I’m going without caffeine today, no tea or Coke, no beverage at all. I saw what it did to me yesterday, especially in the early afternoon. It was unpleasant. I left a voicemail for my sister. It isn’t supposed to rain today, so my walk to physical therapy should be uneventful. I feel lonely, and I wish life could be different. I’d like to make another friend like Kate across the Atlantic. The best thing is to keep an eye out for opportunities to meet likeminded people. The sun is making an appearance.
Ten thirty. I just voted and put my ballot in the mailbox… Some of the measures dealt with substance abuse, so those were easy to decide on. I hope it’s a clear day for my stroll later. A thought on the edge of my mind keeps offending me. I think it’s about Santa Clara. I have to go there today, and it makes me feel like a child somehow, or a helpless victim. I’ll be in my sister’s jurisdiction while I’m there. People really believe in spooks in that part of town. It just gives me a feeling of sadness and a little anxiety that I could be caught out as an alien unbeliever. Worse, I fear psychosis and delusions of frightful things. It’s no joke when you have schizophrenia. I once had a frenemy who thought it was cute to make me watch horror movies with him. He was neither very smart nor sympathetic.
Noon hour. I don’t feel very good, but I guess that’s okay. My thoughts are all confused, enough to make me cry. I wish the truth were objective and not plural and divisive. We can be taught that round objects are really flat, or that two plus two equals three— and we believe it for a lifetime. And some will tell you to forget the truth and get on with your life; but what is life without pleasure, without fun? It is pinning the tail on the donkey blindfolded. Pushing a boulder up a hill repeatedly and uselessly. It is work with no play. It’s gray.
Nine o’clock. Today is starting out rather blah. I read that 2020 was the hottest September ever on record, and a clear sign of rapid global warming. I don’t know what to add to this.
Quarter of eleven. My next appointment for physical therapy is Monday at five o’clock. It’s only 1.3 miles away, so I’m thinking I might hoof it rather than take a taxi. According to the maps, it’s exactly a mile to Bi Mart from my house. At 9am it was 44 degrees outside, which was colder than I expected. But I still went to the store without a coat. The sun wants to come out. I’ve been thinking about the cultural differences between Europe and America, and how I decided to plug into my own nationality over three years ago. Was it a choice or was it necessity? I can’t figure out which place is more of an island, the United States or the one across the pond. However, I tend to agree with them that we’ve lost our minds over here. My America is in the grip of a sickness, sort of like what happened to Thomas Mann’s Europe a hundred years ago. We are all in an Alpine sanatorium, trying to get well from our disease— of racism and other injustices. Some people refuse to see it as it is. Even my sister is a white supremacist. It’s a disease that will consume us and spell our doom unless we get wise very suddenly.
Noon hour. I found some little black ants on the kitchen counter, so I did what I could to deter them. They hate white vinegar, and will usually go away if you sprinkle some around where they hang out. The partly cloudy sky is cerulean as it’s supposed to be, though I know the wildfires are still not totally extinguished. Karen’s friend Jean is very unwell with shingles. She showed me two pictures of her face, taken when she came to the salon. Dunno; the news today is a mixed bag of good and bad. I wish I could make the bad go away by drowning it with beer, but then life is supposed to be a problem, a series of hurdles to jump. I can’t imagine being a prehistoric man, fighting tooth and nail for his survival every day from dawn to dusk. We still have our struggles, but they have just gotten more complex, possibly more sublimated and psychological. I wonder how a thing like money was invented. Capitalism is simply a sublimation of the primitive fight to stay alive. Our imagination hasn’t progressed all that much; life is still a competition for food, clothing, and shelter. And then there is the Western religious tradition, which seeks to reverse the primitivism through loving and giving. This impulse to altruism marks humanity apart from the natural Darwinian world… I wonder when the next food pantry takes place?
Quarter of nine.
Patience is a virtue. Apparently my pen pal can’t receive emails from me by some glitch. I have to wait until the bugs are fixed. It’s another sunny morning. Furnace is running. I won’t participate in the Zoom service. There’s nothing factual about Jesus, and that’s why it’s so hard to believe. It is unfortunate that real information is expensive while BS is free. Even worse when the BS is also expensive… But maybe the best avenue to faith is the Intimations Ode by Wordsworth. Childhood memories hold the key to everything that is spiritual in us. It can take quite an effort to remember back that far. When things were “appareled in celestial light.” We may be asked to give up childish things, to grow out of them. There is conflict with “the Child is the Father of the Man.” And then what are we supposed to do? Go on growing up, or cling to the child inside? This is my personal brain teaser lately. Do I go with Wordsworth or try for something new and more mature?
