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!

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Unstoppable

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. 

Benedictions

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.

Swearing

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.

Noon.

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…

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.