Gloria has been here for an hour. She drove me to Bi Mart on River Road to get a few things. The weather is quite dull and cloudy, but probably I could be paying more attention to the little things around me rather than sweating big stuff.
It started snowing mixed with rain before my PCA left here. Then I let Aesop out of his room and gave him a treat of chicken flavor chews I bought just today. It’s nice to relax for the afternoon and maybe open a book in a bit. I sometimes think about reason and its limitations for human knowledge. We tend to take science for granted, this thing it took many centuries to organize and develop into an accurate system. What happens when logic is fallible? Is it like madness and chaos, or does it possess its own order and method, like pure instinct? When logic melts down, is there still a sun in the sky shining down on a field of yellow daffodils, and do you know one thing from another? Maybe you find yourself in a world of myth and twilight, like a filmstrip of Phaeton’s Ride or Orpheus and Eurydice. It’s difficult to express what I mean. Psychosis is not entire madness, but regression to the caveman’s perceptions: to something very ancient but sage in its own right. Underneath the layer of science still lives a wise old prophet, a Druid under the oaks, a builder of stone circles.
I went too long without eating anything, so the caffeine went right to my head and knocked out my logic. When Gloria left for the day, I had lunch immediately. It’s been stormy and sunny by turns today, like a temperamental old man in charge of the weather. Now I feel kind of tired and a little disappointed about the rest of my day. Maybe I’ll stroll over to the market again. Or pick a book to read and learn something new. I’m curious about skepticism, this whole thing of doubting the hard work of logicians and other organizers of knowledge. Did the skeptics have an agenda? What was the conclusion of their arguments?
Quarter of eleven.
The aim of skepticism, from my understanding of Sextus Empiricus, was liberation from mental disturbance as a result of suspending judgment of the truth of anything. Thus, skepticism is more like a religious practice than a philosophical endeavor to discover truth. In its original form, Epicureanism was rather similar: the goal was to minimize pain by eliminating fear of death and the gods. Also by keeping life simple. As one translator put it, Hellenistic philosophy was a discipline of the heart instead of the head.
But I still need to learn how Montaigne might have distorted skepticism to a despair of the facts and a regression to primitive faith.
In my opinion, life without the light of reason is not worth living. My motive for saying this is my personal experience with madness, which is like mental blindness. Do we really want to stumble through life blindfolded?
Nine thirty at night.
This afternoon I read more poems by Whitman. It strikes me that his style is like a naturalist writing free verse: a lot of sex and biology in his stuff, like a forerunner to Freud. Whitman isn’t constrained by a Christian conscience, or rather it is religion that he reacts against, driving him to posit his own personal bible, Leaves of Grass. In a way, he’s made himself an institution or a religion all his own… When I was 23 years old I first read part of the same book, and it influenced me to study biology and Indian religions at school, though I was oblivious to the fact. There’s a great deal of Hinduism in Whitman, as also in Emerson. From the start of my education to the end, my focus totally shifted from West to East. I’m not sure why this happened but it wasn’t bad. One can say that Jung’s ideas were rather Eastern and mystical. This shift for me was like a break for liberty, a desperate flight for freedom before the inevitable crash to the real world. I’ve heard the opinion that some people don’t want to grow up and be responsible. These are the ones we call the mentally ill; but there is method in madness, a kind of prophecy in the problem. We are ourselves the symptoms of a society gone too far towards the quantitative and economic. How nice if we could regress and tell each other stories to the rhythm of the night! My kingdom for one sweet dream, sleeping like a princess…
It’ll be good when we’ve distanced ourselves a little more from the Millennium and regained our sanity. The 00 decade was very uncomfortable for me, when people tortured each other over their religious ideas at all levels of society and across cultures. Was it all because of a prediction by Nostradamus that 1999 would see the advent of the Antichrist? I remember seeing editions of his books on display in bookshops and even in grocery stores up until the year my mother died, 2001. His prophecies were just the wormwood people needed for crazy stuff to start happening. But the fault was not that of Nostradamus, but of consumerist culture and whoever controls this and the media. I’m still not a fan of sociology, the study of society. There’s always more going on than meets the eye, and what we see is a puppet show. This is not the behavior of people in groups, but rather manipulation by our leaders, though it sounds fanatical to say it. Who was it that ordained the distribution of copies of Nostradamus everywhere for a span of ten years? Was it the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx?
