Ook! Ook!

Six forty.

It is rather odd how information gets processed in our minds, or maybe mine is idiosyncratic. You can’t assume anything about the influences on a work of music or literature. And maybe the information just isn’t available. An example is Moby Dick. I can’t prove that Melville ever read Schopenhauer prior to writing his novel, and yet the resemblance to the other’s philosophy is uncanny. Things like intuition and induction can’t be trusted to be accurate, which for me is a big disappointment and a painful revelation. The defeat is so dispiriting that I feel like giving up. Well, it’s time to go to the store. Is all knowledge useless? How do we know what we know?

Seven fifty. Suk, who owns the store, said it’s a very slow day today. Between six and seven o’clock, only one customer came. It’s a ghost town out there. But— through her front window I could see the nape of Kat’s neck where she sat on a couch watching tv. Her blond hair was done up in a ponytail very prettily. I imagined going up to her door and saying hello, but the hour was ungodly early. Besides, her husband was probably home: all of their vehicles were there. A few minutes ago I tried calling my sister, fruitlessly, so I’m guessing that her son is also home. All of these expendable guys, mostly ignorant… “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street… Look over there (where?) there goes a lady that I used to know / She’s married now or engaged or something so I’m told.” Whatever happened to Joe Jackson? It’ll be a long day. The last time I heard that song was probably on the Friday of the Fourth of July weekend in 2005. I got off work and stopped by Safeway for a half rack of Foster’s and Stouffer’s stuffed peppers. Then I got home and started my little party for one, putting on the music and imagining myself in junior high school again.

Nine o’clock. Only a month later, on one hung over Monday morning, I quit that job, and in another six months got rehired. It just seemed like such a hamster wheel with no reward that I cared about. We live in a very materialistic society, women and men alike, which makes it difficult for something like love to exist. And all I can do is make blog posts to bewail the situation. I’d give anything to see it all melt away, replaced by a new Renaissance where people dare to love and to know; where life is one big epic poem, and everybody is Tirso de Molina.

Eyesight

Seven twenty five.

After four doses of the Risperdal, so far so good, except last night I had some difficulty breathing in bed. But as I lay there, eventually I recalled a recent dream of my first bass guitar, and then melatonin kicked in and I fell asleep. Late last night I made a few pages of notes in my journal, with the rediscovery that I am far more Platonic than I am Christian, as I’ve known from twenty five years back. Probably this is due to my education. Nowhere else than a university will they teach you to think for yourself. Of course it depends on how you use college. It never occurred to me that I was responsible for my student career, and that my actions were chosen deliberately by me. Do I know only what my school wanted me to know? Yet I still don’t feel like a cog in the machine or a yes man to readymade beliefs. Sitting through a sermon nowadays can make me wiggle a little in discomfort. When an argument is bad, my reflex is to raise objections and questions. Not exactly like Christian faith, which is blind and credulous.

Eight thirty. Reason is a power of eyesight and insight, a bright light that shines a path through your life. Feed it on good things and it will grow to be a great lighthouse in the storm of BS… It is still early in the morning, the sun not yet up very high. I’ve got no agenda for today, which suits me just fine. 

Bacchae and a Dream

Quarter of eleven.

During my nap I had a wild dream about a cult of chicken worshipers that bore a resemblance to my church. Like the devotees to Dionysus they tore their victims to pieces. The chickens may actually have been turkeys, because of November and Thanksgiving. Towards the end of the dream I was being prepared for slaughter, but the parishioners delayed my sacrifice until November. They had been feeding me the flesh of chickens, whatever that means, and the whole chicken or turkey worship thing… I guess I’m not going to church tomorrow morning. I imagine that the chicken symbolizes a certain kind of spirit, in the style of Nietzsche, where Christians were represented by the camel. Traditionally we say “chicken” to indicate cowardice; also the chicken is a flightless bird and a witless piece of livestock. And turkeys are known for their stupidity. But I still wonder if there’s a connection with the ancient cult of Dionysus and the way the bacchants in a frenzy ripped people to pieces. Or more specifically, they tore King Pentheus of Thebes limb from limb after he had imprisoned their master and summoned him to trial. The earth itself squirts geysers of wine and milk at the liberation of Dionysus. I should review the tragedy by Euripides; I read it once fifteen years ago, in order to prove that Jesus Christ was a fictional character, no more real than Dionysus. It pays to know your classics and to compare mythologies. The price of ignorance is your freedom. 

Educated Guesses

Nine ten. Besides Michelle, I was the only geek wearing a mask in public today. Everyone else ignored the mandate from Kate Brown, or maybe hadn’t heard the news about it. I met with more signs of life this time because I went out later than usual. People greeted me with a good-morning on Fremont Street, face mask or no. I saw Jessica in the store and said hi. She is shy and not very friendly, or perhaps it’s because I’m a guy… I left a voicemail for the PT people to cancel my appointment. My pretext was very reasonable: the heat is just too much for me…

I would like to do some more reading in Goethe today. I wonder if I should dig out the massive volume of him and pore over it? There’s always more to learn, even if people generally have discarded metaphysics and magic: mysticism in a word.

Ten o five. Across the street from my house, Roger keeps busy on a tinkering project, his head not in the clouds, but his mind on the matter. Of course I could be wrong about that. He might be wool gathering— or in his mind, inventing the greatest thing since the wheel. A perpetual motion machine will be reality even as I make guesses about Roger’s thinking. Somewhere, a mad scientist is creating life in a test tube, no zygote or cloning; just from the substance of life and a little electricity.

