Tower of Babble

Wee hours.

I don’t remember what I wrote about in my journal in the evening… wait; I recorded a dream from the morning before. It was about being a rainmaker, also one who can stop the rain from falling. The conclusion was personal responsibility for my alcoholism as opposed to conferring authority on another human being. Another way of saying this is the cliché, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” I just woke up from a dream of my brother making one of his trips to the coast, and I refused to go with him on a drinking spree. So instead he took our mother with him… The amazing thing about human life is the way we can choose a paradigm like indeterminism from determinism, or freedom from bondage, and our actions will be done as if the belief was true. The truth is that every theory is constructed of words, which as easily can be deconstructed and disbelieved. Thus I reject psychodynamics, the traditions of Freud and Jung, for their determinism, and embrace Continental philosophy that has its roots in Cervantes as far as I can tell. Is Don Quixote crazy or sane? For one, I opt to pronounce him of sound mind… With words, you can write yourself a prison cell or rather a pair of wings to fly on. You can analyze or you can build yourself a tower to heaven. Language really has that power.

Stormy Night

Eight thirty at night.

I’m feeling kind of sad this evening. Outside it’s a night of high winds, and they warn of flash flooding, but my neighborhood is far from water. I told Aesop to be careful when I let him out for a potty break, and I worried about limbs falling from the oak tree. It was a day of bizarre contingencies, and of people misunderstanding each other like T.S. Eliot’s game of chess. Culture is in a state of fragmentation. We seem to speak different languages, our punishment for the Babel Tower, aspiring to the exaltation of the deity. Or maybe this is the isolation of being a deep thinker. The opossum, my uninvited guest, makes a small racket under the bathroom and Aesop barks his anxiety and frustration, answered by a few other canine voices from far away. The animal kingdom harmonizes, so why doesn’t the human world? People don’t treat each other well. Instead, we thwart and baffle one another. Now I’ve heard the thunder: I say the word, and Aesop barks nervously. Everyone understands what thunder means. Perhaps it’s what this whole day has built up to. Afterwards it’ll be a relief and a release of tension. For now, we just hang on.

Equity

Nine fifty PM.

I just got done watching the official video for “Pride” by U2. I guess there’s something to be said for icons after all, but I feel that there must be a reason for my de emphasis on pomp and grandeur. Now I think of the former president with a shudder of dread for his egomania, but it’s really a symptom of an American disease. We always want things larger than life to feel entertained and satisfied. But why aren’t we happy with the little things? The media amplifies everything out of proportion without a thought to its impact on the public. We need to be more responsible for what we say.

My dog Aesop is so intelligent that his feelings can be hurt if I say the wrong thing. I told him that he was overweight yesterday, and today he pouted for most of the day and refused the carrot sticks I offered him as snacks. He’s self conscious about his weight! It makes me wonder about his interior monologues: what does he think in his canine tongue? Sometimes I wish I was Dr Doolittle so we could understand each other. Or, like Sigurd in Viking mythology, I could drink the dragon’s blood and be given comprehension of animal speech.

Every living creature deserves to be heard.

Grammar Rules (or Does It?)

Quarter of ten.

I begged Gloria for a light duty day since my dental ordeal Thursday morning and the long day yesterday. So now she’s mopping the floors while I take a siesta on the loveseat, languidly writing a desultory note to myself. The weather is rather lemon.

Eleven fifty five. The clouds have blown away to make a bright sunny Saturday. I was thinking that if humanity has free will, then anything is possible with our lives, including breaking bad habits like alcohol abuse. Independence is essential to everything we do, and often no one’s opinion matters but your own. Contrary to what people tell you, you are capable of thinking for yourself… I might go bash my four string war club down the hall a while, make a brash brutal rock and roll racket on it for my daily catharsis. Or I could read Richard Wright or Mark Twain. It’s possible to do both today. But I think I’ll be considerate of my dog’s anxiety and spend the day quietly. Even this, however, is a personal choice from a few available options. I merely looked before leaping… Everyone anticipated this beautiful weekend, but now that it’s here, I feel very tired, sore, and somewhat dodgy and daft. I think I’ll delay making a decision.

Three twenty.

I ended up both reading and playing the bass, and both were fun. Outside, the quality of the sunlight feels rather obscure and filtered; maybe dark and sensuous. Church happens tomorrow, but if I went, I’d know my reasons were insincere, for I’m not a true Christian. I feel tugged in several directions. But what’s done is a done deal. The future presents options; but “when you look behind you there’s no open doors.” And there is no would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve: only what actually happened; what you did. Everything else is a trick of grammar.

For a Teacher

Six forty.

I had a little malfunction with my medication for a while but now I’m back on track. I can hardly wait to use my next Peter Pauper journal, the cover design is so pretty. The image is called “Mystic Moon.” Soon I will spoil its virgin pages with the scope of my thought and probably never get anywhere; no kind of revelation that lasts more than a day. Right now I’m stuck on the problem of logic versus poetic language. If you think like a positivist, then what do you do with poetry, unless poetry is grounded in reality like with Carlos Williams? I haven’t looked at Richard Hugo’s poetry in a very long time, but I remember how dense and difficult it was. The difficulty was not due to being abstract at all, but rather the diction was quite deliberate and unexpected, original at every point, with lots of adjectives. The method of contemporary poetry is much different from Romanticism and Modernism. It cuts down all abstracts and employs details to evoke emotion in the reader. Or anyway, that’s what I was taught in my last writing workshop. It’s a lesson I mostly disregard nowadays, though maybe heeding it would benefit my writing today. And I owe this learning to Ellen, wherever she is now. She reminds me that American poetry didn’t end with the Modern movement. 