Ten o’clock. Pretty soon I will hit the street and head to the store. Destination Snapple. Destination something new…
Eight twenty five.
During the wee hours this morning I read the opening chapters of The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth. I found that it offers much food for thought concerning things like economics, technology, and progress as opposed to conservationists who would stop the self seeking and save the Earth. My knee jerk is to remember the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous where it criticizes the attitude of our having conquered nature with science. Their answer is to regress to the primordial ooze. My own question is, How far can human history progress in a straight line? Wouldn’t we do better to live cyclically with the seasons, the way Native Americans once did? Wouldn’t this harmonize better with nature? Maybe these questions are not so silly as they seem. I suppose I watched the original movie of Planet of the Apes too many times. The inevitable aim of technology is self destruction. This was the take home lesson I gathered long ago, and now I’m reevaluating my assumption. The consensus appears to be something different. Faith in science and technology may be okay after all.
Quarter of ten. There’s a heavy fog in the neighborhood. It isn’t very warm out, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. Hopefully I’ll see something new in the market today. Life without variety can be pretty dull. My pen pal wrote me a long email this morning that I really appreciated. She suggested that I might’ve outgrown the church, and that church was there when I needed it a few years ago. I agree, the congregation was very kind to me, and I am thankful to them… I can’t believe the kind of dreams and nightmares I have nowadays. They seem like someone else’s imagination. Surely mine isn’t that sophisticated? I seem to be still processing the problem of evil in human life since revisiting Macbeth last month. I’m not the only one working on it. Pastor is looking for an antidote to darkness for his flock. Everyone has been decimated by every event starting in March.
Quarter of eleven. I guess I’ll walk off to the store now. Life might give a few answers…
Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day.
Five o’clock. I played my Dean bass and did some contemplating. I thought about how immature I am in the eyes of people who work hard for a living. And maybe they’d be right. And maybe it wouldn’t be fair to them that my life is easy. I could be shameless and unscrupulous regarding having a job. But still, my choices have been authentic, and they were mine to make. To me, anything was better than drudgery for another twenty years. The more pressure they put on me to show up and be productive, the more I wanted to get out of there. What did making glasses have to do with me? I had no interest in eyewear. It was just a job, not a career.
And so I plucked my green bass thoughtfully, tuning down to D a couple of times and experimenting with the intervals and harmonics, gazing out the window at my maple tree and the clear blue sky. I thought this is life, and we create every moment of it— through the notes on the green bass guitar. We all choose the life we live. Even if we don’t, it’s desirable to own responsibility for what happens. With the existential hero, we can say, “I know who I am, and who I may be, if I choose.” No one is a failure who wills his past, present, and future.
Nine twenty five.
The heat outside is already exhausting. It’s been hard on Aesop day after day. Today I’m going to try not to worry about anything. Whether I’m the master of my destiny or not is unknowable, so just resign myself to the ignorance. Maybe it’s desirable to take control where I can. The authorities can lock down on us all they want, but even then we have options. You can always choose to run a red light… The market has been out of burritos and Hot Pockets for over a week. I asked Vicki about a new shipment of food and she said tomorrow. So I’ll wait a little longer before making my run in the morning.
Lately the schizophrenia doesn’t bother me much. I still hear voices when there’s white noise in the room, but I mostly ignore them. I’m very thankful for my clarity of thought, which is owing to the Vraylar.
The sky is the same white color as yesterday, intense from the sun. This is one thing definitely out of my control. Nor will any amount of praying alter it. If I’m wrong, then I’ve been missing the boat all along. We seem oblivious to the fact that reality keeps going on even with our eyes closed. It doesn’t have to be looked at to exist. The things we wish for would’ve happened anyway. People are incredibly vain to believe that nature orbits around them, but human nature is another item out of my willpower.
Despite the heat, the sunshine is nice to look at. My dog had his breakfast at ten o’clock. I sort of miss drinking beer and being an honest reprobate, a rascal with some kindness about him. But in some ways, I’m still the very same person as when I drank. This is something I wouldn’t wish to change. So now I wonder if nirvana is for real. Is it really possible to eradicate all of your selfish desires and be the hole in the donut? They say progress, not perfection, but perhaps the ideal is not so great. But I can agree that kindness is a perpetual good. Sometimes it’s enough to just be who we are, and never mind living by doctrines and principles. One size never fits all. And those who judge us for merely existing have problems of their own.
