The Bedrock

Eight fifty.

Polly went so far as to intimate that our brother had unnecessary surgeries done in order to get the pain medications. I just don’t want to know what she thinks anymore. It doesn’t sound likely to me that Jeff would do such a thing. The accusation is so egregious that I don’t believe it… I guess I’m just sick of hearing from her, and the conversation about Jeff pushed me over the edge. That’s the real situation. The fact is that I really love my brother, no matter what he does. Maybe love is blind and unreasoning. He joked to me that he could’ve invented the “reverse nuclear bomb” with his intellect, but he valued getting high more than his brains, or helping humanity. He didn’t love himself and he chose self destruction. My opinion is that he lives with a terrible burden of guilt feelings regarding his first wife. There’s nothing I can do to help, because I’m just a pariah on the fringe of the family anyway. No one gives a damn what I have to say. I’m just “crazy.”

Quarter of ten.

The bedrock for it all is love, and love simply loves what it loves. My mother and my brother were always my favorite relatives even though they didn’t like each other. An old song, “Requiem for the Masses,” comes to mind:

Black and white were the pictures that recorded him

Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in

Black and white was the question that so bothered him

He never asked, he was taught not to ask

But was on his lips as they buried him

Man without Love

Nine o’clock. I tricked Aesop into going outside before Gloria arrives so she can clean the room he usually stays in. I feel a little upset and agitated over something… I guess I feel tired of everything, and I could really use a good friend with ideas like mine. It’s so hard to make a friend and keep her or him. Admit no impediments to the marriage of true minds. I feel like a throwback to very old times, maybe more romantic ones. I think I’ll establish my own peripatetic Academy, a place for people to live the life of the mind. Sometimes I relate to Fahrenheit 451, seeing the threat to artists and intellectuals nowadays, being swallowed up by a consumerist society… It’s easy to complain, harder to find a solution. It feels as if everything was dying on the vine. And to top it off, it’s a cloudy day!

Noon.

It was a hectic morning, kind of. I still feel pretty exhausted, and Aesop has been through the wringer. I won’t go to church in the morning; I need a day to rest. I notice how I’m growing older and slower, and feeling every ache and pain all the time. It’s okay to make allowances for my age and to know my limitations. You might as well be realistic. Some days I feel downright crabby. But if a day is going badly, it’s all right to admit it to yourself. When life is this imperfect, it’s harder to imagine paradise on either side of the threshold. Though I want to say it’s a beautiful day, it’s really gray and overcast, lifeless and not pretty. There may be an underlying cause for my bad mood today, some thought I conceal from myself. What would a perfect life look like? A time and place where I’m not in debt to anyone, maybe, and where it’s possible to find someone to love.

A Cold Heart

Quarter after ten at night.

I kept having dream thoughts about the Tarzan series, particularly whether the short stories fit into the first or second book, but of course they belong with the first one. I can’t settle on what books to read. A student told me once that there are no new ideas, only new ways of expressing them. His focus was the form more than the content, while mine was mostly the reverse of that. For this reason I was better cut out for philosophy than literature.

I was curious to sample the writings of Eiseley yesterday, but I think as a scientist he’s not so good. I don’t know. Is the best science atheistic, excluding religious ideas, or is some overlap okay? I know my brother’s opinion on this. His universe is deterministic with no Deus ex machina. He’s a purist that way. Maybe I have no business talking about him. In his mind, we are no longer brothers. He denies our relatedness, so why should I care about him anymore? It just seems very cold and hardhearted of him. Maybe I’m the bigger man for respecting him?

Well what the heck, it’s only family, and what does my brother know?

What the World Needs Now

Eleven twenty at night.

I don’t like to consider the money aspect of things like some guys do. Indeed, the cynicism about the oligarchy etc is very trendy today. We are not what we are by virtue of our bank accounts or our sources of income. It’s a fallacy to say money makes the world go round when what really does it is love. Somebody in a high place set a bad example for everyone by replacing the ❤️ with the💲. Every situation is slow to change, particularly public opinion, but I thought I’d help it along as I can. Try dusting off the old Beatles collection and play “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” John Lennon said, paraphrased, “You in the cheap seats clap your hands, and you in the balcony just rattle your jewelry…” Maybe that’s a bit cynical too, though his intentions were good. There’s an episode in Ulysses that refers to the “foot and mouth disease,” which infects most people from time to time. More important is the recurring theme of “metempsychosis” that brings everybody together, regardless even of race or ethnicity.

“He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.”

While it sounds like nonsense, Joyce pulls off something like this with his book. The question is whether we really treat each other like family.

Families

Seven thirty.

Nothing really eventful is going on right now. Aesop gets breakfast at eight o’clock. For his optimism, I bought a new edition of Shelley’s poetry and prose, arriving Tuesday. He believed in the perfectibility of human nature, a contrast to his friend Lord Byron. It’s easy to be a hopeless pessimist with current events as they are. It takes love to see a better way of handling things… There’s a mourning dove hooting very close by. As I walked to market, my ears were filled with birdsongs all around. A squirrel scrambled up a tree on Steve’s property, and I was thinking, “Do you see the same things every day?” So I tried for something new and different. What I found was that nobody really hates me, unless it’s my brother, who can hold a grudge as long as he lives. The oddity is that I never trespassed against him directly, so how am I guilty? Only family dynamics can treat you shabbily, while the bigger family of humanity has an open heart. This is the truth I take home from my experience of the past five years. It may feel shameful to break with family, but if it messes with you, then dispensing with it is okay. In time, they might come to respect your independence, though perhaps never accept you as one of them. This can be to your benefit, particularly if you need to fix a bad habit. Your life is more important than their approval.

