Ten o five.
Gloria is here cleaning the bathroom. Outside the sun is shining: a beautiful day. Bloggers seem to be converting their sites to places for selling stuff, so I feel like the only person still doing human interest posts on WordPress. Also, people don’t want to read stuff anymore. Eventually I’ll quit doing this because there’s no reward in it. But I’m disappointed to find that people are so greedy and materialistic, valuing things more than ideas and what makes us uniquely human. I’ve known for some time that philosophy is going out of style, but this is sad. There’s something wrong when people don’t care about life— the examined life that is worth living, preferring things to be cut and dried and readymade so we never have to think about them again. And again I consider the image of the new high school on Silver Lane: ominous dark brick façades that suggest a prison more than a teaching facility. This might actually be the fact.
I had a good day. The inside of my home is looking nicer and nicer the more Gloria works on it. A few minutes ago I ordered myself a beanbag chair because I wanted one. The neighbor kids had them when I was young, but my mother refused to buy me one of my own here at home. Gloria and I have dumped a lot of Mom’s clothes and stuff off at the thrift store on Division Avenue, thereby kind of exorcising her ghost from the house. I don’t really believe in ghosts or anything spiritual, and it’s very painful to entertain such beliefs after a loved one dies. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding the whole phenomenon of death and dying, because what happens over that threshold will always be a mystery. I sought to avoid the problem by drinking myself blind drunk for many years. Grieving is not for wimps; it takes a great deal of courage to face the problem head on and say with finality what you believe. The fact is that we cremate our dead, and we say the body feels nothing when it’s being burned. We also know that there’s an identity of consciousness with brain function. The conclusion from all this is that ghosts don’t exist. Therefore, Lucretius must have been right to advise us not to fear death.
Quarter of one.
I have nothing to report today except to say that my poor brain is all screwed up, or so it seems to me. Tomorrow I’ll start a new antidepressant to complement the Vraylar, so hopefully I’ll feel better after that. I did an all-nighter with a big Coca-Cola last night and it actually felt pretty good to me. I think I’ve been struggling with depression for a few months, and when you can’t fix the problem through the interior, you must resort to biology for the remedy. And who would be dumb enough to deny biology any validity; although I’ve heard some people say they reject evolution, especially where it affects human beings. This is such a Victorian attitude; I remember a poem Tennyson wrote about being descended from the brutes. He couldn’t accept this idea from Darwin. But Maryann Evans was a Darwinist in her fiction including Middlemarch (another book I should get around to reading)… The proof of materialism is that you take the psychotropic medication and your mental state changes. This also happens with alcohol and anything else you put in your body. As for indeterminism and the idea of freedom, the proof of these things is an uphill battle, and ultimately a crazy making endeavor. I think I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll just embrace the world of sanity and limits; of cause and effect.
I’m of half a mind to cancel my trip to the agency this morning. The more I think about it, the more it becomes a certainty… The dispatch office doesn’t open until eight o’clock… My walk to the market was uneventful, but I observed that Michelle was in a pretty good mood today. Very early this morning I ordered The Essential Plotinus, then went back to bed and dreamed about discussing it with Pastor and a few people from church. Supposedly Plotinus is the bridge between Plato and modern Christianity. I won’t know for sure until I read it myself, but the prospect sounds fascinating. Pastor has said that my thinking is similar to the Greeks, though I don’t know how much stock to put in that assessment… It’s going to be another day of cooler temperatures, continuing for the next week.
Eight forty. I guess I’m kind of torn on the existence of the Ideal. Is it really the truth that a trapdoor in the heavens could spring open and a red dragon come flying out, and so on? Is Christianity a “revealed” religion or did people just make it up? And is the imagination intuitive or rather merely creative? If I knew the answers then I wouldn’t be asking these questions. I can tell you what I wish was true, but I think the simplest explanations are the most accurate: and materialism is very simple. The origin of every art form is mimetic; it imitates nature and natural things. Cavemen made paintings of hunting wild beasts on the walls. The first musicians whacked a hollow tree trunk with a stick to emulate thunder. And then, language acquires abstractness with use over time, but the underpinnings are still the literal stuff. The very word “matter” is related to the Latin for “mother.” Everything depends on it, like the world on the red wheelbarrow.
