Know Thyself

Noon.

I had a nice excursion with Gloria this morning over to Division Avenue to drop off some old things and incidentally walking into the furniture store to price loveseats. This was quite a shock to me: the least expensive ones were almost $800 and the dearest were over $2200. We made jokes about that afterwards as we headed off to Carl’s Jr. for a few hamburgers; and no price breaks there either, but how delicious was my double jalapeño cheeseburger when we got home. The day is quite hazy and sultry, and actually foggy early this morning. My mind’s ear can hear some very pleasing music from Steve Khan, so I intend to go listen to the disc again. And for some reason it seems like a good idea to read my Montaigne, the guy who made a study of himself in his fat book of essays; in fact, the inventor of the essay. Many writers have imitated him in after time, but how many preceded his example, his mark on literature? At one point, self absorption was considered bad or a sin, even again recently by certain types of people. But I think that if you don’t possess self knowledge then you really know nothing at all, as the oracle at Delphi chiseled above the doorway to the temple. Therefore read your Montaigne in good health and follow his model to be wise. 

Truth

I’ve been thinking about church and Easter, etc and how lonely I feel lately, like a kind of outsider from the human race. Until yesterday I didn’t realize that I miss my friends in church. And yet I see that there are so many ways of dividing people against each other; by their politics, religion, and other personal beliefs. I feel pulled in different directions at once, and the fact of being sober seems to make it more difficult. I know however that drinking is even more problematic than staying sober. It’s very hard to be a highly sensitive and perceptive individual, seeing all these conflicts and contradictions, the sheer confusion of everything. How to make it all compatible with itself; how to unify it all in harmony and peace? And then I remember the writings of Montaigne, who let the contradictions dangle unresolved. They could be allowed to coexist. I knew a friend in reality whose approach was very similar: she hated conflict and any kind of extremism. Her father and her oldest sister got into the worst fights with each other, starting with a disagreement and ending in violence. Thus, maybe my logic is overrated, my tendency towards black and white judgments, trying to nail everything down like Aristotle or another philosopher. Maybe better to say that’s life and let the loose ends stay that way.

I haven’t read very much Montaigne. I ought to look into it. I think that something about my method is not working very well, and Pastor was right about leaving things gray in order to have more friends and get along with more people. The relentless quest for the truth can be quite limiting for your social life. The truth may well be that there is no truth.

Like Montaigne

Four o’clock in the morning.

I took a Vraylar pill tonight and feel pretty good, except I’m not sleepy now. I have to make up my mind about going to volunteer this morning. I’ll probably be doing well to get to church on Sunday, so don’t sweat it. I can be my own judge. Today, the store doesn’t open until seven o’clock. Also it takes longer for the daylight to dawn. For these reasons I might as well sleep in as long as I want. Suddenly it’s a flood of Debussy’s orchestral music, especially “Fetes” from the Nocturnes. I hear an arrangement of his Reverie as well, such a swelling, crushing little piece of music: and I remember being 25 years old again, with these sounds still fresh in my brain. I had a volunteer job with the American Cancer Society. I helped them move locations from Pearl Street to Oakmont Way, schlepping a lot of stuff in the late summer or early fall. The word “volunteer” must have called up this memory from long ago.

Seven ten.

Although my conscience says I should go to the food pantry and help out, I still don’t feel very great this morning and want to rest and regroup.

I’ve been to the store and back. Feeling kind of tired, and I know that the church has expectations of me; but it’s not worth it to feel guilty. I’m always just inches from quitting the congregation anyway… There’s not much intelligent life in this sector of the city. How can people read a book like Moby Dick or Huckleberry Finn and still make it consistent with Christianity? I guess they place information in different buckets and don’t try to unify it to coherence. The contradictions are allowed to coexist in their minds; but that would drive me insane. I couldn’t be like Montaigne. All of the disconnected bits and fragments of ideas beg to be stitched together in a worldview, a system, and what is incompatible with it gets tossed out. I’m not sure where I learned to do this, except I know it was in school. It’s just the way I impose sense on reality; although you know, the ones who think like Montaigne may be onto something. The truth is that reality is full of contradictions and incoherence and downright illogic.

Quarter of nine. Some people can live like an encyclopedia, with the odds and ends of information scattered about their brain. They keep their religion in a lockbox separate from everything else and let the particulars dangle, disconnected, disunited. I don’t know if I could ever do that… The sky is silver like mercury with a little sun peeking through. I’ve decided to stay home today. Maybe I’ll peruse my volume of Michel de Montaigne to see what I’ve been missing.