Reason

Eight o five.

The heat and humidity are murder on us today. Been to the store already. Vicki was very nice.

What is this invisible entity called “culture?” The question makes me want to look at my sociology book again. Or maybe it’s a bogus science. I think I’m a nominalist. It’s not as though a group of people had a collective brain, an overarching soul. How would you prove such a hypothesis? I feel more comfortable with the idea of individual things, not so much with categories and classes. The things came first, and the categorization afterwards. Both Plato and Aristotle had this inverted. It took Sartre to come along and sort it out: “existence precedes essence.” I think sociology is premised on a fallacy, so I needn’t worry about it anymore.

I miss being a junior in college, which was 1989 for me. I also wish that I’d completed my minor in philosophy. Only one more class would’ve done it. But I was losing my faith in logic as a method. I thought that premises and conclusions could be manipulated, and were often faulty. The best way to prove anything was to look and see. It also happened that I was falling mentally ill and couldn’t think very well. As it is, I learned a great deal about how to think (as opposed to what). This virtue has saved me a couple of times from illegitimate reasoning by other people.

In the end, I believe that reason will triumph over madness and lead us to a better day.

Don’t Be a Lemming

Five o’clock. I miss having church worship the normal way. Some black clouds passed over and it hailed on us. Aesop went out in it, against my advice. He took it like a trooper. Last night, I dreamt a lot about things that happened in fall 2017, particularly Valerie, my case manager at Options. She came to the house a few times to motivate me to clean up. But eventually it became a waste of her time and she stopped it. My life was really going nowhere that year, but I didn’t drink. As always happens, I met some people I really liked, and others that I didn’t… There’s a rainbow behind Diana’s house, in the east. That’s where I see them every time. Now gone… People are strange. The way affiliations are formed is a matter of trust, especially when the issue is sobriety. I don’t think about AA much anymore. Their way is not the only way, as I’ve proven.

Six thirty. Some things about my behavior just aren’t going to improve. Ever. The model citizen conforms to the norm and does everything he’s supposed to. I don’t, and I’m not a poster boy for anybody. Carmen the therapist wouldn’t say what she meant by my being a control person. Maybe she didn’t know what she was talking about. The issue of control is a buzzword among psychologists today, and for Carmen it was only an echo of what she’d been told. I believe that what’s wrong with me is precisely that I do think critically about everything. It would be against my nature not to do so. If I analyze a proposition and 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4, then I won’t go along with it. I don’t just go with what people are saying on this or that topic. The movies can claim anything they want, but the truth is up to you and me. Another therapist said I was very logical… I’m only saying that it benefits you not to follow the leader over a cliff. Don’t be a pilot whale or a lemming.

Darlene

Eight o’clock.

More sunshine this morning. I still haven’t run my errand to my old junior high school. It can wait. Forty years ago is a long time. Everything will have changed. The only real time machine I know of is alcohol. With sobriety, time moves forward exclusively. I feel kind of tired. I want to be filled with something, probably beer. I think of all my books with a sense of futility. There’s no way I’m going to read them all. Aesop needs wet food, and I want a Coke.

Nine thirty. Karen flagged me down to say that Darlene passed away last night. The funeral is Tuesday, and we are going to it together. I only have to show up at the salon Tuesday at ten o’clock, then we’ll hit the road to Springfield. After the service, Karen and I will have lunch someplace… She thought it was merciful that Darlene won’t have to suffer through another six months. It’s true that her quality of life would have been not so good. I don’t know what else to say about it.

I ran into Melissa at the market. She now works as a personal caregiver, a much better job than making sandwiches at the deli. She told me she has a two year old boy. Life goes on. I felt rather bad earlier this morning for being a logical person, not someone emotionally driven. I’ve been a Vulcan for as long as I can remember. I joked to Cathy in the store that I had calculated the total of my purchases in advance to equal 15 dollars even. Maybe that’s why therapists don’t like me very much. If I resort to astrology, the fact of my rationalism makes sense, for I am a Capricorn. The house directly across from Capricorn is Cancer, and these two signs implicitly understand each other. Heidi is a Cancerian. So was my mother.