Three forty in the morning.
I have insomnia tonight from the Snapple teas I drank. But they also gave me the motivation to do some housework. The new reading glasses arrived in yesterday’s mail. I suppose they’re functional enough. Meanwhile the old ones broke. Blogging is not very rewarding right now in terms of getting likes from followers, but it doesn’t mean they’re not reading every post. Obtaining likes can become an addiction for some people. So, I will just keep posting stuff for my own benefit…
It sucks to be up in the middle of the night, when no one else is awake and it’s dark outside. I know a few people who operate on the assumption that “money makes the world go round.” Their worldview is strictly materialistic, and they see nothing wrong with this. The only power they know of is the dollar sign. Something called to my mind the spiritualism of 19th Century novelists like Dostoevsky, and their mental battle against materialism rising in their culture. How important is it for people to acknowledge some kind of spiritual life? How blind are the ones who don’t? “Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.” Sometimes the wonder goes completely out of my life, and then I know there’s trouble. Karamazov is a brilliant book, so I think I’ll go back and revisit the opening sections. Or, I can keep struggling with Victor Hugo… Another thought is that the university I went to was really geared towards materialism, with some exceptions. This was the indoctrination I received. But you can always get another indoctrination.
Four twenty five. I continue to be more aware of Aesop’s discomfort. I suppose I’m more empathetic than I used to be. We need to fix the problem of his boredom and inactivity… The food pantry is a go tomorrow morning. Speaking of feeding the community, this morning I remembered a cruel thing my brother bragged about doing to a panhandler some years ago. The panhandler had a dog, so Jeff went inside the store and bought dog food for the dog and nothing for the man to eat. At McDonalds another time, Jeff threw a cheeseburger to a beggar’s dog. My brother is an unkind bastard. I hope someday he pays for his cruelty to me and everyone else he has mistreated. Actually, that might be happening as it is. His rheumatoid arthritis is extremely painful. He has boozed himself into neuropathy and amnesia. Looking over the span of his life, his fate has been rather an instructive one. As a young student he was a nice guy; but he became corrupted by the career he chose. It was all for the almighty dollar. I suppose most families have someone like my brother. Ambitious and driven to make a pile of money. Well, his devotion to Mammon has consumed his soul. There’s nothing left of the nice young student. I would pity him if I could, but in his case, I’m fresh out of pity.
Two thirty. Kate was very smart. I miss chatting with her. She had a lot of common sense, and an instinct for the ordinary. She really liked the Carlos Williams poetry I introduced her to. She was not a Romantic at all, but rather was drawn to analytic philosophy, including Russell and the Vienna Circle. Once I understood where she was coming from, we could talk about Carnap and so on for hours and days, even years. She came along at an opportune time in my life… Funny. Only a few years ago, I had a delusional fear of Edgar Poe’s poetry. I believed it was satanic. Of course I don’t believe in the devil now. The medication took care of that. Before this med, there was alcohol for the psychosis. If religious delusions were real, then I wouldn’t fight them off with drugs and rigorous mental discipline. Schizophrenia is a disease. It is a condition of messed up brain chemistry. I agree with psychiatry and not talk therapy. Science is always the best solution. People don’t understand that the human brain is the base of behavior. The mind is no more than brain activity. And yes I am a materialist. Religious people can argue with me till kingdom come (which will never happen).
Eight twenty. I’m going through a weird kind of struggle. In 1862, Hugo thought materialistic philosophy was the privilege of the wealthy, while religion was the fare of the poor. I find this to be true in our own time as well, and I’ve been immersed in both worlds. Going from Hugo to Woolf was to revive my college learning, which really was a materialistic thing, with a few exceptions. Now I don’t know which way to turn. My old psychiatrist told me that I had fallen low, in terms of my status. This only made me rebel against him and turn to the church. Was that a mistake? Or will I come out of all of this the wiser? I should probably finish Les Miserables.
