Transcending Words

I think I was up at a quarter till five this morning. A very long haul. I must be getting a little punchy from fatigue. As I was writing a while ago, old dreams came back to me, particularly one that has repeated many times. It’s about a friend I knew when we were young and had music in common with. He lived in an old white house with his family on the corner of H—Lane and F— Lane. In my dreams, the house had a very bright interior and I’d be calling him on the phone to arrange a jam that same night. His mom was sort of the gatekeeper who answered the phone and gave the official nod to Chris that it would happen.
But thinking on it now, he and I were very different types. His family was quite religious and exclusive, while I came from a secular household, and I was a rather naive, honest babe in the woods. But we both shared an innate ability for music that could transcend our differences of ideology and culture, at least for a while. Today, we don’t have much in common anymore. Now he’s a music producer living in Nashville, with values totally different from mine, so that we’re alien planets to each other, using languages neither of us can understand.
Still, I wonder about the universality of music as a language. If we used music to break down barriers before, is it possible to do so again?

Language and Lost Time

Quarter of nine at night.

I had a series of bad dreams of being persecuted, but why is harder to nail down. It was because of my inquiring intellect that a man was trying to poison me. He believed that I was not a team player but some sort of traitor. The setting for the dream resembled the shipping and lab areas at my old workplace long ago. Was I really guilty of a crime, or was it just my presence or existence that raised the alarm?

After my nightmare, I got up and checked the thermostat, whose clock said “21:11.” Then I made a little discovery. The cover to the last Rush CD shows a clock that indicates “9:12,” or in military time, 21:12. Either by chance or by design, the birthdate of my sobriety was September 12, or 9/12 of 2017. I guess I should listen to Clockwork Angels. As it stands, I’ve got the CD still in the plastic for a kind of time capsule. And maybe I should save it for later.

Nine thirty five.

Now I’m thinking that I’ve been through the mill with this illness and for a long time, with alcohol. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia: it runs in families, but also they guess it has something to do with immune system problems. Its onset is triggered by stress. All I know is it’s a pain in the derrière. Sometimes in my sleep I remember the hospital stays in 2016 for alcohol withdrawals and other health complications, like arrhythmia as a side effect of antipsychotic medication. I lost track of how many times I’d been in the hospital for these issues and suicidal ideation; it blurred together in one big nightmare. But luckily I never went to jail and by a fluke I’m still alive and able to write this. Only a couple of times did I lose my coherence: my facility for language mostly stayed intact, even through the looniest experiences. Thus the light of language is by far my greatest blessing, because without communication a schizophrenic is really screwed.

Clouds; Outdoor School

Quarter after nine.

Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I opened up Mallarme to read some, but the vocabulary was far beyond me and it would take a lot more work to interpret a single poem. Also I lamented the fact that my French writing skills have atrophied. I should take a class and brush it up. I might feel younger if I practice the language again and access that bucket in my brain… It’s Saturday and yet the market was doing a good business before nine o’clock. Mostly guys as usual; I saw one woman. I felt kind of glad to get out of there with such a crowd. Then I looked around me at the clouds, walking along the storefront, which appeared almost blue with cold. They dwarfed human cities and human affairs, having about them an inscrutable quality, alien and other. The only thing stranger than clouds by day is clouds at night. Or maybe, to me, the French language itself.

Quarter of eleven.

Gloria and I had breakfast at Carl’s Jr, passing the new high school that now looks quite finished on the exterior. The dark gray brick walls give it an ominous vibe, and the whole place is enormous and intimidating. It’s like Mordor as opposed to the Shire, a wicked thing of mass production and industry, a factory for producing citizens. It’s nothing like the Outdoor School of Tagore a long time ago in India. It isn’t even like my own college where we had poetry classes on the lawn. The personal touch is missing, and nothing much of nature still remains.

An Insight

Quarter of eleven at night.