Last Words

The old psychiatrist used to say, if you’re looking for it, you’ll find it. I often believe that politics and sociology are responsible for my personal thoughts, but this is impossible to show, and it may be a delusion of thought insertion. Suffice it that I’ve been unwell for the past month. I can blame anybody I want but it doesn’t achieve anything. I was able to concert my brain enough to play my bass this afternoon, which sounded great. I really like FretWire kits, Omega bridges, and Rotosound stainless steel strings. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your gear to sound like a pro.

Quarter of midnight.

My mind is a blank, my mind’s eye void. Philosophy is very involved with language, and is it really conceivable to see reality beyond the scope of our words? I’m a naive optimist about that. Reality for a person with aphasia does not simply dissolve to nothing. It still remains but without the names. The church pastor was probably a pessimist on the same issue: knowledge depends on speech, on language and words; in the beginning was the word, etc etc. But what happens if you do slip under the net of language? Is there still a language of feeling, like music? And what do objects look like with no names? This would be my last argument with Pastor Dan, living in his little sphere of words upon words and sermon after sermon: words words words in an endless flow like a stream which you follow to the sea— or to a desert drought where reality ends. But that’s just it: does reality vanish where there are no words? For the answer to this I should revisit Shelley’s poetry. 

The Word

Eleven o’clock at night.

Everything’s in a state of decay, so that a better leader is needed, not necessarily in politics but some humanist writer or other artist is called for. Where is Neil Peart when we need him? I feel motivated to take up my reading of Twain again and reflect on human dignity to try to pull us out of despair. A few lines from The Exorcist occur to me. Father Merrin says that the demon’s strategy is to “make us see ourselves as animal and ugly.” So the antidote to this is to deify the human form, as the Greeks succeeded in doing in the transition from Egyptian religion to classical mythology and beyond to philosophy, where we see the rise of civilization with Aristotle… The human race should aspire to building a new Tower of Babel to touch heaven and unite the world’s languages as one. In the beginning— and the end— is the word. Faith in logos will be our savior, though we have to do it ourselves. 

Poetry in Motion

Nine twenty at night.

The weather was very pretty this afternoon, and 70 degrees out. Only a few lonely clouds drifted across the blue sky. And like a little cloud, I had a disagreement with the rep for my health insurance on the phone today. However, I stood my ground and got my way with them after she spoke with her supervisor. The only drawback I’ve seen with my insurance company is how they insist on a really bad dental program. It was like pulling teeth, but I managed to switch over to something much better. Sometimes you have to advocate for yourself to get what you need. I’ve also heard of other people having trouble getting help with the taxi service for the disabled. I don’t think it’s a matter of good or bad luck in dealing with people. Rather, it is being persistent and smart about doing it.

The most picturesque thing I saw at the agency this morning was Misty when she glided in the automatic door from the sunshine. And like the sun, she spoke not a word to us guys who greeted her, but made a cryptic gesture with her left hand, then sauntered majestically away towards the pharmacy and the dispensary…

Now I remember that I corrected the rep’s pronunciation of “colorectal.”

In Touch

Nine twenty five.

I slept in this morning, which was kind of nice but for some bad dreams about people I know from the community. My dreams are often quite realistic and plausible, and now that I’ve quit going to church, the “net” or filter of language has mostly dissolved and dropped away from me. This means that my dreams and feelings come through clearly with more force… I think an optimistic outlook is a good thing, and I wonder why I have this boding of gloom and doom at all times unless I catch myself and correct it with a rational response. The beauty that once was still is today as long as we’re looking for it. I don’t go to the extreme of Descartes saying I think therefore I am; this is probably backwards from the truth, and philosophy might be quite disposable in my opinion. But it’s a truism that the item of language is very difficult to overcome. Stripped of everything else, I still hear music in my ears, and music is just another language, a vocabulary of feeling rooted in mathematics.

Right now I’m relaxing with my dog in our family room. He’s had his breakfast of beef in gravy and my Snapple tea was great but I drank it too fast. Outdoors it’s quite warm and cloudy. I heard Lisa say that today is her first Friday on the job at the market. She seemed a bit stressed but she was handling it okay. Karen of the salon was jabbering on her phone when I passed her door, so I figured I wouldn’t interfere today. She appears to be always on her phone and doesn’t know how to prioritize between people in person and those on the phone line. This behavior comes across as a little rude whenever I try to talk with her. And voila just another case of crossed signals in human contact with each other. 

Stranded

Seven eleven.

I woke up at three thirty this morning and put off getting up for another hour, and then I knew I couldn’t sleep any more. An hour ago I walked to the store in inky blackness, mindful of my footing on the way. I feel confident that my addiction to alcohol is all in the past by now. The morning light is coming up overcast blue, the trees not yet green. Being a wordsmith has been interesting for five years, but today I have my doubts about its future. I had a friend who was very literal with language and a nihilist about ethics and metaphysics: things that depend heavily upon abstract language. It’s hard to argue with a positivist, someone so sensory for whom all abstraction is futile. Our relationship ended when I was driven in the opposite direction, towards a myriad of words, words, words, building castles in the air. However, now I believe she might have been right in her quiet, her reticence, and the spareness of her thought. The problem is likely one of those with no answer. In that case I’m bound to be a skeptic, a person who doesn’t know either way, like an agnostic. Romantics use tons of poetic language. Realists cut speech down to what is only verifiable. And the skeptic is the one stranded in the middle: the loneliest place, like an island in the moon.