Although I like the holistic psychology of Jung, I believe that it never helped me with life problems such as alcoholism. What actually did help me was existential freedom and responsibility, attributable mostly to Sartre… I just had a dream that I drove my old green Nissan truck into a parking lot— where it was impounded for a hundred days by a middle aged woman with a wily sense of business. I accused her of being like a spider, luring people into her trap for money… Human beings would still have dreams even if no Carl Jung had ever come along. While he was a fatalist, Sartre was just the opposite, a libertarian. For the latter, individuals create their own essence. The thought of his philosophy gives me a hazy memory of being at the old Eugene Public Library in the spring of ‘87 with a friend. She was into woo woo paranormal phenomena and I was just a kid with an honest curiosity, though rather skeptical of her stuff. I needed proof before I could believe, like any empiricist. Yet I was a total fool for her, and she used me for something temporary and then disposed of me. She got away with it because she was beautiful. And now I see a connection to my dream of the impounded car lot, of being trapped by a black widow.
Everyone has a tragic flaw. It comes out in relationships with other people, and then you either forgive them or say goodbye. Either way is painful. And pain is the birth of compassion.
Quarter of midnight.
Gazing over the book titles on Amazon and reading reviews of The Bell by Iris Murdoch takes me back to a little trip I made to the university bookstore with a friend in June 1987. In the section of general books I found The Bell and also The Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle, which I bought because I wanted to understand more about the subject of love. It didn’t benefit me very much, however, for my friend dumped me a few weeks later, on the weekend of the Fourth of July. I was devastated by this rejection. Now I ponder if love is a thing anyone really understands in an intellectual way. Perhaps my approach was all wrong the whole time? And yet I can’t change the way I am, so I might as well accept myself as I am. Would this be a kind of love?
Why is there such a disparity between loving and knowing? The first one does, the other one thinks. It’s a sort of dualism, a reflexive situation: mental energy turned back upon itself, like narcissism; like gazing at one’s reflection in a pool or stream. You pursue the stream back to its wellspring, but in doing this you lose knowledge, because perception depends on opposition of subject and object. Two years after I was jilted by my girlfriend, I wrote a paper on “Alastor,” a poem by Percy Shelley, but my essay really said more about myself in its analysis of the water imagery, which was like Narcissus and his reflection… So what have I learned about love since then? It is in the chest and not in the head; something done and not cogitated. Love simply is.
It is rather odd how information gets processed in our minds, or maybe mine is idiosyncratic. You can’t assume anything about the influences on a work of music or literature. And maybe the information just isn’t available. An example is Moby Dick. I can’t prove that Melville ever read Schopenhauer prior to writing his novel, and yet the resemblance to the other’s philosophy is uncanny. Things like intuition and induction can’t be trusted to be accurate, which for me is a big disappointment and a painful revelation. The defeat is so dispiriting that I feel like giving up. Well, it’s time to go to the store. Is all knowledge useless? How do we know what we know?
Seven fifty. Suk, who owns the store, said it’s a very slow day today. Between six and seven o’clock, only one customer came. It’s a ghost town out there. But— through her front window I could see the nape of Kat’s neck where she sat on a couch watching tv. Her blond hair was done up in a ponytail very prettily. I imagined going up to her door and saying hello, but the hour was ungodly early. Besides, her husband was probably home: all of their vehicles were there. A few minutes ago I tried calling my sister, fruitlessly, so I’m guessing that her son is also home. All of these expendable guys, mostly ignorant… “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street… Look over there (where?) there goes a lady that I used to know / She’s married now or engaged or something so I’m told.” Whatever happened to Joe Jackson? It’ll be a long day. The last time I heard that song was probably on the Friday of the Fourth of July weekend in 2005. I got off work and stopped by Safeway for a half rack of Foster’s and Stouffer’s stuffed peppers. Then I got home and started my little party for one, putting on the music and imagining myself in junior high school again.
Nine o’clock. Only a month later, on one hung over Monday morning, I quit that job, and in another six months got rehired. It just seemed like such a hamster wheel with no reward that I cared about. We live in a very materialistic society, women and men alike, which makes it difficult for something like love to exist. And all I can do is make blog posts to bewail the situation. I’d give anything to see it all melt away, replaced by a new Renaissance where people dare to love and to know; where life is one big epic poem, and everybody is Tirso de Molina.