Quarter after seven. The rain started as just a whisper and now it’s coming down in earnest. It’s a soothing sound like a lullaby. Because it’s still dark out, I’ll wait to go to the store. I want to have some visibility on the road, in both directions… The last book I bought of Nostradamus was at the Safeway store on River Road with my mother. I remember the flower bouquets they sold there, vaguely. Mom usually wore a little kerchief on her head when she went out, called a “doobie.” This store closed in September of 2007 for reasons of productivity. I especially recall Tiffany, a young checker with blonde curls who was always pleasant. But with the coming of dawn these memories fade like dreams. And the rain washes them down the gutters.
I hate politics. Biden’s vaccine mandates force me to be political, however. I didn’t know how to respond when our church musician said he had no tolerance for the unvaccinated, but now I can say that he was too extreme. For more than one reason, I want to boycott the church, and Biden’s action makes this decision even stronger for me… Last night I took my medication, and a few hours later felt worse than I’ve ever felt in my life… I don’t know. I don’t care what I say anymore. Life really sucks for everyone right now, so I guess anything goes. I feel like throwing off all my clothes and running screaming through the streets until I get arrested; but chances are that nothing would happen to me… I just trashed the daily church email without opening it. Aesop is whining for his breakfast. At least dogs are apolitical and innocent. I wish people had as much sense as my dog.
Wee hours of Monday.
I made the mistake of taking my cholesterol medication tonight, so now I’m paying for it in insomnia. I guess I might as well read a book for a while… With Pastor, my first reaction to his sermon yesterday was to rebel and disagree. But later I tried to harmonize with his point of view. And now I don’t know what to think about it. The truth is that I don’t like when people talk about the devil as if he really existed. It sounds quite cuckoo of some Christians, and indeed they may be psychotic, out of touch with reality. Probably for my own good I should avoid the church as I’ve been doing. That sermon yesterday was like a horror movie… I have been made well by taking my antipsychotic, but it sounds like some people are on the downswing, through no fault of my own. In the old days, they used to chain schizophrenic people up in a dungeon. Today, a lot of us still end up in a hospital… It doesn’t help the situation when religious leaders lose their marbles and spout crap about the devil. I’m so tired of all the insanity I run into every day, and the church only fuels the fire.
Eleven thirty at night.
It is still 82 degrees in the house after a 100 degree day. The cloudless sky was white with the heat and heaven was a long ways away, unless the kingdom of God is within us, held within inner space and created through human thought. Keats wanted to know if poetry has the power to unite people with a better world, an otherworld of spirit, like the Platonic ideal. If we’ll ever know, the time may be getting close for revelation. So far we’ve seen no sign of the coming of Jerusalem, while the sun from a clear sky bakes everybody to a raisin. Were we dumb to believe in Kingdom Come? For the first two years of my recovery I went to church every Sunday morning, believing to be safe. Over time, the antipsychotic grew more effective and the angels fell from heaven like meteors. Perhaps I was a fool. My knowledge of modern science returned: the earth is now just a ball floating in space, orbiting the sun for a complete circuit every year. No heaven and no hell. I was freed from a silly illusion spread by the Church.
The veterinarian returned my call this evening regarding my dog’s moods: to my dismay she suggested putting him on doggie Prozac and calling the Humane Society for advice. Can she be serious? A dog on Prozac? I absolutely refuse to agree to such a thing. Aesop would be bouncing off the walls and just a mixed up mess. Prozac is a terrible drug for people, let alone for a poor dog. Again I have to take the law into my own hands and reply a stentorian negative. Doggie psychiatry is a complete bullshit.
Well I gave my French book of Mallarme a cursory flap and found much of it unreadable, like pure nonsense, the drivel of a lunatic: psychobabble in a word. This discovery is a sign that I’m recovering from the illness more and more with time. I ought to be much more coherent now than last winter, not to mention years ago as a churchgoer. I may wish there were an Ideal dimension to the universe, but unveiling it is beyond all method… It is emotional reasoning to posit the spiritual universe; saying I feel it, therefore it must be true, but after this comes the burden of proof. It’s a difficult call to make. Is it right to categorically reject everything arrived at by intuition? And here I’ve opened up the same old can of worms as last winter. If my intuition is blind, it doesn’t make everyone else blind. I remember gifting Pastor that volume of William Blake six months ago, thinking of a particular passage in the Europe prophecy. Isaac Newton blows the last trumpet of doom, after which the angels fall from heaven and crash to the earth. In other words, scientific discovery knocks religion down. It is neither a good or bad situation; it simply is. Or maybe Blake thinks the blow to religion is regrettable… By the way, Blake is another one of those unintelligible poets, like James Joyce toward the end. Word salad. Psychosis… I don’t even know by what means I’ve been thinking since the end of springtime. Things either make sense to me or they don’t. Spirituality still is very hard for me to swallow.
