Low Fidelity

Eleven forty.

Aesop and I are up again after having a nap for several hours. I have opened the windows for the night hoping to cool off the house. In the fuddling heat I slept shallowly and dreamed about bass guitar and the old ‘90’s band Alice In Chains, which by the way I never really liked. I used to have a friend who was into most of the grunge bands, but throughout that decade I stocked up on King Crimson CDs and other stuff from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that qualified as “progressive rock.” Occasionally I’d buy a jazz fusion disc, and I also went through a phase of modern classical music until I more or less exhausted the genre. I remember listening to Edgar Varese in the summer of 1997, really enjoying Ameriques, a piece that sounds like The Rite of Spring. While I traveled around doing disco with Satin Love, my brain would play back Varese or Arnold Schoenberg during the day, or maybe a film score by Jerry Goldsmith. My mind entertained itself this way and kept me company when I was alone or felt alone with others.

Quarter of one. I’ve been thinking about the particular sound of the band I find myself in. It’s hard to classify. Ron called it eclectic, and I would add that it’s unusual, quirky and peculiar. I doubt if it will ever be popular aside from a small devoted following. But I think I like it. Whatever else it may lack, the music has a kind of integrity and fidelity to the people involved in creating it. And I get to be a part of it. 

Eye Contact

Quarter after four.

I was just thinking about winners and losers, and how some people take off like a skyrocket and never look back. And then there are the ones like me who get derailed by illness, bad luck, and overthinking things. But I still wouldn’t trade identities with a successful person whose personality was a fake and who climbed the ladder by pushing others down. If that’s the meaning of success, then I guess I wasn’t cut out for that sort of thing. I think maybe the definition of success is relative. The music business is different things to different people. I was never good at hiding behind a persona, or putting on masks for different occasions. I’ve known a couple of successful people who advanced by being dishonest and cagey, and unscrupulous about that. Now I ponder this item called morality, and what makes a person deep and substantial, authentic and real. I know I’d rather have the real thing than an evasive illusion, so I’m content to be myself and not one of the winners of the world. Perhaps those people will be haunted by their conscience later in life. My own life will have been far richer and deeper, more meaningful and maybe a little more beautiful. 

Friday Morning

Quarter of eight.

It has always been my style to be honest, so I don’t like it when other people prevaricate on the subject of my illness. This was one of the reasons I left my old psychiatrist four years ago and struck out on my own. Yesterday I ran into a similar situation with the person in Salem. My policy is to be out of the closet, but she advised deception in the process of hiring a helper. To my mind, this is unethical. So now I wonder if I should write her an email to explain my point of view and express my discomfort with her policy… The morning is starting out with nice weather again. Before long I’ll walk to the market, taking my time as I go. I just trashed the Daily Devotions email without opening it. I’m not interested in Palm Sunday or Easter.

Nearly nine o’clock. I just got my caffeine fix from a quart of Snapple tea. Almost time to feed Aesop. I had been feeling crabby this morning, but now it’s better. I believe there’s band practice tomorrow afternoon, so that could lift my spirits. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon as well to prepare. There are no real pressures on me today. Some thoughts from the distant past drive my behavior right now, experiences from college days. The university was a very liberal place when I went there. The real world outside the campus could be quite a shock after being a student. I was spoiled. “The Dance of the Mirlitons” from The Nutcracker reminds me of the day in spring 1988 when I bought Plato’s Republic at the UO Bookstore. I felt very happy on that day. As soon as I got home with the book, I ranged through it and found the part on justice in the individual. Plato argued that the rational component of the personality ought to rule over impulsive appetites and desires. This sounded right to me, and in time I would often meditate on the word “reason.” I didn’t realize at first the similarity of Plato to Freudian psychology. It turns out that my education brainwashed me with Freud. I don’t even know what other schools are like.

Ten o’clock. The cholesterol medication might have a side effect I’m not aware of yet. I feel a pain in my neck below the jaw, possibly thyroid. I think I’ll stay home today, but overall I feel better so far than I did yesterday. Again, it’s probably due to the prospect of musical activity Saturday. 

Integrity

Four o’clock.

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. 

Melancholy and Moliere

Ten o’clock.