Saturday’s Child

Through a process of desultory reading and writing I’ve arrived at a few insights about astrology mostly lost to people today. It started with an end note to Verlaine’s Saturnian Poems, saying he chose the title because of the work he had to put into them, as if ordained by Saturn. Then a week or so later, I rifled through Baudelaire and chanced on his poem addressing Sisyphus, whose punishment in hell was the pointless labor of pushing a round boulder up a hill eternally. Baudelaire also prayed for the term of his suffering to be short. I gathered from this the idea that for him, life is pain and suffering. The image of Sisyphus was taken up by Camus in one of his essays. The last thing came to me like an inspiration. Stephen Stills wrote a song, “Everydays,” he gave to Yes to record in 1970. The first verse goes,

Look at the sad goodbyes

Every day’s a killing time

Sun coming up outside

No men are born this time

Saturday’s Child stays home

Nothing to say, so long

In turn, the meaning of Saturday’s Child is revealed by an old nursery rhyme.

Monday’s Child is fair of face,

Tuesday’s Child is full of grace,

Wednesday’s Child is full of woe,

Thursday’s Child has far to go,

Friday’s Child is loving and giving,

Saturday’s Child works hard for his living…

Finally, you only need to make the connection between Saturday and Saturn to make complete sense of the role of hard work in the essence of Saturday’s Child. Saturn in astrological tradition is the tester and taskmaster for those it rules.

A Little Grotesque

I haven’t been thinking much about Christmas today. I’ve read the first two acts of The Tempest. Pretty good. The slaves of Prospero both want their freedom. These are Ariel and Caliban. The latter is a deformed anthropoid brute, smelling of fish, who was taught language by Miranda and whose mother was Sycorax, a witch. There’s something interesting about a monster learning to speak and express feelings that are barely human. It’s much like the monster in Frankenstein, who is not human, and represents the sublime. Or how about teaching sign language to gorillas and chimpanzees? Or the voice of the raven croaking Nevermore from the bust of Athena over the door? Another thing: Caliban says that learning English was only convenient for him to curse with. He really doesn’t like his master, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster systematically popping off his family… Anyway, I’m about halfway through the play.

I still haven’t heard the news from Gloria, and she didn’t come to work today, as I wouldn’t have expected. Aesop and I spent a quiet day alone together while the wind howled and once some sleet came down mixed with rain. The only excursion was to the store this morning, which was nothing unusual for me, though Lisa reported having a bad day so far. When I thought about that later, it seemed like the fragmentation in Mrs Dalloway, with everyone locked in their private worlds. It’s impossible for people to truly share their perceptions, even through the seeming agreement of language.

This is just the mood I’m in today. Tomorrow I have to go to church like I agreed to do. Hope for the best.

I got the H.G. Wells book yesterday. Found it on my doorstep when I went out for the mail. It’s very nice, with a format very similar to the Verne volume.

I probably hang out too much with my dog here at home, but it’s quite fascinating to observe how his mind functions. His intelligence is nearly human, unless I project much of myself onto him. Strange to consider such a relationship between animal and man, as if we could really communicate together. Some dogs are a little too smart, I suppose. What we have here tends to blur the boundaries of one nature and the other. I guess that’s why I feel a little confused on what defines a human being versus the definition of animals. Now I’ve finally put my finger on it.

Aesop is not a person!


One o’clock.

I think it’s going to rain again very soon. I just played my new Jazz Bass; a lot of squirreling noises mostly but still fun for me. The tone of it is really awesome; a great sounding little instrument, but I should give myself credit for my technique also. For musical reasons I miss Blueface, my old rock band from twenty years in the past. But regarding culture I guess life today is safer. “Whether you walk the breadth of extremity or stick to some straighter line.” And yet I don’t think a person can do things like music all alone. I knew a friend who got sober and was able to make his music projects work out. But he had a totally different personality from mine and his AA “God” seems to have helped him on his way. Everyone is different and the niche I’ve found was actually something I carved for myself. And though the sound of music fills me with regret, still I feel satisfied in the world that my language has created. The theme of the power of language makes me want to read more by Borges; somewhere I’ve got his Labyrinths on the shelf. Even the most unlikely things can be made real or at least subsistent through verbal creativity, and nature will yield before imagination. Well, some people like Carnap have disagreed with this statement. I just enjoy the debate, and I think of Poe and Jules Verne inventing stuff like travel to the moon, the submarine, etc in their minds only but over time inspiring their fruition: their realization. These prophecies are now accomplished history. So that Borges is right. The human imagination is unstoppable. And from subsistence to real existence is not a long trip. 