Quarter after nine. However, there’s an image Mallarme uses more than once in his published poetry: something like a “snowfall of perfumed stars.” It makes me want to translate the poem myself to English. And perhaps in doing so, thereby lose my identity in his, or leave the poem extant without an author. Only the words and the reader remain, in a condition of dubious being.
Currently it’s 78 degrees inside the house, and it has affected the way I think somewhat, actually in a beneficial way. I don’t feel quite as depressed as I did yesterday. While I was writing in my blank book rather prolifically my mood did an about face from melancholy to much more optimistic. Certain possibilities I hadn’t considered before made themselves known to me. Usually my self concept is pretty low and crummy, never giving myself the benefit of the doubt. I’m just a lousy schizophrenic person that nobody loves. But how do I know this to be true? I could be more appreciated than I realize, and I think being sober should be a big plus in my favor.
I also did some thinking on the nature of my psychosis, particularly the initial episode 30 years ago. Somehow I compared it to the adventures of Don Quixote, which show an ambition to be free and independent in a rather radical way. Wasn’t Cervantes in prison when he wrote most of the novel? Yet his imagination was unbound… Anyway, another fact of my case is that my brain has no structural abnormalities, such as enlarged ventricles. Anatomically it’s a normal study, and just my brain chemistry has been wrong. I don’t know what causes that. Oh— and to answer your question a while ago, yes, the predisposition for schizophrenia can be hereditary, but the onset of the illness depends on environmental stressors. It is one theory, anyway, and called the diathesis stress model… But the idea that was kind of blowing my mind came from the Sartre book I received the other week. Considering this plus the story of Don Quixote, I asked myself, What if madness is simply a desperate attempt to be free?
In this situation, what appears to be sheer lunacy may really be methodical and sane, just on a different level of consciousness, or of interpretation.
Noon hour. My bass came UPS a little before eleven o’clock and then I opened it up and played it for 45 minutes or so. It has a three way selector switch for different pickup modes. It sounds the best in series, I think. And the bucking pickup happens to be very loud and boomy. They put wimpy strings on the bass, but I change them anyway. Overall it sounds pretty cool! I like the finish color: Irish Ale, just a clear dark red over swamp ash.
It’s still perfect weather, sunny and not too warm. I already had my lunch, and I’m still hungry. This day with this weather reminds me of something I can’t put my finger on. Somehow it’s like the 1990’s again, and I feel quite content this way. Of course I miss my parents and my old friends, but it’s enough to think of them. Finally it looks like life is settling down and it’s safer for people to go out and socialize. We’re in much better hands than we were for the last four years. I feel like a Pepsi or something. I could go get a liter of soda for the joy of it.
Four o’clock. So I went out and got a Pepsi and saw Michelle, Cathy, and on the way back, Karen. This last made me an appointment for a haircut on Monday morning. When I got home I had about half of my Pepsi two liter and then played my Kiloton bass again: it definitely sounds awesome in series mode. I noodled around and picked out the Hungarian Rhapsody, plus a song by Chick Corea from Light Years. This bass is the best one I’ve got now, so it’ll be my main axe for a while.
The color of the sunshine in the late afternoon seems rather mellow, and more summery than springlike. It’s 75 degrees out. It just doesn’t feel like April to me. But I didn’t use to be sober years ago during the spring, so I have no point of reference for comparison. Beginning at three o’clock, I would start drinking like a fish and put on The Beatles; have a big bacchanalian party for one person and his dog. It was really no way to live because I didn’t know what was going on in the world, or I was numb to what was happening. My mind was ruled by crazy rationales and paranoia, even delusions of telepathy or thought broadcasting. I was miserable and out of touch with reality. But today, it feels so much better to be free from more than one kind of oppression and injustice in my life. I am my own ship’s master and commander, steering myself toward what’s right for me.