One thirty. I harbor a great deal of resentment towards L— H— for their mob mentality, of which I saw more than I wanted over five years of hell. They had us brainwashed to believe superstitions that just weren’t true, such as retribution for our misdeeds by a cosmic law. It was only a means of controlling us and keeping us in line. Everyone spouted about how karma was going to get us if we didn’t behave. I was a drinker throughout those years, but sober now, I find such practice sickening and abusive. Thus now when I go back to the agency for appointments, the memories all come back, but in distorted form until I can think it through. My sense of being judged and condemned comes from L— H— both now and a decade ago. They still treat participants like credulous children. If you don’t believe what they tell you, then they don’t want you around. C— and T— are both exponents of agency doctrine. H— is a little different; I think she likes me. Basically the place hasn’t changed since I worked there. Everyone knew eleven years ago that I wasn’t on their team. I was just turtling every day, working for money. R— and D— tried to corner me in a conversation once. They wondered how I survived the layoffs. It was because I was the only one who could do my job, like me or not. It was weird how a silly belief system could take such a toll. It was a Christian workplace, and I stood out like a sore thumb over a difference in ideas. I even reasoned with Alf that what matters is not the ideas in our heads but the material stuff we’re made of. I was a materialist, pure and simple. I still have a strong streak of biologism in me. And that should be perfectly okay. The existence of soul substance cannot be proven. A literal spirit and spirit world are highly unlikely if you look at the available information and think about it. My position on religion was just honest and probably too wise for my company to fathom… Anyway, now I just have to turtle again every time I go to the agency for an appointment. Hopefully I can keep visits to a minimum and forget about the place when I’m away.
Life from the inside seems to be meeting life on the outside. Perhaps I’ve been so successfully brainwashed in church that all my experience falls into a Christian cookie cutter. Things really click as far as my knowledge of my culture. Very odd how it’s dropping into place. Everything makes sense now, and I see it all with new eyes, hear it with new ears. Good and evil do exist as a dichotomy, at least for some people. The existentialist questions I’ve pondered grow clearer, so maybe I’m still digesting my Dostoevsky. The nineteenth century fascinates me in the way it debouches to the twentieth and culminates in the holocausts of WW2. But history doesn’t end there, of course. It still occurs under our noses. The old literary canon was dismantled so that now I have no clue what is taught in school. It seems to me that the classics are revived here and there merely to serve political and economic interests. I saw that happen with Aristotle nine years ago: his teleological metaphysics was used to support intelligent design theory. I wonder who brought back Freud and for what purpose? When I was unwell I fell into the middle of a mindless trend, this thing called “sexual identity.” It was inane, but it will pass and be replaced by another fad… On second thought, maybe the Christian ideas I’m having are just as silly as the Freudian ones. Then what rock can I cling to in the undertow? How about the simple stuff Carlos Williams wrote about? Keep your mind on the matter, on what is real and inflexible. The table and chair, the window, the tree, the dog are indisputably real. Everything else is relative and impermanent. Atomic matter remains the same, outside of any human paradigm. Don’t tell me that the science textbooks are fictive too!
Midnight. I woke up to a handful of email notifications, a few being from WordPress. My dream of the hollow tree may be more interesting than I had deemed. My brother’s attitude, when I joined him on the beach or riverside, was that the lower, easier tunnel was a no brainer. It was the materialistic way everyone else went. The climbing, narrowing tunnel was foolhardy and a dead end. He laughed mockingly at Christians, poets, and anyone who sought a spiritual truth. He held that the only truth was material and, I daresay, amoral. In reality he cackled, “Two by two, motherfucker!” and drove away in his sparkling car. So my dream queries who will have the last laugh, my brother or me. In his opinion, my theological struggle will end fruitlessly in death. My dream of the hollow tree admits some self doubt and fear that he may be right. His storing up earthly treasures may be wiser than storing up treasures in heaven. It is impossible to know until we both reach that threshold.