Autolycus & Gillyvors

Quarter after six.

There’s nothing really on my plate for today except the daily trip to get food for Aesop and me. Daylight will not dawn for another hour, yet sleeping any longer was out of the question. I dug out my beautiful Arden copy of The Winter’s Tale and considered it again; finally I went on Amazon to order The Tempest to read this spring. WT made me think of the church, a little community of Christians kind of like a Shakespeare reality, while my existence there was as a minor character, for example Autolycus, the peddler of bawdy songs and all around reprobate interested only in himself. Or anyway, that’s how a Christian sees me, which may be rather unfair and inaccurate about me. It’s hard to say. The breaking point for me was to realize that my parents were sinners according to church, when I knew I couldn’t condemn them for anything. A very difficult decision for me. Since a year ago I’ve written huge volumes of notes on my feelings about the situation, but I think the conclusion was quite foregone… It was last summer when I read WT the third time and applied it to my life somewhat unwisely. Shakespeare also says that the truth will out. In the end, I’m not “like” Autolycus or any other fictional character, as no one is really like anybody else. Life never imitates art but in our imaginations. So it makes you ponder the role of the half world of art and music and poetry. All in all it’s a didactic thing and something to please the senses… Just now I see the first gray light of day. It’s looking pretty overcast, maybe with some sprinkles, which doesn’t break my heart at all. 

Art and Life

Quarter after eight.

Everyone at the store was very courteous this morning except for one man who walked in and conducted business without wearing a mask. Michelle resented this disrespect but didn’t say anything to him. As I was walking down my street I could hear the scraping of squirrels’ toenails on the trunks of large trees. It’s only partly sunny so far today. I’m expecting a phone call from Heidi this afternoon. The song in my head is “Norwegian Wood.” A friend once told me that John Lennon deliberately imitated the style of Bob Dylan when he wrote this song, and yet it inevitably came out sounding like himself. Another time, when I was 21, I sort of rediscovered “Across the Universe” while listening to the blue compilation late at night. I was totally unprepared for what I heard, and the effect of the music just made me bawl hot tears. Also the words, of course. Someday I’d like to commit the whole lyric to memory. In stark contrast to my experience with the music, my clueless and insensitive dad was sleeping in his room down the hall, oblivious and obtuse. Why would anyone ever want to be like my dad?

Quarter after nine. And yet I named my dog Aesop because I was thinking of my father. Also he was very proud of my grades in philosophy. Dad could be logical, and sometimes made jokes that were absurd, though he was never shrewd or sharp, nor very perceptive. The best I can say about him is that he was constant, as if rooted to the ground like a great tree. He resembled a Faulkner character or two in this respect. And his core values were comfort and security: not very imaginative, but you could always depend on him in a crisis. Who would I be if I were a Faulkner character? 

Movie to Motive

Quarter of ten. No email from Suzanne yet. Every day is a little different from the last. No signs of life on my street. I took my gabapentin at nine. The sun is out. I no longer believe in God just because other people do. Herd morality doesn’t make superstition okay. I rely on my own experience to tell me what is what. And I guess that’s all there is to it… The sun is even brighter now, though there’s a convoy of thick clouds to the east. I wonder what makes me so fiercely independent? I never had any freedom growing up. My parents were authoritarian. I never had a voice. Maybe my rejection of God is a parallel to rejecting my parents. I don’t like to remember them, yet I often dream about them. In October 2016 I made a resolution to throw away the past and be more free. It happened as I was watching a movie called I Am the Cheese. Nobody remembers it now, but I first saw it in high school. Seeing it again, I identified strongly with Adam Farmer, who had lost his parents and was in the hands of a malignant psychiatrist… Thinking again, perhaps I jumped to a conclusion that October night four years ago. But my visceral reaction was so strong— through a haze of drunkenness. It was the moment when I decided I would quit drinking, although it took me another year to actually stop. It’s been a thing of defiance and a little perversity, but I still manage to avoid alcohol. And the motive started when I recollected this silly movie and watched it again. Maybe it wasn’t so silly? Now the rain comes down.

Life and Art

One twenty five. I played my Precision Bass and it sounded awesome to me. The low notes down around the third fret especially growled. I’m really happy with this instrument. Then I walked over to the store for a Sprite and cottage cheese. Cathy was cute even with a mask on. The gabapentin is probably doing something, but I don’t know what. I feel more easygoing than I did. The sun is out and, indeed, I feel different today from yesterday… While I was out walking on Silver Lane, the thought of my brother surfaced a few times, ridiculing and deriding me. I said screw him. He said I was worthless— totally unfairly and cruelly. But he was two faced with everybody, saying bad things about them to other people. He did this with Polly and her family too. He got caught doing it more than once, but I was the one who paid the price. My siblings played cat and mouse with me. I never mattered to them. I was their sacrifice… Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. If I had been distant from the situation, I could’ve seen more plainly what was going on. My siblings were more worldly wise than I was. The disillusionment I experienced was good novel material. But as it is, I can blog about it. When did Balzac write Lost Illusions, and what was the plot? Henry James would’ve read it. Every great writer owes his greatness to his influences. Without Balzac, there would’ve been no James. Without these two, no Freud could’ve existed. And without Freud to get it wrong, no cognitive therapy could’ve sprung up. Now the question is, was Freud really wrong with the sexual theory? I should read more of James Baldwin. Once I’m past the shock value, there will be much food for thought.

After Maisie

Midnight. I’ve been sleeping more deeply and having strange dreams. Towards the end I dreamt of my old pug dog Henry, whose euthanasia in July 2012 was a painful event for me. Everyone loved Henry. Wendy at the animal hospital was in tears the day of his demise. I remember how paranoid I still was when my sister came and helped me do the deed. Then again, maybe a little distrust was justified. It was the month when she pumped me for information about our brother’s feelings and attitudes. I spilled the beans, unmindful that she would later betray me to him. At Thanksgiving time, my sister did just that, and I heard about it from Jeff the following February. After that, the whole family excommunicated me for a year. But I was blackmailed by Polly, who had cornered me into telling her the truth. Again, the only real actors in the drama were the two of them, and I was used as a messenger. It was just like a novel by Henry James called What Maisie Knew. My siblings only employed me to gather information about each other— then threw me away. By the way, I named my pug after Henry James, my favorite writer at the time.

Original Copies

Four twenty five. Bass practice went much better today because I’d listened to some real music early this week. It stoked my mental ear with the sound of music, and then I could imitate what I’d heard. The activity of music is vitally mimetic, as I’m realizing more and more. Is there such a thing as originality? Music began in prehistory as mimesis of natural sounds, according to Schoenberg. Now in our time, music imitates other music. It is a process of copying what we hear. Plato said poets are liars, for they make copies of real life, which in turn copies the world of the Forms. During the Renaissance, it was believed that nature was God’s art, and human art copied nature. So what then is ever original in music and the other arts? Perhaps it’s just an accident of people being individuals. No two perceptions are exactly alike, nor can we reproduce what we see and hear precisely like the original. Art is mimesis, but the endeavor is not perfect: fortunately for us. Life would be boring if we knew the absolute truth. It would be Paradise regained, but this means an end to time.