C.R.S.

Seven fifty five.

Later today it’s supposed to clear up and be sunny. If I looked into the little book by Wittgenstein it would either baffle me or maybe support what I’d already known about the structure of reality. Logic may be a great thing, but it doesn’t compass love… I wore my old blue parka out to the store this morning, the one that survived the fire and was preserved by the packers afterwards. I don’t remember the last time I put it on before today, but it’s a souvenir of schooldays long ago. Whatever else has changed, one or two things remain the same as I recall them. Or perhaps stasis is an illusion— but everybody is saying that these days. They say that memories of the past are a very bad thing, and so on ad nauseam. But I think this is because people generally can’t remember shit.

Long ago it must be

I have a photograph

Preserve your memories

They’re all that’s left you 

Get Together

Seven ten.

I walked to the store in a mixture of rain and snow, unseasonable for April, at the first light of dawn. The main thing on my mind was how I felt cut off from the church and maybe from the rest of society. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which made me think of Easter next weekend. I’d also been considering Thomas Mann and perhaps finishing The Magic Mountain. If I had the money to tithe to church, then I’d feel more comfortable about attending, but as inflation has it, I just can’t swing it right now. Well phooey, it’s probably money pounded down a rathole anyway, but still I get awfully lonely for friends. I can’t read a Shakespeare play without relating to the outcast character, the one who is often illegitimate and an egoist; someone exiled from the cosmic dance and order of things. I looked out the window and it’s snowing and raining at the same time. I’m dreaming of a white Easter. My friend in Texas reports temperatures in the nineties with gales of wind. Even the weather is all mixed up and fragmented from place to place. This calls attention to the need for unity and mutual understanding, but of course there’s always a remainder to the quotient. Some pieces just refuse to fit together. 

Across…

The sun has been trying to peek through a few times today, and the clouds have thinned out to show some blue sky. My mind feels very clear, no longer like someone who is brainwashed and bound in the chains of some doctrine, although I shouldn’t be cocky or complacent about it. That’s like Odysseus crowing at Polyphemus, but finding out later that Poseidon was his father and then paying the penalty all the way back home. All of literature has lessons for us, the Bible included, and also philosophy and so on and on. The purpose of it all is essentially to teach and to preach. 

Funny but my mother loved music yet she disregarded the lyrics unless it was something like “Penny Lane” by The Beatles, whose words made a simple vignette with no heavy moral overtones. And really I don’t blame her for that. She also esteemed Edgar Allan Poe a genius for similar reasons as The Beatles. Suddenly I remember a bit what eighth grade was like. It was the school year when John Lennon was killed. Shortly after this, Mom bought me the red and blue Beatles compilations at Fred Meyer. The one I listened to more was the red, which covered the years 1962 to 66. But gradually I got to like the later stuff better, especially when I reached college and heard “Across the Universe” again. It made me gush hot tears; caught me totally off guard. My parents had gone to bed and I listened by myself after midnight. The thing about it is not just the music but the awesome lyric, like a work of poetry, all put together for devastating effect.

Victorian No More

Ten o five at night.

The sun appears brighter now that I’ve separated from the church, as if no longer through a filter of piety. As long as I maintain my recovery I want to continue on this adventure, a game of seven card stud in the words of Tennessee Williams. It’ll be my last frontier, the search for a love interest in my life, because I know that love won’t come looking for me. Some people just aren’t interested in romantic love at all, maybe because it’s safer not to get involved. But to me a loveless existence is flat and two dimensional; and even a huge literary figure like Goethe bids you come away from the books in your moldy old study and go out into the world of experience to find your Gretchen and beyond to Helen of Troy. My sister will probably say I’ve lost my mind. Let her think so. A pious life of chastity is not for everyone, however self righteous you feel about it. And no one has the right to lord it over others. For me, the new Victorian Age has come to an end. 

Quiet

Nine thirty.

I slept very poorly and today it’s raining a light rain. I took my umbrella and hiked off to the store as always. For now the rain has ceased. I never did get any reading done yesterday but Russell still sounds like a good choice. It’s good to feel so levelheaded, even on a rainy day, so typical of Oregon. I see a squirrel climbing the magnolia tree out back. Ten years ago I knew a friend living in Scotland who liked analytic philosophy because of its proximity to science. I believe she was smarter than I was, though toward the end of our friendship she told me she preferred silence to conversation. Was that a form of nihilism? I wish now that we could have worked it out. In King Lear, the Fool says it’s better to know more than you show; but I think he was ironic about that. After knowing me, my friend went back to being her old self, and today I have no clue what her life is like. Hopefully she took something of myself with her that she can use. And from her I got Russell and Carnap— and some great Beatles music; and much else that is even more priceless.

The daylight is bright like springtime in spite of the occasional rain. It’s a day to be quiet and speculative.