33 Years

Toward one o’clock. I tried putting Aesop out while I played my bass. It worked okay, though he got a little panicked. Still, he didn’t bark or make any noise. My practice was uninspired and not very good. TBH, I can’t decide what I want. Because of the Covid stalemate, I’m stuck. Mark the drummer asked me to be patient… Sheryl the therapist was either ignorant or evil, maybe both. But I think she was just being trendy with the sexual stuff, along with a lot of people. No one knows who starts the trends or where they will go. People are sheep looking for a shepherd, and they find it in the media. A few people are self directed, which is a good thing, however clumsy they may come across. I doubt if I will ever celebrate Christmas again, just because it isn’t logical. Possibly there’s something wrong with me, a deficiency of some kind. Or maybe it’s a surplus of something? Even my brother admitted that I have “balls” for staying sober where he can’t. Somehow I resist collectivism, and it may go back to having read Ayn Rand 33 years ago. At some level I recall the whole story of The Fountainhead, and how the original intellect wins the struggle against the secondhand spongers. My elders in the workplace said I was ridiculous for liking Rand’s philosophy; said she was a crank, and that her ideas were inhuman. They told me there’s nothing new under the sun. Indeed, they sounded just like the bad guys in The Fountainhead. But I must say that what keeps me sober and strong is not so much religion as it is my recollection of Ayn Rand from many years ago. I remembered the story and kept it safe for future reference. Thirty three years later, it proves to be my guiding light.

Much Ado about Aristotle

Eight ten. I’ve decided I really like my house and want to do more to keep it up. This morning I opened the box with my vinyl records in it: everything appears to be there. These, like my Aristotle one volume, are my history. A history that was sort of dictated to me by the law of supply and demand, by what items were made available by the distributors at the time. For instance, Led Zeppelin got quite a bit of airplay on the local radio, and then I would go out and buy the albums I could find. It feels like a big conspiracy of society against the individual, if I believe the abstraction “society” is a measurable reality. What if it isn’t? What if nothing exists but individuals?

Aristotle confused me when I was young by claiming that genera are logically prior to species (that is, individuals). To me, nominalism, or the rejection of abstractions and essences, made more sense. This way, specimens come first, and classification after. And Aristotle, like Plato, has the whole scheme upside down. The upshot is that a holistic entity like “society” could be a complete hoax. I think I’m still a nominalist today, not so much an essentialist— although opposites attract. In college, I tried to make Aristotle into something he wasn’t. I did well in the class just because I did some original thinking about ontology and challenged Aristotle himself. I barely knew what I was talking about, and sometimes lacked the terms to express myself. But I wasn’t just a yes man to anything the old icon said.

Philosophy classes were great for being open minded— as long as you backed up your assertions with logical argument. The spirit was really independent thought and critical discussion, whereas English classes gave us no latitude in interpretation of texts. But either way, I had a great learning experience in school, and I wish I could have stayed there forever.

Questions

Quarter of four. I feel really good today since my adventure to Bi Mart. I scanned more of the sociology book and found I could relate to the phenomenon called xenocentrism. This is when you try to compensate for ethnocentrism by favoring a foreign culture to your own. It’s also becoming clear that Christianity is a thing of American culture, a culture with which I’ve lost touch. People believe in religion just because it is done as a matter of expectation. It is one of those unwritten rules that people conform with. I wonder what schizophrenia looks like from a sociological perspective? Is it a failure to conform to your culture, to be out of sync with your society’s values, beliefs, and practices? My old psychiatrist used to view me from a sociological standpoint sometimes. Once he even compared me to the Unabomber; it must have been in 1995 or 96. When I later reminded him, he denied remembering ever saying such a thing. So now I ask myself just what is schizophrenia to a sociologist. A loss of contact with reality, in more ways than one? Maybe schizophrenia ought to be an interdisciplinary study? Looking at it in the light of culture adds a dimension to the illness. It also informs me of the way my family sees my behavior, they being relatively normal. And what does sociology reply to the idea that there’s no such thing as normal? It talks about shared beliefs and practices and mores: basically, norms. But if normal doesn’t exist, where does that leave sociology— and society and, more personally, my family? Because after all, my family is probably what I’m concerned with.

Statement of a Brother and Uncle

Nine thirty.

Nighttime is when I have some breathing room. Families are a drag. Mine bears a resemblance to the crazy characters in William Faulkner fiction. The members each have some degree of neurosis, myself being the hardest hit. I had lunch with the leader, the sort of elder of the clan, which gradually I’m coming to accept as such. It appears we are on good terms at this point. But you know, the family system is dissolving and decaying fast. It manages to propagate itself for the generations, but as an individual, I still feel inclined to defect from its traditions. These are so old fashioned as to be maladaptive for the changing times. I could be wrong, yet my feelings are what they are. In particular I can’t countenance the racism and bigotry that pervade the family’s structure. As a man of principle, I reject these things. The family needs to examine itself and reevaluate its core beliefs before I will consider being a member. Until then, I deem myself a conscientious objector to family policy and practice.

Guideposts

I prefer having good friends with high intelligence. I never wanted to get married because I knew I’d become bored with the same partner year after year. Or maybe I’m just an introvert and prefer solitude? I have loved a few people in my life. I know I am different from most people in being androgynous. Maybe less so than I think. Social norms and rituals make us feel like we have to jump all the same hurdles. The honest person struggles with that more than others. It seems to me that schizophrenia is a symptom of modern life. It is a mirror held up to society, and it seems to say, This is you. The thing I like about Anne Sexton is how honest she is about feeling lost and helpless. She begs for a world where people can just spill their guts and admit to being weak and human. It could be that schizophrenia is a little like that. Sexton contemplated religious conversion, but had to confess that believing is not the same as needing to believe… When we are honest, not one of us fits the round holes of society perfectly. So we do the best we can. Some of us write about our lives in hopes of broadening the human reality. Of raising consciousness. The better we write, the better the guideposts we leave behind.

