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. 

So to Speak

Quarter of eleven.

Right now it’s very quiet in the house. I got a late start going to the store due to an appointment with Rebecca. It’s rather warm outdoors. Everyone I met on my way was friendly and fairly cheerful. Pumpkin pie ice cream is available for the season already, and some house fronts are decked out for Halloween: headstones, skeletons, ghosts, Jack o lanterns, and spiderwebs are common themes. Something made me remember the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann, this German guy who wrote his stuff in a tavern, which helped to fire his imagination. I often resolve to read more of him but somehow it doesn’t get done. Maybe that was a phase I went through… There’s nothing else in my schedule for the rest of the week, so I guess I could make a trip to the bookstore and snag that bargain hardcover of Oz novels. Something to pitch me over the rainbow without drinking beer in a time when escape is desirable. But this wouldn’t be much different from reading Hoffmann. The point is to get out of the house and see some people.

Noon hour. The sun has come out but simultaneously it’s windy. My dog is growing more “food motivated” all the time, and also pickier about what he eats… I’ve thought about the kind of language I use when I compose posts, and about speech in general. I feel that I should get with the present time and place instead of being an anachronism or a throwback to things nobody remembers. Even the language itself changes, dropping some words as archaic and all but obsolete. Fifty cent words are worth nothing to people who don’t know their definition, and people don’t bother to look them up. Let’s see if I can keep this resolution and keep the words simple. 

Obtuse

Midnight.

“Knowledgeability.” I opened Apple Notes and typed this word in for spelling accuracy. A funny kind of word: take “knowledge” plus “ability” and jam them together. It came up in my blank book because I was writing of how my former band mates paid me a compliment on my knowledge of music and other things: and yet I wasn’t sure how to spell this simple word. Was I supposed to omit the “e” in “knowledge” before adding “ability?” Sometimes the purest simplicity escapes me, like the color of a person’s eyes or even the shirt they are wearing. Call me obtuse. Call me absentminded. 

Dog Named Ichabod

Wee hours.

I did too much caffeine yesterday afternoon, so now it’s hard to sleep. Still, I’m thankful for the autumn and the rejuvenation I get from it. I used to have a friend who played guitar, and also was a fan of Washington Irving. Months ago I bought the volume that contains the Sketchbook and never popped the plastic on it, as if saving it for a special occasion. Halloween might be a good time to bring it out. My sister’s family had a miniature dachshund named Ichabod, probably inspired by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” though they likely didn’t read the tale. The definition of a classic. I read it at least once, and then my book perished in the house fire… I remember all the resentment and bad feeling between our families, and at some level it still exists. When I learned the basics of cognitive therapy I severed myself mentally from my family, widening the gulf between us and increasing our incomprehension. This is something that language can do. But if I wanted to return to their mother tongue, I suppose I could, though it would mean paranoia for me… and maybe for them too. Also it would restore a sort of telepathy among us, which is a little spooky to consider. It’s like a heavy morning fog clinging to Sleepy Hollow, oozy and archaic with obsolete words.