The person who put the brakes on my music was only me, but it’s for a good reason. I’m about three weeks away from my five year sober birthday. Making music is often a slippery activity for someone in recovery. In this case, we just do the best we can… I have the strangest memories of my eighth grade in the fall season. My parents had the television on constantly. I can still remember the music from some of the commercials, like for Sizzler Steakhouse: steak and langostino shrimp, where the music was Polymoog synth and a Fender P Bass, very pretty, like lounge music. Today I don’t even own a tv. I know some people are addicted to it. If I had one, it still wouldn’t be the same as when I was a kid. After my mother died I began to see television for what it was: a brainwashing tool, like having the Central Scrutinizer in your own home. Or like a scene out of Fahrenheit 451. Totally dystopian. I think I’d rather be liberated from all that. Then again, a person could argue that social media is just another form of hypnosis along with tv and everything else…
Two thirty morning.
Well, I finally took the bait and ordered the DNA kit from Ancestry dot com because I’m tired of guessing about my origins or the reasons for what I do. My father was adopted and never knew his birth parents, so the genetic test is the best I can hope for. There has to be an explanation for why I have difficulty with religious traditions, especially Christianity. I believe it’s because evangelism is often forcible.
Seven thirty. Another day of clouds. Today I’ll feed Aesop prior to going to the store. I got too much caffeine yesterday and overnight. The guy who called yesterday about the flea medication tripped over my dog’s name; kind of funny, though he felt embarrassed… The treatment program I underwent long ago did a lot of damage to me. I really wish I’d never gone there, and it’s just a reminder that assertiveness is critical to everyone’s well-being. It’s water under the bridge except I have such scars from the experience. Maybe it’s an issue of forgiving them and letting it go. Pop psychology perhaps, but it’s worth a try. After all, they knew not what they did.
Quarter after six.
Day is just dawning on an overcast sky. Last night, into the small hours, I slipped on a banana peel while writing in my journal: I thought of the fact of consciousness again and its link with language and logic, so I was trapped in the net of philosophy as before. It’s a condition that comes and goes. But right now I feel like the anti philosopher. There’s so much uncertainty and anxiety with people today. For some reason I recall the image of the new high school being built on Silver Lane. It’s an ominous looking thing of dark gray brick and brown windows in a campus of huge buildings. More like a prison than a school; a place for forcible indoctrination, mentally violent. It’s like the idea behind The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher, of being Capped by alien forces we don’t understand, that deprive us of our own reason and capacity for original thought. No one can be a philosopher who attends a school like that, nor simply a human being.
Eight thirty. I saw nothing very interesting on my walk this time. W—, who lives on Fremont Avenue, was busy with something in his garage. He owns an HVAC business and flies ultra conservative flags on a pole in his front yard. I guess a lot of people around here feel that way, but when I go to Centennial Plaza it’s a blue zone and people are mostly pretty happy. The various demographics even within the same city can be rather baffling. “Second nature comes alive / Even if you close your eyes / We exist through this strange disguise.” Why can’t we be closer to our original nature? Now the sun makes glints off the cars in Roger’s driveway and lights my magnolia up lemon. Aesop turns to me with a questioning look, then settles himself again.
Karen did something very nice for me today. She gave me her green salad and some ranch dressing to take home, telling me she would have chili. She had observed that I’d lost weight because of the meager fare at the market and acted accordingly. Karen said that Kim’s divorce will probably go through okay despite her husband contesting it. He hasn’t been behaving well, not doing what he’s supposed to do. They’d been married for 16 years. I think she was being merciful to him… The sky appears like the mercury in a thermometer, silvery with great puffy clouds. Aesop has been very good ever since Gloria started working with me on housekeeping and personal care. Now the sun comes out a little. Yesterday evening I ordered a book of Adler, generally about his individual psychology, which may go well with what I know of Freud, though I’m not a fan of Jung anymore. Eugene is a big Jungian town everywhere you go, so they tend to shove it down your throat. Forcible indoctrination is never a good way to get along with people, but rather it’s a kind of violence. The more the pressure, the more others will rebel. Jung may be a mental giant and an institution, but then so is Shakespeare if I want something Romantic to read and talk about… Across the street, Roger potters and tinkers with a mad scientist project, not at all interested in such things.
Quarter of eleven at night.
Now I’m really confused. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be political at all, but just ride out what happens from day to day and keep my mouth shut. I never got around to reading a book today; I would have picked Montaigne, I think, for the beauty of the volume and the pleasure of holding it in my hands. The subject of his writing was simply himself, sort of like a Leaves of Grass a few centuries before Whitman came along… I wonder if I’ve been listening to my sister’s opinions a bit too much. Or perhaps I shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinion period. Everyone has a worldview they want to sell you. I seem to have absorbed a lot of ideas by listening to Rush records over the years; a very odd place to get an education. Even this afternoon I found myself playing “The Big Money” on my bass guitar… I suppose I’ve been brainwashed by a few different sources growing up. It’s hard to avoid this in our consumerist culture, everything packaged up nicely and placed in shop windows or delivered to your door. What better medium than music for creating little monsters to go out in the world? Still, a person can do much worse than to learn from a good Rush album or two.
Does anyone really know much of anything?
