Something and Nothing

Four thirty five. I did a little bit of book shelving while hearing the sound of Jo jamming up the street. I’m not tempted to go play because Jo isn’t serious about music. He drinks and smokes weed while practicing. Late last night I found my readers of Derrida and Foucault and peered into the first. I could make only a little sense of the writing, but it falls under the category of philology. I got a feeling of there being no difference between being and non being in Derrida, of a present absence and an absent presence, and all of it in the interstices, the spaces between words and lines. It seems to me like the ultimate nihilism, reducing all something to nothing. He makes private thinking seem dependent on signs, but he says that thinking in solitude is impossible. It was Paul Bowles’ character Port Moresby who said that the difference between something and nothing is nothing. To me, this is sheer blasphemy, and I pick up the same attitude from Derrida; also from Sartre, and before him, Mallarme. How can something be nothing and vice versa? It is like the concept of black light, or black sunlight. The idea of being from non being, or from nothingness, strikes me as abominable because it goes against Christian theology. There’s supposed to be a Light of the world, and the Light is Christ, and it is a positive something, not nothing. It is affirmation not negation, a powerful yes declaration… Jo’s little jam is still going on, as it sometimes does on Sundays. Is the universe a friendly place? Einstein raises the question, but hasn’t the answer. I had a friend once who liked Paul Bowles and was drawn to the darker nuances of music. His concept of God was a single being with both light and dark modes along a continuum. It was his AA God— and I couldn’t agree with it. God to me was all light, and the darkness was the devil. The two were not continuous, but dichotomous and separate. My idea was essentially Christian, and perhaps for that reason my friend and I broke it off. Nor did I join AA years later, but a Christian church, and it appears to be working for me.

E E Cummings

Eight fifty. I’m feeling rather lonely, and sad for that reason. I’d love some intelligent company and conversation. In one of the boxes I found my Cummings book, the huge maroon tome that I once believed to be a satanic bible. This seems quite foolish to me today. Cummings was an ordinary mortal like you and me. I love his poetry, howsoever it may be decadent and sensual. “In Just” was part of my introduction to poetry, way back in eighth grade. I’ll always remember the goat footed balloon man associated with springtime: is he the devil, and what about the call of spring is evil? Hormones, I guess. The madness of mating birds, and of people too. For me, the balloon man’s whistle has something to do with alcohol. If you heed the call, it ushers you on to destruction. It makes me wonder what the antidote is, aside from the obvious answer of Jesus. Maybe reason and self control are indicated in our battle with the balloon man. There has to be something for controverting the whole crazy conspiracy of spring. People might say that the human condition is inescapable, yet I know there’s a way to obliterate the blind instinctive will. Who knows but that Jesus really is the answer?

Mystery

There’s still room for some things to be mysterious, but eventually people will know everything. Except… I had a dream the other night that one of the packers had found my old scarlet King James Version and returned it to me. It was a bible I had donated to De Paul’s many years ago. It was returned thinned out and with a note addressed to me urging me to read the book. Before that, I had a similar dream of graduation from group: I was given two books, one of them a pocket New Testament. In both dreams, the emphasis is on the New Testament. Perhaps there is still something I’m not understanding about Christ. Or maybe it’s not a matter of understanding?

Religion

Quarter of four. I ought to reread “The Divinity School Address” of Emerson. The hardest thing about the New Testament for me to accept is the schism produced when the Jewish people shouted to Pontius Pilate, “Crucify Him!” Is this history fact or fiction? It is the critical turning point of the whole Bible, but imo, so unfair to the Jews. We simply cannot single out a race of people for condemnation like this. And as for the supernatural and miracles, why are these limited to Judeo Christianity? Can’t miracles happen today as well, and without the mediation of Jesus Christ? Emerson: “The sun shines today also.” These questions are just honest, and could be asked by anybody. A child might do so. Could it be that the questions of a child might prevent another Holocaust?

An Old Maxim

Eleven o’clock. I dreamed about my next dreaded trip to Laurel Hill. This is what has worried me all day, but come out in the form of what happened longer ago. Does everyone fear being judged and criticized? Camus argues the absurdity of judging others from a standpoint of righteousness. Jesus spoke, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at (the adulteress).” And none of her accusers can do it, so one by one they exit the room. John 8:1-12. My brother’s stress in the Bible was always on non-judgment. He failed at his own maxim, but he had a good idea. He received the emphasis from our grandmother, who likewise failed to comply with it. Still it was a good idea. I think condemnation is a universal dread, no matter where it comes from. Every intelligence with a conscience fears judgment. It goes way back to the Old Testament days of stoning, as the passage in John reflects. When a person broke the commandments they were generally punished. I was nineteen when I read Camus’s The Fall the first time. The principle was quite biblical but without the supernatural element. As I recall, the climax was when a police officer exhibited cowardice in a situation. It was a little like the cowardly soldier in Sartre’s No Exit who wanted to be seen as a war hero. The theme in Camus made an impression on me, and then many years later I recognized the biblical source. Wherever you encounter this truism, it hits home due to its very humanness and antiquity. Tonight it surfaces for me in a dream…