Eleven o’clock. The prospect of lunch calls me away. Reality bites. 

Does Mephisto Know?

Quarter after seven.

Today I’m supposed to see my med prescriber at the agency, so I hope the taxi comes through for me. I didn’t notice much on my trip for groceries. The dairy distributor guy bought a few items from Michelle. Part of me asks what I was doing there so early in the morning. All I could observe was how my body felt: old, tired, sore, and crippled, while my head was reeling and dodgy. “Without love, where would you be right now? / Without love…” But those old love songs don’t necessarily mean anything, do they? You can hear them in any public place, comforting you and goading you to buy more stuff. I never used to feel so cynical, yet something has gotten into me. The introduction to the Penguin edition of Faust, Part One includes this phrase: “Cynicism is the only sin.” It pertains to Mephistopheles, the devil in his intellectual role. I found this information twenty years ago and I never forgot it. If we can’t afford to be innocent, we also have to trust something beyond ourselves.

It’s another cloudy morning. I was just tracking a strange archaic beetle on the wall, when to my surprise it flew with a farting noise across the room towards the kitchen. I didn’t expect it to have wings. It only shows that I don’t know much about entomology, or maybe a lot more besides. 

Back to Church

Seven thirty.

At nine o’clock I plan to go to church and get a tuneup of my spirit. Aesop will have breakfast at eight thirty. It’s another sunny morning with hardly a breath of wind. I feel a little anxious yet calm at the same time, as if quietly expecting some minor catastrophe. I’ve been to the store already, and Raj was opening today after a long absence. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be perfect, or that perfect doesn’t exist. I dreamed this morning about my old psychiatrist, who apparently wanted my business again. This only means that I miss seeing him, but in reality he was rude to me towards the end of my sessions. The last time I saw him was four years ago. He shared a political joke with me that I enjoyed, but it wasn’t enough to fix the damage.

Eight thirty five. Is the past really a bucket of ashes? Some people want to demonize everything that happened before, but I can actually draw strength and learning from the lessons of my past. It makes little sense to categorically condemn our past experiences. Our lessons give us evidence that what we need to do can be done because we did it before… I have to leave in ten minutes.

One forty. Well I got it done, actually went to church and saw most of my old friends. I think Sheryl was the happiest to see me, but also Tim, Lisa, and Doug. The sermon seemed to harmonize with my situation of dealing with evil in the world, and the difficulty of doing this. I was only away from home for two and a half hours, then when I got back I had my potato salad and crashed with the dog for a little nap. The weather continues sunny like yesterday, except there’s no wind this time, and the stillness and quiet of Sunday feel quite impenetrable. 

Dare to Know

Eight thirty.

It’s been raining softly since last night. Band practice today looks unlikely, so I get the weekend to myself. Not going to church tomorrow, and maybe never again. Religion is only a political tool of control. I’ve given up metaphysics at last; there’s no evidence for the supernatural, no reason to believe. I may be turning into a Nietzsche nut or something, even without being versed in his writing… It should be Melissa at the market today. I wonder what her shirt will say this time? Aesop is getting hungry. Rain in the spring always evokes for me the memory of being in college 33 years ago. I carried a green and yellow Duck umbrella with me between classes. I got a good dose of Nietzsche in school that year.

Quarter of ten. Melissa’s sweater said “Mama saurus.” She was busy with the muffins when I walked in. During my promenade I thought ruefully of my parents and schooldays— ruefully only because they are gone. Still, the stuff I learned is very difficult to unlearn, and I’m thankful for that. I got a very good education, very broad and comprehensive. I’m not sure how it happened, but no one tries to brainwash me anymore. Maybe they figured it was wasted energy to attempt it. Why should one opinion be master over another? It should be enough to let them coexist. Evangelism drove me crazy in the years after my mother died. But now, Jesus to me is merely a sociopolitical construct for controlling people. The idea of sin and repentance doesn’t sound good to me at all today. As for kneeling down in humility and obedience, forget it. So, I won’t be missing anything at church tomorrow… The rain has started again, very lightly from a white cloud cover. It missed me an hour ago; just a few drops hit my head. People ought to dare to know and be clever. There is no divine punishment for being smart. The image of hell is a deception, a threat of a spanking to you if you do what’s good for yourself. Don’t let the internal critic get the upper hand and bring you down. Your worst enemy is you. 

The University Ideal

Five o’clock in the morning.

I just made an interesting connection between Plato and Jung. Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious may be similar to the Forms in the spirit world of Plato. Both are a kind of cookie cutter for our conscious reality. I’m still not a fan of Jung due to his racism and his general snobbery, preferring Emerson’s open minded attitude toward people and knowledge. Underneath it all lives a universal truth that every thinker has had a shot at identifying. They each have given it names and personal features, yet the secret continues to shift shapes like a great amorphous blob of prime matter… Speaking of this, I looked up hylomorphism on Wikipedia and recognized some concepts from Aristotle I’d learned at the university long ago. I’m just an amateur philosopher muddling my way, but the important point is to never stop learning.

Six o’clock. It is criminal how people have been priced out of higher education in the United States. But at the same time, most students who get to go to college can hardly wait to graduate and start making money. They don’t appreciate what they have while they’re there… And then again, maybe the university is not a physical place with a geographical location. Perhaps it is the spirit of the desire to know and be the perpetual student. Somewhere in the spiritual universe resides the University Ideal, and like the New Jerusalem, a day will come when its Form materializes on earth.