Invocation The interior cosmic and vast, the hope To resurrect Mallarme’s voice, the scope: Ellipses... numbers, stars I scrawl; Toward the universe we crawl. The instruments of darkness know This universe in verse is so; But instruments of darkness? No: The uncanny takes no part of Fall. To drink in hate and spit out love: Alembic guided by the Dove; The reason flies, impelled to shove, Imploding time beyond recall.
I got as much sleep as I could, then finally resigned myself to getting up for a while. I read a depressed post by a fellow blogger and tried to leave a comment. Now it spurs me to think: what are the most inspiring words anyone ever said to me? Off the top of my head I would cite “Free Will” by Rush. Second to this I would say Don Quixote, and “Existentialism Is a Humanism” by Sartre; and maybe Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola. Anything that lifts humanity from the primordial slime, both collectively and individually, is a great thing. I can’t agree with those who recommend groveling before an angry God. To kneel in humility to a so-called superior defiles the nobility of the human spirit. We are meant to walk upright, not on our hands and knees like a beast… One more inspirational work: The Crucible by Arthur Miller. To be a martyr for the truth like John Proctor is the acme of man’s pride and power. The essence is integrity, and standing up for what you know to be true. When the rest of the world has ingested wormwood and gone insane, and if you’re the last sensible person on earth, you have only yourself to steer by. Against the odds, the individual still owes it to himself to be honest. And he will come out victorious, free, and happy who adheres to his truth.
Five thirty five. But there’s a flaw in my logic above. John Proctor ends up dead! He gets hanged for his truth. The example I should have used was Howard Roark in the book by Ayn Rand. Never trust the poet. Trust the tale.
I really look forward to our next band jam on Saturday. In the meantime it’s simply today with no expectations on its merits. The future is a window, not a blind wall. Right now it’s black as ink outside; the earth is turned away from the sun. With a bit of a rotation counterclockwise we’ll see daylight in a few hours. I’ve considered swapping bridges on my white Fender bass, but this would make it sound more like the others. I should take the advice of someone who said, “It’s not the bass, it’s you.” I guess inspiration either comes or it doesn’t, but the most important source of this is other people. A couple of lines from Tagore arise, where he says he’s been spending his days in stringing and unstringing his instrument, awaiting the call of his God. The inspiration comes and goes with the visitation of the divine. It cannot be forced to happen. No more than we can speed up the rotation of the earth on its axis.
I seem to be quite discontent with my life as it is today. I guess it’s just the absence of pleasure that gets me down. I keep saying what a gray existence this is, how colorless and insipid, and essentially unhappy. When this depression hits, I take recourse to a past when I had more pleasure. Basically, I feel unloved. Loneliness eats away at my very soul, and the November weather doesn’t help. I might be happier if I could drink beer, yet even this is illusory. I’m an epicurean living in a stoic world, a complete fish out of water. My parents lived that way all their lives, selfishly sucking the most pleasure out of existence that they could. I look around me and see no other way than hedonism. To be a hedonist without pleasure is indeed a meaningless life, and that is life without alcohol for an alcoholic. But I know that for me there’s no moderation in drinking, thus I am stuck with anhedonia. As we move into the winter, the memory of my mother returns… I don’t know. I’m just a wreck.
Occasionally I take comfort in the idea of individual freedom. But freedom in the world of the pandemic seems like a delusion, because we’re all chained together in the same condition. In fact, as I consider it, personal liberty is precisely what my life is missing today. There’s too much focus on sociology, the study of society and culture. This may be coming from the church. The libertarian influences on me have deserted for a while, but I know that freedom is my inspiration and not the chains of collectivism. I suppose I have a disagreement with my church, and maybe I need to change my lifestyle accordingly. I’d like to revive my ideas of Renaissance humanism and restore my reverence for the beauty of the human form. Religion has corrupted my image of humankind as a noble thing: heroic and strong, pure and honest. The individual molds society, not the other way around. The greatest human being is the one who can stand trial against the world and win.
Debris from the wind yesterday is everywhere on the street. Aside from that, fall is in the ambience outside, replete with memories of previous seasons. Mostly cloudy skies right now. I’ll probably stay home from the church event this morning. The squirrels are still busy in the backyard, making no attempt to be furtive. Aesop is bored with them. I’m trying to ignore the discomfort of my body today and get on with what makes me happy. I could do some music this afternoon, go for a bit of jazz on my bass. The healing properties of music might override the pain. I can’t believe that the tradition of social music is gone away forever. Not for a silly thing like the coronavirus.
The present I ordered for my birthday is coming tomorrow by UPS: two volumes of sci-fi writing from the Library of America. I don’t know much about the genre as such except for its classical roots in Edgar Poe and a little Jules Verne. Doubtless it came a long way from there.
Like yesterday, I bought two Snapples rather than a Coke and saved 75 cents. For some reason, soda doesn’t appeal to me lately. I’ve had quite a few bad experiences with Coke. I think the carbonation disagrees with me. And maybe I just got tired of pop. It’s a rather big step for me quitting the soda. In the parking lot outside the store I passed by two people smoking cigarettes. I asked myself why people do things like that, but then my addiction to alcohol was likewise inexplicable. I still think about it every day, but I believe I’m safe in the absence of toxic and slippery people. The person I worked for was like the devil on the subject of alcohol.