It’s going to be a good day.
Another observation: Emerson’s exaltation of poets is similar to Nietzsche and Ayn Rand making creators the elite. In turn, Emerson resembles Blake when Blake says, “Would to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets.” In all four, we see elitism, the glorification of creative people, or maybe the poet that every individual has the potential to be. Wordsworth suggests that all people are in a sense poets by creating their perceptions of reality. However, Nietzsche does say that people are not all equal. I’m not sure how he means this… The day is dawning kind of green again. When the hour is decent I think I’ll play my favorite bass today, the turquoise Fender. Rock and roll fantasy, rock and roll dream, informed with a bit of classical music.
Six o’clock. I’m inclined to agree with my old history professor on the topic of elitism. What was it, then, that I used to love about Emerson’s essays? Now I think it’s absurd to claim that poets are inspired by the oversoul, by the spirit of nature, etc etc. Jung asserted that inspiration comes from the unconscious, which is the same thing as Emerson’s oversoul. Is the unconscious real? The test of this is to read Shakespeare, to plunge into the Green World of his comedies. And then to see how Goethe modifies the vision of Shakespeare. Also, it would help to revisit the Ion of Plato, which discusses poetic inspiration.
Quarter of eleven. My package with the book got handed to the wrong carrier at the hotel, so I ended up requesting a new copy from the publisher. All’s well that ends well, and I will see my Elizabeth Bishop. In the meantime I looked through my CDs and found the piano works of Claude Debussy and also Erik Satie. These are indeed good listening for summertime. I will love hearing Children’s Corner again. The music reminds me of my working days in the summer of 2007. On Friday evenings I would drink beer and escape with some exquisite music, something to transcend my redneck workweek. Little Henry the pug lounged with me on the loveseat while I lost myself in the headphones. Bliss! Now, the summer sun alone is sufficient to intoxicate a person… I guess we’ll be recording the worship again this Friday, and every Friday from now on. It is good to do a little public service.
Quarter after eleven. I avoided the online worship this morning because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. I’m only a humanist, not a holy roller. Every week it feels like I’m getting farther away from their beliefs. And as a humanist, all I see is their humanity, sometimes their inhumanity. The experience of psychosis is extremely unpleasant, and if my sister’s religion comes from the same place, then I cannot understand how she can live that way. It’s enough to say we disagree with each other…
I think a lot of people live with their heads in the Dark Ages. They haven’t seen the light of reason that shines on us like an invisible sun. It’s okay for them, but they ought to keep it to themselves. It’s a little like the difference between spectral Plato and sunny, muscular Aristotle. As if the latter singlehandedly dragged us out of the primordial ooze and still shines in his place for all posterity. The difference between night and day. Between mythology and mathematics. Aristotle is to me the Apollonian archer shooting straight. He is the letter A, while Plato is more akin to Pluto. He gave us logic and science, and vision instead of blindness. Aristotle is the full height of humankind.
Quarter after eight.
I just got up. Didn’t sleep very well. I hear a squirrel dancing on the roof. It’s cloudy like yesterday and it will probably clear up this afternoon. The perfect kind of summer day. Apple News was full of the coronavirus again. I mostly don’t think about it. The discovery of a vaccine will be a wonderful thing, but otherwise, what can I do? Helping at the food pantry is about all. Trying to remain optimistic. On the sidewalk around the corner from me, someone has been chalking messages. One of them was about music being key. Things feel pretty discordant, so harmony would be the antidote. Loving your neighbor as yourself is not just a commandment, it is a fact of biology. We all share the same genetic code. Life is diverse but also united. Even Christians and atheists should be able to get along. “We share the same biology / Regardless of ideology.” …I owe Aesop his snacks. Every day it’s easier to communicate with him. I forget that he’s a quadruped. He is a perfectly rational animal. Plato believed that the world is imbued with an essence of reason, and Emerson carried the same torch. Then from Emerson on down to Faulkner there’s increasing incertitude about the order of the cosmos… “But all the other teachings that have tried were about the same / One grain of truth mixed with confusion caused by man / Sits around here anyway, may as well get you back on your feet again.” I’m just spewing cabbage stumps this morning. I’d try doing a Coke, but caffeine is a drug, and it doesn’t agree with me very well. Wiser to avoid it and just muddle my way through.