I just got off the phone with Polly. We talked mostly about dogs, and that was okay. My taxi is coming at ten thirty. I feel a little nervous, but I think it’ll be a good trip to Springfield. Not much to talk about right now. It’s another sunny day. I can’t predict what will happen today, so I’m playing it by ear.

Eleven o’clock 🕚. Here I am at the doctor’s office. There’s some lame classical music on the hifi. The weather is beautiful except for the smell of smoke in the air. The cabbie was quiet but nice enough. Steve Miller was on the radio, uncensored for the “funky shit going down in the city.” I had to chuckle at that. It was nice to be driven by a young woman.

Quarter of noon. I got done early. Waiting for my return ride. Everything seems more optimistic than two weeks ago. Human life has a future, possibly.

Two o’clock. My mood has taken a nosedive. I feel like crying because I’m just not happy with modern life. It has gotten to me. And there’s no self indulgent solution to the world sorrow I feel. Drinking beer wouldn’t help anything. I stopped and visited with K— and Angela over a donut. Thursday is Angela’s birthday, so they invited me for lunch at twelve thirty. Mexican food. It feels kind of wrong to me because I disagree profoundly with K—‘s attitudes. This is probably why I feel so low since getting back home. I’ve said before that I don’t really belong in the Maxwell community. I have to fake everything in order to get along, and that goes against my grain. People will believe I’m something that I’m not. For some reason, it’s important to me not to be an impostor. It may be because I studied Moliere in college. I was only 19, and I never forgot what I learned. My freshman year contained many lessons in integrity; it was the dominant theme in everything I read and heard. I don’t know what other people take away from their college experience, but integrity hit me over the head. If your life lacks authenticity, then it lacks soul… Thus I came home wanting to cry from having betrayed myself. But it’s Angela’s birthday, and I like her very much. It’ll just be rather a challenge for me socially. I’m not good at dissimulation.

State of Nature

Five o’clock 🕔. I made my trip to Grocery Outlet and bought some very fresh foodstuffs. The dry salami knocked my socks off, and the banana peppers were super hot and tasty. I ate about a third of the loaf of sourdough bread. On my way to the store, I figured out who the real tyrant was: it was Pastor and the church. Now that I’m free, even food tastes better than in the chains of Christ. The full rainbow of colors is again available to me. This afternoon is quite beautiful, but the air is still a bit smoky. My new aqua bandanna works great, so I’ll use it often and might get an extra one. The cashiers at the store were exceedingly friendly and nice, and it just felt like the beginning of my life. Part of me is a little scared to be without religion, as if I must be possessed by the devil or something. But no; this secular life is natural for me, and minus the reference point of the church, the idea of the devil makes no sense. This is my life au natural, stripped of all fictions, much like what Nietzsche envisioned. Everyone ought to be this free and pure… Tomorrow I have nothing planned except to call my sister and get some food for Aesop. Tuesday I have X-rays to show up for. Wednesday they said more rain. Other than that, I don’t know what I’m doing next week. 

Midday Friday

Noon hour. I think I understand what Nietzsche says about purity of spirit. He’s talking about instinct. He states directly that he hates anything that defiles the spirit, including lust and lechery. Also I found in Zarathustra a precedent for Joyce’s idea that one should be prepared to die for a love. Short of this is cowardice. Wow. It would be very hard to live life by Nietzsche’s principles. But I’m really liking his stuff so far. He must have influenced a lot of people before the end of World War 2. I don’t believe that he was culpable for the Holocaust. Nietzsche was no Nazi… Some people read the Bible as if it were the only book worth reading. I recall a woman in a waiting room who bent my ear for 15 or 20 minutes about her life. She held a Bible in her hands and she said she read it all the time, exclusively. I guess it clicks for certain folks, just as for others it’s the Book of Mormon. I’ve had the experience of clicking with particular musicians, but I’m not sure there’s a single book I’d stake my life on. A few books in my youth made deep impressions on me. The Crucible was one of them. And despite its faults, The Fountainhead resonated with me for a long time. And the Bergman teleplay, Wild Strawberries.

One thirty. I hear “Sun King” in my head as the real sun comes out… It seems to me that the strongest literature features a protagonist who must undergo a severe test. A hero up against the odds, against whom the cards are stacked. For this reason maybe Les Miserables is worth struggling to finish. So many books, but fortunately plenty of time.