The sun is splashing down on my backyard, orange and mellow. The notion of freedom and control comes to mind. Possibly my willpower keeps me sober, but what’s wrong with that? I wouldn’t entrust my sobriety to the wheel of blind Fortune or the four winds. If I’m not in charge of staying sober, then nothing is. It’s nothing to be fatalistic about, but instead, free and responsible… I can remember deferring credit for my bass playing to the inspiration of the “muse.” It was my little romantic superstition, influenced by Homer and Plato, and by Emerson and Jung. I believed in it for a decade, from 1999 to around 2009. The problem with this belief was that my muse quickly assumed the form of a demon, if not the devil himself. This happened because of the Satanism of the local rock music scene— however ridiculous that sounds. Eugene is a rather backward community for rock and roll, and in the outlying boonies it’s even more unintelligent. Perhaps it wouldn’t break my heart to have to give up my music. Life is changing radically with each new year, and no one is immune from mutability.
Again I feel myself missing my old secular friends. I dreamed about my psychiatrist this morning and I wonder if I should go back to him. Sometimes I wish I could simply move to the UK someplace. A place that resembles my lost past. I hadn’t realized what a minority I am in this country until I put myself in treatment in 2003. The ignorance I encountered there was staggering. People hated school and learning, preferring church by far. I still don’t get that. Having an education is a wonderful thing, so liberating and broadening. It is not indoctrination, but just the opposite: an open door to endless other open doors, with the light of learning growing ever brighter. It’s a Promethean life, the gift of fire and the light of reason from the gods. Aren’t we stupid to refuse such a gift? If one lifetime is all we get, then shouldn’t we learn about it all we can? Instead of working at meaningless jobs and procreating like rabbits, we could be wise and on a par with the gods. Who would stop us from building a Tower of Babel this time? We could make a skyscraper to the moon with impunity. Life would be like ancient Athens once again, but with the advantage of technology. All this your life has to offer: why spit in its face? Why choose the Dark Ages over the glittering high rises of enlightenment? You can be the poorest pauper on the street and at the same time possess priceless wisdom. Learning is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.
Setting out for the store, traipsing down my own street, I remembered Kate’s literalism and how that felt to me. I actually loved it because it was so simple. No abstruse doctrines, no nothing, really. Just the immediate stuff around me and the asphalt under my feet. Do we say that such an existence is amoral? If not, then Dostoevsky’s “everything is permitted” is incorrect. Maybe human rules don’t depend on metaphysics. Maybe the rules are just human. The Absolute was chiefly a nineteenth century philosophical notion. After the turn of the twentieth century, the concept declined with the rise of analytic philosophy, which was the tradition Kate followed. Existentialism survived into the next century, and it was this tradition I gravitated to when our friendship neared the end. I recall rereading Unamuno’s Abel Sanchez in February 2017. To be honest I was tunneling my way like a mole in the direction of recovery. I was contemplating it, but consciously didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’ve come up on the green earth and can look back at the maze I left. Four months after Unamuno I attended my first church service. And three months from there I stopped drinking, starting my longest term of sobriety ever. The mole knew exactly what it was doing, and still does.
I slept another four hours, or maybe only three. Dropping off was difficult. Music in my head is “ABC” by the Jackson 5. Not one of my favorites. A mourning dove coos off to my left. I had a memory of the bank Monday. Jeff had sent me a fifty dollar check for my birthday in January 2018, so I had my advocate Lon drive me to deposit it. I was very superstitious that day. The check sat between us on the floorboard. When Lon had parked and opened his door, a big gust of wind reached in, picked up the check, and floated it way off to the next lot. This to me was proof that the powers that be didn’t approve of my brother’s money. Lon did manage to recover the check after it had nearly been run over. I deposited it eventually, but I believed it was contrary to the will of God. I wasn’t well, yet I still had some fun with it. Later I used the money to buy a couple of Loeb classics of Aristotle. One of them may have been trashed following the fire. Funny, but with the extra cash I had from not buying beer I could only think to buy more books. I rewarded myself that way. I still wasn’t aware of what a hoarder was; that revelation came in the springtime. Today, a year and a season later, I am counseled that knowledge is power. That is, the hoarding is an issue I have control over. I feel that I’m in better hands now. This Thursday morning contains the promise of being whatever I make of it. I think I’ll trudge over to the pharmacy at nine o’clock. Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?
Five o’clock. If God exists, his spirit is just a contagion of positive emotions. Good karma, so to speak. It’s still very hard to prove the existence of soul substance. No one has ever been able to do it. We can theorize about dark matter or subtle matter all we want, but… There’s still something to the positivity theme. My analytic mind has difficulty with it, but it’s not a thing of logic. It’s a thing of feeling. Everyone can feel positive or negative vibes, and see them in smiles or frowns. The obtuse person is someone like me, trying to solve a problem when there is none.
Midnight. Jeff was a total prick. To hell with family dynamics! I don’t have to subordinate myself anymore. That used to be misery, having two self righteous bitchy people for siblings. I loathe them both. I guess I’m not much of a Christian to be so defiant. But you know, my siblings held me down and shat on my head. Pissed on my back. I don’t have to put up with that! Nobody ever has to be degraded like that. I stand for human dignity in high places and low alike. Everybody deserves respect. The homeless person who begs you for a cigarette even deserves to be listened to. Everyone has a story to tell, and that’s been my policy with every taxi driver who’s taken me someplace. I listen. It’s more important to listen than to speak. Failure to listen is a failure to learn. Apply the Golden Rule in communication: don’t I want to be listened to as well? That’s another wall I hit with my siblings. Nothing I said was ever worth hearing. So I would remind everyone that there’s no excuse for keeping others down. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a say. All who have been subjugated, take heart and take charge! Freedom and democracy will not fail! Do what you have to do in order to hear yourself think. There is no one so perfect that she or he may trample your rights. Self righteousness is all over the place. People think they know everything and you know nothing. But I say, empower yourself. Put aside the guilt and shame and start respecting yourself. The same sun shines on us all. On us all the same rain falls. To nature, we are all equal alike. Let our voices sound together in a symphony of change for the better!