Relativism

Quarter of four. Except for the mystery of subjectivity, I don’t see a reason to accept the supernatural. I can remember my philosophical naivety in my teens, when the distinction between subject and object didn’t exist. The mind body problem was uncharted territory for me, and the potential for bisexual love only teased my perception when I was fifteen. I didn’t much distinguish self from others, taking experience very literally. I perceive that a lot of people would still be in that condition today. I would undertake to educate everyone on identity from a philosophical perspective if I could. But most people “don’t have time” to be enlightened.

Do you ever wonder about the existence of not only yourself but how the existence of others is possible? We are not a mass of continuous sensing flesh, but rather every individual is separate and private. This was what I didn’t realize in my teens. Everyone sees the world differently in a very literal way, right down to the perception of shape and color. Some thinkers have argued even that the objective world doesn’t exist at all. We have perceptions of a world, but exactly what the nature of it is, we’ll never know. People are helplessly trapped inside their own minds, and learning this truth is a first step toward sophistication.

Word to the Wise

Eleven twenty five. I just listened to most of Selling England by the Pound. It’s my favorite Genesis Cd. I had a thought a bit ago: within reason, I am totally free. I can be a night owl if I want. I can have dinner for breakfast. I feel that freedom is very important. Somebody in my life was too controlling, and that had consequences. It was bad enough that my parents were overprotective, but then Mom assigned me to my siblings: a huge mistake. I was 34 years old when she passed away, definitely old enough to take care of myself. I went through hell with my family. But now I’ve got this big renovated house all to myself, and with all this free time and even a little money to play with. I didn’t orchestrate it this way. Life just fell into place with me along for the ride. I’m alone a lot of the time, but I’m okay with that. It beats being oppressed by someone else.

I’m even free from the psychiatrist I fired in 2017. Polly thought I was still seeing him when she sought me out last October. But that’s just another sign of what’s been wrong with my life. Dr T— was a dictator. He treated all of his patients that way. I couldn’t take any more of that. Everybody had advice for me, and then I realized it was all contradictory. Nobody agreed with anyone else. I found that my own opinion was good enough:— in fact, it was righteous.

It is so imperative that everyone trust themselves in a world where opinions and advice are ubiquitous. Judge the value for yourself. We all possess the right to esteem what is right and wrong, and what is important. Don’t be a sheep or a fish or any animal but a human being. And when you assert yourself, people will treat you with more respect.

Eugenics

Quarter of two. I’ve been having nightmares about Sheryl’s motives for trying to dissuade me from heterosexual relationships. The obvious thing is that gay sex doesn’t make babies. The whole point of intercourse, from a rational perspective, is reproduction. It is nature’s way. But what if I do want to father a child of my own? The hideous thing is to think that Sheryl tried to prohibit a person with schizophrenia from reproducing. This is called eugenics, or the practice of keeping genetic weaknesses out of the gene pool. The Nazis had the same idea…

It really pays to do your own thinking and choosing. To keep your own counsel. If you don’t have your eyes and ears open, then all manner of mayhem can result. Only the individual knows what is best for himself. If you have a brain, then it’s in your best interest to use it. I defy those who say “you can’t.” The truth is that everyone is free to choose. And if people disagree with your choices, and if you lose friends, just persist. Eventually things fall into place.

Crucible’s End

Near midnight. I dreamed that Tim from church was helping me unpack my books, sorting out which ones to keep. I feel sad about my break with the congregation. Still no one has called to ask about me. I imagine that they accept that this time it’s over. I did the honest thing and disabused them of any more deception from me. Lisa’s reply was great; she didn’t take personal offense. But I fear that Pastor may have felt hurt and angry. Eventually everyone will accept. It hits me as hard as anyone else to admit to unbelief. I wouldn’t want for my skepticism to be contagious to the others. Saying goodbye was inevitable after a certain point. I feel a lot like John Proctor in The Crucible, executed for his honesty and integrity. I expect that everyone goes through a test like this at some time in their lives. In the end we come out even more like ourselves, but stronger and harder than before. More individual and more alone, but it’s the same solitude for everybody. The difference is that most people don’t dare to speak what they truly experience. They lack the courage; sometimes the tools. So I make this post as an inspiration to anyone else struggling for self expression.

Different Drumbeat

Quarter of one. Church went fair; I was a little reserved about the theological stuff. It felt oppressive to me. The scope of life is much broader than the views of the Church. If I want to read about Tibetan yoga, then I should be able to. I don’t think Christ is the only one with enlightenment in the history of the world. It would be awfully vain of the West to make this claim. I don’t believe in exclusivity at all. It’s typically American to isolate and exalt its culture above all others. Jingoism is not for me. Dunno. I’m just tired of compromising my thoughts and feelings for an institution that frankly can’t be one size fits all. This country luckily makes provisions for people whose beliefs are personal and eclectic. We believe what we believe in accordance with our reason and our individual nature. I’m hovering over the decision to leave the church and seek my fortune in the workforce. I’m weary of trying to distort myself into Lutheran shape. It’s too limiting, even smothering. It doesn’t work for a person who thinks original thoughts from the heart; for one who is totally honest about his experience. The end of my churchgoing is in sight.