Wee hours before Tuesday.
I had a strange dream about presidential election, and it was related to my church. It isn’t clear who was the candidate for President, but it might have been myself. Whoever, I felt a very strong desire for something or someone, perhaps a woman I cared about. Yesterday evening I had another dream, about a crush I have on somebody I’ve known for a few years. It was a sweet little dream, so all hope is not dead. It contained a lot of water imagery, and it seemed she was teaching me to swim at some point. Toward the end, I ate black caviar on a tortilla chip with her… I often think, what would my life be like if I only had more balls, more masculine assertiveness than I do? It seems like sometimes you have to push the envelope of what’s acceptable in order to make any progress in your life, and move outside of your comfort zone, take some risks, and live dangerously until you win the prize. Even then, having a comfort zone can be a trap. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Not even fear of the devil should stand in the way of conquering happiness… Now I wonder what my parents were so afraid of, and why did they have to tyrannize over me the whole time they were alive? They had very little intelligence and hardly any generosity, hiding away with their television and cigarettes, doing no good to anybody. If they had looked at it from the worst case scenario they might have taken some heart, some courage to take the bull by the horns. They lived to be in their early seventies, but it’s more accurate to say they existed.
The root of all infirmity is fear.
Four thirty in the morning.
I wasn’t sleeping well. I got up and trimmed my beard with my electric razor to see my face again. Then I took my Vraylar for the night: just one of those things I have to do. At eight thirty I have to be ready to ride to see my hematologist. These visits are always pretty brief, but I guess they’re necessary. Better to err on the side of caution with hemochromatosis. When the store opens at six o’clock I’ll go do my daily shopping.
I didn’t like the news headlines this morning, so I trashed the email. There was one about platonic parenting that I thought was stupid and unromantic. It’s just another symptom of how people are going wrong with depersonalization and asexuality. We don’t love each other anymore, and in this way we’re going out not with a bang but a whimper. In this way we are the hollow people, yet we keep signing it into law and tacit rules, so that a real romance will be an unlawful scandal. Why are we doing this to ourselves? We’re committing suicide but we don’t believe it. If I am old fashioned, then so be it. Probably I’ll be arrested for saying so.
Quarter of nine.
Having a hard time collecting my thoughts. I took a nap after eating something and, in a fitful sleep, had erotic dreams and old forgotten feelings of women’s bodies mingled with my mother and alcohol use. Then I awoke with an ache in my right side and after a minute I pronounced to myself that I’d been through hell ever since I quit drinking: and I wanted to know why. The only real improvement for me is my financial situation, but the sociological aspect of my existence gets worse and worse. So, like Blake, I will not cease from mental fight until my writing brings about a desirable change: so that people actually love one another again in the fullest and most intimate sense of love. Maybe then we can leave behind all this crazy machinery and go on holiday. Our obsession with numbers and technology has spelled our doom from the start, crowding out nature in ourselves and in the outside world. This impulse to industry proves to be our undoing, while the greed for it still grows. We think the more gadgets, the better, but we’ve lost our respect for humanity and everything natural and noble in this life. And the faster we go, the faster we’ll all be gone.
Tyranny is when an inferior part of the soul dominates the rational part, and this is injustice according to Plato. But it’s more difficult than that, because the problem could be with reason itself. The intellect runs amok like a huge mechanical brain that doesn’t know when to stop producing. What would happen if we pulled the plug on this gigantic brain? Life would go on as before, but maybe with a bigger heart.
