East and West

Ten thirty at night.

It finally started raining late this afternoon. Some nights, like this one, are serene and calming to the nervous disposition. Before the rain, a Baptist pastor who was new to Eugene came to my door to promote his church on Irving Road. He asked me what Lutherans believe on how you get eternal life, so I told him what I knew from my experience. I took his postcard from his hand and he moved on with his young son to other houses on my street… Early today I read a chapter on Pythagorus in Russell’s History. Russell takes that opportunity to praise pure mathematics and the pleasure it gives people, but also it is used in music and metaphysics. But the geometric quality of Western metaphysics is different from Eastern mysticism, he says. I suppose the difference is like Descartes versus Joseph Campbell… When I practiced my bass guitar afterwards, I thought the geometry of the fingerboard had become subconscious.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter…

The loud and visceral tones of my electric bass are physical things, yet the conceptual notes are incorporeal and perfect, just as an ideal circle differs from a circle you draw with a compass. But I’m not sure that Russell’s treatment of Eastern philosophy is fair. I feel a counter impulse to read Campbell’s commentaries on Brahman— maybe tomorrow. 

Friday Evening

It always appalls me how people fail to understand simple determinism. Material causes and effects go on around us all the time, and our minds are subject to the same thing. People seem to believe that magic works. No, I won’t go to church Sunday because I don’t believe in the prayers of intercession. What is there to intercede, and how does it do so? It’s just a trick of the imagination. Every clan of people has a witch doctor of some sort and a belief in magic. I just don’t trust religion to solve our problems, though it’s a huge institution… a huge illusion. I can understand how Ayn Rand felt about superstition, and her reaction to the intellectual trend of her day. And I agreed with her for my first two years in college. Her philosophy was built on science mostly. On certainty. Objective reality was absolutely real and true, and that was the starting point of Objectivism.

Four thirty five. Waiting for the mail now. My life was a wild ride after my parents passed away. Too much religion in the world around me, rank superstition. Right now I don’t believe in Jung or Campbell, or anything based on human subjectivity. We are not such stuff as dreams are made on. But this opinion is rather unpopular these days, when people relate to the world from their emotions instead of from reason and science.

Quarter after nine. It could be that Ayn Rand excludes religious feeling from her philosophy due to the country that she emigrated from, Soviet Russia, where people were expected to worship no god but Communism. She arrived in the USA a stranger to religious freedom and remained that way all her life. I guess I can identify with her because my parents lived without religion one hundred percent. Until I was 24 years old I was an unbeliever, so it makes me wonder why I started having mythological delusions at that time. My old psychiatrist used to assert that there was nothing significant about this condition. Interestingly, his father also came from Russia, the same godless place… For a long time, my parents and everyone I knew were agnostic. I had one Christian friend who found himself in the same network of friends. Now it’s all backwards for me: I don’t know anyone who’s not religious. My milieu has changed completely, partly because I don’t use alcohol anymore. And this is its own kind of cause and effect.

Hands of Fate

Wee hours of the morning.

Just going with it. I’m up now, might as well write what I feel. Pitch blackness outside and nobody’s awake now. I wrote a poem. Turned out pretty good. I might change the title. It’s about the poet’s intuition, almost a statement of mysticism. The poet grasps truth directly and not from anything intermediate. This will be my new credo. Sure, it exalts the poet, but in a way, everyone is a poet. Everyone who dreams is a visionary. What is it about the sky, the sun, moon, and the stars? What can the heavens tell us about life? I guess everything we see is a mirror of ourselves, so that the truth is always interior. It is dream. I ought to read The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. Joseph Campbell is beautiful. His writing has a flow of eloquence to it similar to Emerson. I think it’s because both of them were steeped in the East, particularly Hinduism, that they were so articulate and poetic.

I don’t know what to do with this time. There’s a chimichanga in the freezer I could eat. To a certain extent I am still free. My parents ruled my life with an iron fist, and I’m rebelling against their ghosts. They weren’t very smart, and they weren’t very good at raising kids. At this moment I am resting potential. In another moment I may be eating or back in bed.

Quarter of eight. Well now I know of a real case of the coronavirus. My heart is penitent because it happened to a young poet. She says she is recovered, so I hope she feels better… Time to go to the store in a few minutes. Aesop needs dry food and treats. I’ll make an effort to be more serene and accepting of what I can’t control. Music may or may not come to fruition. This will have to be okay. It is out of my hands.

Mind Food

My new bible shipped today, so that’s on the way. If nothing else it’s a nice hardcover book 📚 coming in a nice package 📦. Savor the unpacking process like Christmas Day. Then open to the apostolic letters to try to find the heading “Not Philosophy but Christ.” In that section is where Paul claims that even philosophy is a carnal pleasure…. which doesn’t ring true to me. If Plato for instance were carnal then why did he write so much about the spirit world? Furthermore, remember that Plato lived and wrote roughly four hundred fifty years before Christ was born. Still further, one of the apostles borrowed a Platonic notion regarding the ideal world in his epistle. I remember running across it once or twice. The important thing to know about the Bible is that it wasn’t written down in a vacuum. It had influences from classical antiquity, and that’s why we have so many ancient tales of martyrs, virgin births, the arraignment and revenge of deities (compare Jesus Christ to Dionysus in Euripides), and a lot of common themes suggesting continuity of all human history and mythology that was written down. Campbell has already observed the fact. The Bible was surrounded by a whole vast record left by humankind. Moreover, it was arbitrary how the Church picked certain books of the Bible for inclusion. What they judged to be not divinely inspired they rejected. But those clergymen were human beings… This sort of “relativism” is the truth. The common thread for all of it is humanity, nothing greater or lesser. How can any one vision of God or the gods come forward as the only one? Any thinking layperson can ask this question, and she would be right…