Edmund (with a Cold)

Seven thirty five at night.

I really didn’t want to be sick, but there’s no bargaining with this circumstance anymore; a fact is a fact. I tried to reason it away as just a mouth infection, but it’s acting like a typical head cold, from the sore throat stage to nasal congestion, etc. Okay, so I was an idiot. Now I just hope I won’t be too wretched the next few days.

How easy it is to blame everyone and everything, including the stars, but yourself for bad luck. Putting responsibility off of yourself is the excellent foppery of the world. And yet Shakespeare puts these words in the mouth of Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, and the misbegotten miscreant with no place in God’s orderly world. I don’t know whether to agree with the Bard’s opinion or subvert it with his own created character. As the centuries rolled on, dramatists turned the focus away from nobility and towards ordinary individuals: indeed the individual, rather than the group, became the point of interest. So then, heroes like John Proctor of The Crucible were made possible, and even before that, Nora Helmer of A Doll’s House. Still I’m stuck on what to do with Edmund the bastard: perhaps he should have written Shakespeare into existence rather than the reverse. Maybe nobody would’ve known the difference anyhow. Which would be the more foppish today, the cosmic dance or Machiavellian plotting? Maybe we made a wrong turn after Shakespeare… 

A Little Bone to Pick

Three thirty in the morning.

Lead me not into temptation. Deliver me… Such strange words, hinged on the premise of good and evil, when it’s arguable whether there is a heaven and a hell. Evil is proved by its harmful effects on the individual and whoever he touches. Goodness promotes health and productivity. I only hope that the human race knows what is best for itself. As a young person, I learned nonconformity just on principle: be yourself and question everything. Later on, people like me were slighted as selfish or something that made no sense. So now it’s very difficult to know which is right, the collective mentality or the individual, and by the time you reach your deathbed, will it make a difference anyway? Whether we live together or apart, we all die alone, and you can’t take anything with you. As with everything, going with one or the other comprises a wager; either way, you bet your life… I also learned as a youngster that religious norms are fictions created by human beings in the interest of the group. Recently, someone I know opined that all people have belongingness needs, but I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I can honestly say that people are social animals because we enjoy each other’s company. But the thought of mindless obedience to a status quo still makes my hackles rise. There’s always something to be said for individual freedom— of the kind dramatized in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. John Proctor dies for the truth in the teeth of his society that has gone wrong. What is public opinion to you or me? It’s all a waste of breath. 

Nominalism: a Letter

Thanks for the pretty photograph. The colors remind me of the cover to an edition of Robert Frost I used to have, long ago, as a college senior. I remember reading it in the Knight Library on the third floor, particularly “Tree at My Window” and some of the other early poems.


I had a rather difficult day. I don’t understand what’s going wrong with my life or the way my mind works, but I’m having trouble keeping boundaries with other people, and I’m letting little disagreements really upset me. Why can’t I simply assert myself without worrying about how other people feel? Something has gone wrong. Since last month I’ve become more sensitive to the things people say or seem to believe. I feel like I have to agree with them in order to get along, while asserting myself is the worst thing I can do. All I can see around me is conflict with others. This makes me think of the ideas of Thomas Hobbes, who among many things said that people don’t help each other, but rather they interfere with each other’s interests. In his view, human nature is egoistic, and individuals do what is good for themselves. I guess what I’m beginning to perceive all over again is that people are separate individuals and not just a shapeless mass of humanity. Doubtless my perception is changing since my repeated absences from church over the past two months. The pastor’s collectivism, his tendency to view people as groups, for me is gradually going away, replaced by the individualism I grew up with. Maybe Pastor’s perspective is a convenient way of handling the church group. My meetup with Tim a month ago faced me with some new problems regarding the congregation… I don’t know, but it’s harder for me now to compartmentalize real people in easy categories and classes. It all started with not going to church anymore. I imagine I’ll figure out a way to impose order on what I see, but it’ll take time.


Perhaps I’m not making much coherent sense, but then I have to muddle my way through to get to the next phase. Maybe things won’t be easy for a long time. At least I’m still sober, though life is quite a pain right now.