Eleven o’clock. It’s a beautiful day, and the birds are singing in response to the sunshine. Nature isn’t aware that Darlene passed away, or if so, it rejoices that she’s in a better place now. For me, it’s kind of a relief knowing that her struggle is over. The sunny day is a reassuring sign that all is well in spite of everything. Life goes on.

Being of Two Minds

Four thirty.

I guess they know not what they do. People are so passive with their beliefs, not stopping to think about them logically. Perhaps I am too logical myself? My sleep tonight was tortured by the thought that I’m not an emotional person. I feel I could be missing something important. But at the same time, the world needs logical people. We are a minority. What would they do without us? …The taste of Coca Cola is a creature comfort to me. That’s the only reason I drink it. I used to love Dr Pepper as well, until one time it made me breathless. Memories from my first recovery keep surfacing to mind. Just now I remember a recent dream. I went to see my old psychologist Bill. On a wall of his office he had tacked some permanent words, directed at me. He had kept them there all these years. I looked at his lessons on the wall and considered. I wasn’t really persuaded. As I was about to leave, he took a look in my mouth, examining my teeth. He told me that they were full of cracks. Eventually I would lose them all. On Friday night, I had a dream about my psychiatrist, who could cure the schizophrenia by means of psychoanalysis. Or anyway, I had faith that he could. Dr T—- himself had doubts. I wonder now about the timing of these dreams. Something significant in my life is about to happen. Maybe the answer is not in logic, but rather in observation? Or is there a third possibility? Imagination, even as Edgar Allan Poe prescribed…

Six o’clock. Revisiting Poe brought up my mentality of two decades ago, which was intuition. My thoughts on the subject are a bit of a muddle right now, but with the application of reason, I ought to be able to sort it out. Even in my sleep, my poor brain is trying to figure things out. Have I missed out on an emotional life? How great is CBT really? Do thoughts precede feelings —- or the other way around? Why does it matter to me? Because being of two minds entails that one approach is chosen over the other, and the one not taken is a regret.

A Dream for You

Eleven thirty. What happens in a world where every individual thinks for himself? If the dialectic is calm and rational, it’s something like the Athens of Plato’s day. It’s the tradition of the Academy. Ideas are brainstormed and batted around in a healthy way, and the fruit is the progress of human reason. The method is not blind faith but rather the light of our God given logic, freely distributed among us all. I disagree with elitism and the notion that nature is aristocratic. With a little help, I should hope that everyone can use his head. Make college tuition free for all who want to go. Make library membership free. Ensure that wise words are available to young and old, rich and poor, women and men. Launch a nonprofit publisher that disseminates classics at no cost. If the Gideons can do it, so can academics. Spread the word about Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive. If most music is free, then steer people to the free books. Let them all download the best thinking and writing from the expanse of history. Do whatever we can to promote independent thought, free and original, and debate about it like the peripatetic Academics of the ancient world. This would be a dream come true.

http://www.gutenberg.org

My Tradition

Every night I’ve been dreaming about my death— and it’s a finality, not the beginning of an afterlife. Worse: my mind connects my death with the Apocalypse, the end of the world. Which makes sense because for me it really is the end of time. What my delusion forgets is that I am part of a whole generation likely to pass away around the same time. Delusions of reference are always egocentric, the way a toddler thinks; if it’s happening to me, it’s happening everywhere. My poor brain amplifies my personal death to a worldwide cataclysm. Some psychologists would condemn this thinking as narcissism. I disagree; the delusions of schizophrenia are the symptoms of a brain disease and not a moral disorder. I keep saying this, but nobody gets it. People generally love to get on a soapbox and judge and condemn everyone but themselves. It has always been bad logic to do so. The tradition I come from is not psychology but the much older one of philosophy. I believe that all phenomena are ultimately reducible to reason, and that logic is an essence that pervades all existence. It comes down to consistencies and contradictions: coherence and incoherence. Even religion submits to philosophy to some extent. I value reason probably because my sanity is subject to pitfalls. You don’t treasure anything until you are deprived of it, and that makes logic priceless to a schizophrenic like me. The meaning of life depends on what you lack. For my current wits I am grateful to modern medicine, specifically the antipsychotic Vraylar.