Very early this morning I read 12 pages of The Big Money and was rather unimpressed by the style of writing. It is like Faulkner, but not as good as that. The last good book I read was a Shakespeare romance called The Winter’s Tale. My thoughts are in a tangle right now, as I realize what I’ve lost in the friend I dismissed from my life. Was I being selfish with her somehow? Why did I feel so frustrated with our correspondence? She seemed not to understand a word I wrote in letter after letter to her. I could try writing her one more message but I don’t know what I would say. The worst part of it was how impersonal she was with me: no love interest whatsoever, so I was really looking in the wrong place. And now I’m sure that that’s why I wrote her off. The only feelings she had for me were dutiful, and duty is a rational thing, all in the head and never in the heart. I think this is a problem of religious living, because it’s impossible to love everybody universally except as an intellectual stunt. And obviously, rational love is cold and impersonal… I guess this is goodbye to my pen pal, but not to WordPress. Blogging goes on for me in some capacity. Everything suffers a sea-change at full fathom five; those are pearls that were your eyes; of your bones are coral made…
A fly in the market was bugging Heather, so on the spot she killed it with the swatter. She was stirring the gravy when I approached the register. I guess she was unfamiliar with the idea of ahimsa, practicing non injury to other beings. Christians and Hindus are much different from each other. I like Hinduism for its consistency with modern science; Brahman is very similar to Energy in Western physics. As I recall, ancient Hindus had the concept of the atom before the Greek Democritus. And the Hindu worldview shows how everything is interrelated by the cycle of rebirths… I didn’t observe much else on my trip this morning. The customer behind me bought a newspaper. The daily round is kind of like reading Ulysses day after day. To show relatedness is to love humankind. I’d hate to see a book like this forgotten, so I keep reminding people to check it out… I remember the feeling I got when I first read a selection from the Upanishads in the Knight Library up on Campus. It was like transcendence of the ordinary mundane to overcome separateness with other people and blend everything together in oneness. A beautiful experience, like being in a trance, but the trance can serve a purpose. It is really a form of enlightenment when you see the sameness of everything: so unlike Aristotle and the Western tradition… Aesop had his canned food breakfast just now. From here we can chill for a couple of hours, feel time dissolve in eternity.
Another gray morning, cool and temperate, and quiet in the house. July is off to a great start. I believe I’ve hired someone to be my PCA, with the help of Rebecca and Lenora. I hope that all works out okay in the coming weeks. It is still so early today, but I couldn’t sleep any longer. Very soon I’ll amble to the store to buy some food and a treat for Aesop. I’m glad we don’t have to wear a mask in public anymore. If I’m not mistaken, there’s no practice this weekend, so maybe I’ll go to church on Sunday instead.
Quarter of eight. Steve waved hello from his car as I approached Fremont, but otherwise I met nobody on my walk. I feel kind of logy because I’ve had no caffeine yet today. Just once I thought of my brother’s past cruelty to me. Then I eliminated it, saying I don’t have to worry about him anymore. At least that toxic tie has been dissolved for good… I don’t have much to write about just now. After I feed the dog I guess I’ll read a book.
Nine o’clock. I’m not sure how I feel about Ezra Pound, the modern American poet whose politics got him in trouble and who was considered crazy by his times. I think he was probably anti Semitic, like his peer Eliot, which is a scary reminder of the Holocaust and the general insanity of World War 2. Even to handle a book of his poetry is like touching a hot potato, perhaps radioactive from Hiroshima… So why do some people still read his stuff? My brain is a bit on the blink, dodgy and tired. The overcast prevails so far, but the forecast says sunshine this afternoon… If God is good, he is all inclusive, broad and roomy, although this sounds like a human value. But how can we know anything more than ourselves? Beyond human understanding there seems to be nothing. Therefore the harmony of the human community is of paramount importance. If we can’t get along together, our future is forfeit. We can still take a clue from the hippies and affirm that love is the only answer. Even Pound was right to say, “I love, therefore I am.” Amo, ergo sum.
The sun was already murderous when I dragged myself to the store this morning. The other thing I’m not happy about is the situation with hiring a PCA: I still don’t know what to do. I should just tell her the truth. Be assertive and spill my guts. There’s nothing wrong with the way I feel. What I really hate is not having control over my life. If you give others an inch, they take a mile and run you right into the ground. As long as I have the power to say yes or no, I will exercise this right. And yet I keep wimping out with the people in these organizations… Sometimes my antipsychotic doesn’t work as well as other times and I utter stuff that makes no sense. It used to be that alcohol was my medication, and it actually worked pretty well. Yesterday I wrote some gibberish to myself about the cities of the plain in Genesis: Sodom and Gomorrah. I think I was feeling paranoid about the heatwave in the Northwest. But no sane person would believe it was a divine curse on Oregon and Washington. I was just having a mental moment.
Nine thirty. The thought crosses my mind occasionally that I want to go home, but I’m not sure what this means. Perhaps it is to be reunited with my parents, having a few beers with my dad or strong brandies with my mom. Someday in the afterlife I may get my heart’s desire, but until then, earthly life is a kind of exile from heaven, even as Wordsworth describes in his Intimations Ode. Life is hard.