Seven o’clock.

This time I walked to market under the bright stars and directly overhead the small crescent moon shone at the meridian. Lenore’s car is still gone and she left her dog to fend for herself. I hear her barking at night occasionally. At the store, body language tells the whole story. I must have winced yesterday when Lisa’s mouth was so foul, because today she commented that sometimes profanity is not warranted, especially in the workplace. I never claimed to be a saint, though people have said that bad words sound wrong coming out of my mouth. Oh well. Aesop was overjoyed as always when I told him I brought home his chicken strips. Outdoors, the streetlight is on yet, while the daylight is just coming. In some places there will be thick fog.

The ocean breezes cool my mind

The salty days are hers and mine

Just to do what we want to

Tonight we’ll find a dune that’s ours

And softly she will speak the stars

Until sunup

Language can curse or it can bless. Either way, it creates the world we inhabit. With this responsibility, we are wiser to beautify life and go for paradise.


Six thirty.

The sun won’t come up for another hour and I don’t really want to go to the store in the inky darkness. I have Gloria today at nine; I thought we would get some dog shampoo at Mini Pet Mart and some toilet paper from Bi Mart. Aesop’s fleas are still bugging him, even after a dose of medication. His happiness is important to me because he is more than just a dog, he’s an intelligence. So, when I work up the energy, I’m giving him a bath… I think I see a hint of daylight in the east just now. Very soon I’ll make my run over to the market. The idea of tramping the streets and thoroughfares sort of reminds me of a scene from Mrs Dalloway, dipping in and out of the minds of people. The difference is that, at seven in the morning, there’s nobody out walking around except me. But the skyline is growing rose and pomegranate and it’s about time for my little trip.

Quarter of eight.

When I got there, Lisa was shooting the bull with a tall guy with tattoos, swearing like a trooper. And I wondered what I was doing there, hearing four letter words and kind of cringing at the sound. My dad used to say that using profanities displays a want of vocabulary, and probably of brainpower too. To some extent he had a point… Now the sun is huge and glaring right in my face, a big orange ball. I’m still thinking of Lisa’s foul mouth and just why it bothers me. Maybe I’m not the only one it offends.

Falling Star

Eight thirty five at night.

If all the language in the world were to come to an end, then what would happen to our notions of metaphysics: would there still be a heaven or a place where the Forms exist? I once had a friend whose anti poetry was her philosophy. She didn’t register figurative language of poetry, things like metaphors and symbols. During the last few months I knew her, she said she felt more comfortable with silence. She liked a song by The Beatles titled “I’m Only Sleeping” (written by John Lennon), and this made her mysterious to me like the muteness of the Sphinx… But if all the words fell away, and if heavenly angels fell to earth like a shower of meteors, then what would we do for rules of conduct with no Absolute? Would there be any law at all? This is a problem with analytic philosophy; with thinkers like Wittgenstein denying the spiritual and moral any reality. But the truth itself is another issue. Perhaps we ought to live our lives as if the fictions we create were absolutely true rather than letting the language lapse.

Pen Is Mightier

Quarter of ten.

Gloria is here vacuuming the house.

We shared a Snapple for her break. My dog isn’t very happy about being shut up in the bedroom. While the weather is sunny, the smoke is pretty bad outside. But overall it’s a pleasant kind of morning.


Early this morning I noticed that Lenore’s sprinkler system was malfunctioning. One sprinkler head merely gushed water and made a gurgling mess. Lenore is away from home for indefinite, so I took a piece of lined paper and a black Sharpie and wrote her a note. Then I walked over and put it under her doormat. Hopefully she’ll see it and take care of the problem, all good.

I’ve got nothing literary to say except for the power of the written word in something as trivial as a note to a neighbor left on the doorstep. Sometimes writing lives longer than the generations of people or a mighty kingdom, like the poem “Ozymandias.” Or, Lenore might wad up my note and throw it away…