I guess I’m bound for church this Sunday morning, though my motive for this is obscure to me. Logic tells me there’s nothing before or after the physics, and yet my imagination can conceive a nameless something. Maybe it’s a meaningless thing, but doesn’t imagination have an evolutionary purpose? And when all efforts at philosophy fail, look at the practical consequences of belief or unbelief. Not just practical but ethical, as when the bastard brother in Karamazov kills the old man, reasoning that everything is allowed if there’s no God… People have the power to grant or deny God existence. Now you see him, now you don’t, according to our whim, and whatever’s convenient for us. I just miss those days in the autumn a few years ago when I’d go to worship service. There was no shame or disgrace in doing this. Perhaps I wasn’t so self conscious at the time, and maybe I wanted to believe… I gave Aesop an oversized cookie before his breakfast; he’s still chipping away at it as the sun illuminates my magnolia in back, and I contemplate giving my sister a call today.
Eight o’clock in the morning.
I got up when it was black as ink outside with scattered showers. The sky glowed blue as I headed out to the market. When I reached the parking lot I saw Cathy’s SUV in its usual space and no sign of Michelle. I asked about her at the counter but got no information. At this point it looks as if she were not coming back to work at all, which would be a shame. Michelle is so nice and sympathetic to me, although her life was getting rather complicated.
The winter storms that hit the Northwest seem to be moving eastward over the continent, and the weather here is more temperate now. It’s very odd in America how people must be pigeonholed regarding their religious beliefs. I guess I’m an atheist if it comes to that, but I’d prefer to have my mind more open. Why is curiosity discouraged in the States? Or is it just Oregon that is so narrow minded except on college campuses? Frankly I don’t care what Alan Watts had to say about anything, and Carl Jung is dated. No one talks about Aaron Beck anymore; we’re shifting away from realism and back to the primordial slime all over again. I don’t understand it. I think it’s important to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on the path. Miracles don’t exist, in my opinion; everything can be explained rationally, and Darwin probably had the right idea. America doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up.
I just learned that a friend from church has tested positive for Covid. The virus I’ve got flows and ebbs in the course of a day. No one really knows anything. Consult the oracular Eight ball 🎱 for answers. It’ll be right half of the time.
Quarter of eleven at night.
Now I’m really confused. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be political at all, but just ride out what happens from day to day and keep my mouth shut. I never got around to reading a book today; I would have picked Montaigne, I think, for the beauty of the volume and the pleasure of holding it in my hands. The subject of his writing was simply himself, sort of like a Leaves of Grass a few centuries before Whitman came along… I wonder if I’ve been listening to my sister’s opinions a bit too much. Or perhaps I shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinion period. Everyone has a worldview they want to sell you. I seem to have absorbed a lot of ideas by listening to Rush records over the years; a very odd place to get an education. Even this afternoon I found myself playing “The Big Money” on my bass guitar… I suppose I’ve been brainwashed by a few different sources growing up. It’s hard to avoid this in our consumerist culture, everything packaged up nicely and placed in shop windows or delivered to your door. What better medium than music for creating little monsters to go out in the world? Still, a person can do much worse than to learn from a good Rush album or two.
Does anyone really know much of anything?
Eight twenty five.
An hour ago at the store I asked Heather if she thought rock and roll was dead, and she answered no. I said why not. She replied that the stuff young people listen to is just crap. She was raised by her grandmother and is kind of old school. Yesterday, I spotted some 3 pound bags of chicken jerky for dogs that I would have bought if they had been in the system at Community Market. The weather today is quite warm for this time of year, with a little bit of sun through the covering of clouds. I will decide at the last minute whether to go to church this morning. But I’m not really in the mood for hearing a dull abstract sermon about things that likely don’t exist. I feel more like seizing the day, maybe taking Aesop for a little walk later today, and celebrating being alive. Life has as much potential as we give it, and futurity is a friend just waiting for us to grab our opportunities to change and grow. Time never quits, but keeps moving on with or without you. And the only eternity is here on earth… Aesop barks at a car that just drove by the house. I’m thinking that I’ll resign from Our Redeemer so I can be free and independent to live life my own way, not dictated by a “spiritual leader.” I think I’m smart enough to navigate existence on my own. Hopefully my worst mistakes are all behind me. Already I have a plan for my day today. Plans can go wrong, yet with some flexibility, all shall be well… Well maybe I’ll go to worship one more time.
Quarter of noon.
I made it there and back on foot and heard the sermon: in some ways, Pastor said the same thing I’ve been saying about here and now. The difference is that he expects Christ to come again at any time… Is there anything wrong with judging an opinion for yourself? Does it indicate excessive pride if you do so? Some people believe that critical thinking is a recipe for unhappiness; but then, recall Socrates: the unexamined life is not worth living. Plato thought original thinking was indispensable, and everything is subject to scrutiny. But sometimes I feel like I don’t know much, and today is one of those times; except I know it’s too warm for November.
Quarter after seven.
During my sleep, I felt terrible all night long, so I’d like to know why. Is it because I got the vaccine last spring? The sky is like the skin of a nectarine mixed with gray. I feel very impatient with the whole pandemic situation, but I think Pastor Dan makes a bad thing even worse. He has let the idea of leadership go to his head. An article said that half of the people fear Covid, and the other half fear being controlled. I guess I’m in the second category. For this reason, my mind is full of doubts and fears concerning having a personal care attendant. Maybe this is what troubles my sleep. I treasure my independence and I hate feeling dominated by other people. It seems contradictory to hire a person to be your boss.
Eight thirty. Two people have advised me to just try the PCA thing and if it doesn’t work out, then I can say I gave it a fair chance. I was just outdoors: the clouds were scalloped against the blue, but otherwise, the scene looked pretty much the same as every day. I’ve left my shopping bag at my feet just now, and my Hot Pocket might thaw out before I can put it in the freezer. I’m being lazy, but I’m also tired and depressed. Hand in hand with this go feelings of resentment and a little anger because I feel so helpless and powerless right now. Maybe it’s simply the rock and roll impulse in me that makes me rebellious and difficult. Then again, our founders never knew about rock music, yet they were full of the Enlightenment spirit of liberty and happiness and the audacity to know. And they were not at all superstitious. Every individual ought to be like Benjamin Franklin and harness the lightning, but we seem to have forgotten how. It goes far beyond technology. It is the science of our souls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.