Five thirty. I took the plunge and ordered the bass I wanted! And the guilt and fear were all my responsibility. I overcame those feelings and did what I wanted to do.
Ten thirty five. I’ve been lying in bed torturing myself with thoughts of egoism versus altruism, and now I finally understand why. It’s because I went through the same thing three years ago when I was first getting sober and the medication hadn’t taken effect yet. Today has been like a flashback to that time. Maybe the weather contributed. It was sunny and warm all day. Another item is that my big Plato book arrived this afternoon, as iconic as the philosopher himself… I took the plunge on the G&L bass— so now will I go to hell for selfishness? For this was the delusion I had in 2018. Some accident of the atmosphere brought it back. It was also in April of that year when I had a big breakthrough against the same delusion and started making music again in spite of my illness. It was kind of like Huckleberry Finn taking his chances with hellfire for doing what he wanted to do. Yet isn’t it right to do what is pure and authentic of yourself?
Eleven thirty. It started with a red SX bass I bought in November 2016. It arrived damaged in shipping and then it just sat in a chair for a year and a half. One day in April I worked up the courage and motivation to pick it up and play it, defying my dog who hated music. This went okay, and a few days later I had my neighbor drive me to Guitar Center to get the instrument repaired. The victory of this was that I’d really wanted to play my new bass, and now I was finally doing it. The take home lesson is that people don’t know what they’re talking about when they condemn egoism. Of course you have to do some things out of selfishness. It’s impossible not to. And to this day I disagree strongly with Twelve Step programs for their overemphasis on abnegation.
Eight thirty five.
Though I spend it alone, today could be a good day. Hours ago I ordered my favorite bass strings on Amazon. They ought to sound great on my Jazz Bass copy, at once bright and deep… Aesop just had his chicken dog food for breakfast, plus some dry kibbles. He likes Purina stuff better than anything else. He’s a very intelligent dog, the same way poodles are smart.
Nine thirty five. Church will be underway, and I’m not there to see it. It’s so quiet in the house right now. My mind dwells on events from nine years ago, when Kate was my girlfriend in a remote way and my pug dog was 14 years old. But now I wonder how I ever could rationalize the exorbitant drinking I did every other day. It seems like such a feat of mental gymnastics. Part of it was being close to my brother, another alcoholic. But I finally realized that he didn’t care about me at all; booze was number one to him, and all human relationships secondary. It’s a heck of a way to live. I understood that I was no different to him than his wife who was number two to his alcohol. So then I prepared myself to sacrifice what I believed in for the purpose of recovery. Yet I don’t embrace my sister’s beliefs either. Gradually I’m coming into my own as an individual. My mother was right about the importance of beauty in our lives.
Ten thirty five. By now, church is done. I’m glad I didn’t go. I wasn’t interested in hearing another gloomy sermon. “Hey you, don’t help them to bury the live / Don’t give in without a fight.” And how can the church call us Pharisees and Sadducees when the ones who are lifeless are themselves? The shadow of the church disfigures people to inhumanity, turning all colors black and white. For some of us, the veneer of indoctrination was thin enough to shed. It’s like reading the early Margaret Atwood: waiting until the fur grows…
One thirty. I feel myself flashing back to ninth grade, still the happiest year of my life. I think it was happy because of Rush, such a joy and inspiration to me for many years to follow. I had a minor crush on Gail W— in ninth grade pre algebra. Junior high school was weird, the beginning of a strange odyssey to college. It began and ended with egoism, the very antithesis to the churchgoing mentality I’ve since learned. Then why did I say that ninth grade was a happy time? The egoism led me inevitably to alcohol abuse three years later. Wasn’t my formal education instead a mistake? The soundtrack to the whole mad pursuit was Rush. And the basic text for Rush?: Ayn Rand. So now it’s nearly Christmas, 39 years after ninth grade egomania. Have I learned anything? No, but I’ve gained perspective enough to make an important distinction between school indoctrination and that of the Church. Perhaps Rush as a “soundtrack” is disposable. Then again, maybe it isn’t.
Quarter of three. It may be better to keep a critical distance from Ayn Rand, but then, the seeds of egoism were sown in me forty years ago. Better to acquaint myself with the enemy in order to weed it out by the roots. In my experience, alcoholism naturally follows from “reason, egoism, and capitalism.” Thus, the precepts of Alcoholics Anonymous are not far from the mark.
Two o’clock. It looks like my Dell laptop is about to ship because the transaction has reappeared on my bank statement. I bet it will arrive Friday… Is Sigmund Freud the truth or is he just another school of thought? Overall, my college education was very Freudian, and so subtly that I didn’t realize I was being indoctrinated. I think every university has a platform. Very strange to see it now, and to see it demolished. Freud is just one more discarded image today. Likewise, my education is dated. Some parts of it are salvageable, but the central thrust of it is defunct… Now, considering myself, can my worldview be adapted to the present day? Or will I wander around the dock as the last Freudian who missed the ferry boat?… Imagine if I’d been brainwashed with something else when I was young! It could have been anything… I’ve looked around at the books in my library, scowling to think of how I was duped. And then, what happens when every doctrine has been fully eradicated from a person? Do you have the philosopher’s ideal? Maybe just a vegetable…