Cherish

Nine twenty.

Another day, another worry. I used to listen to music to soothe myself but now I don’t know what happened to that. It’s been forever since I heard piano music by Erik Satie, just to sit and listen by myself. Some of the best things in life are going by the wayside, though I don’t know who or what is responsible unless it’s only me. However, something good came my way at the store, kind of. She was tall and quite pretty, and I let her in ahead of me at checkout. I don’t see much of that anymore. These are such unromantic times when nobody gives a damn for what’s really important. We clutch our wallets and say it’s all about me; but you can’t marry your money and you can’t take it with you past the grave. I stopped with Karen at her salon: she’s fussing over a valuable ring she had modified by a jeweler’s but they ruined it. Now she’s seen her lawyer and is taking her case to the top of the management, demanding that they fix the ring properly. I think it’s a sign of what people care about these days. We cherish dead matter instead of live human beings, and it’s all for ourselves… For some reason I keep writing on morality, but I’ll just go with it. It’s a dirty job that somebody has to do, so why not me? 

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Dauntless

Eight thirty in the morning.

Two intellectuals have said that literature is always moral; they were Ralph Waldo Emerson and D.H. Lawrence. I would extend this to any written description of human affairs, like a sketch or even a blog post, though we don’t usually consider them literature. Perhaps the definition of literature is any writing that expresses a moral of some kind… Aesop hears a dog barking far away and feels upset; but I tell him that he doesn’t even know what the other dog is barking at. The sympathy of the canine world is like human society. Roger’s garage door just opened with a squeal, so I know he’s starting a project for today. Last night I thought of how my life was before the Vraylar kicked in and also I had a year of therapy. I was abused by superstition from 12 Step programs and my own religious delusions. In April four years ago I finally did something big for myself with the help of my neighbor next door… Today I can say with conviction that schizophrenia and Christianity do not mix.

Wee hours.

It was eight o’clock at night when I made the late decision to swap bridges on my blue Fender bass. The idea was to go for a more natural sound from the instrument, less grungy than the zinc piece of hardware I’d been using. So, undaunted, I went ahead and did that, but I can’t test the tone through the amplifier until a decent hour of the day. In the meantime, the bass is settling overnight. After I got the strings back on it, I tuned it up and played it a few minutes. I discovered a new chord with harmonics that sounds like Rush in “One Little Victory.” Basically it’s a clash of major and minor thirds, for a sound like instability. I like it.

Morality Play

I’m not planning on going to church tomorrow, and we’ll just see what they say later. I hope no one calls me or drops by to give me a hard time. In Sartre’s ethics, I am free to make this choice but I’m responsible for the consequences because they follow from my action.

I’m okay with that.

I had a good time this morning when Gloria and I went to Bi Mart and I spent $28 on dog food, cleaning agents, and a rubber plunger 🪠 with wooden handle. This last was five dollars. And then later, at two thirty or so, I heard some bad news about Kim from the salon. Karen told me that Kim fell and hit her head, plus she had a cyst on her spinal cord and something else going on. Kim used to have neuropathy in her feet. She had fallen down four times in the past month. There was talk of giving her a walker, but if she needs it all the time, then she won’t be able to work. It was Kim who also had rotary cuff surgery a little ways back. It seems she’s had many health issues. She had the divorce with a jealous and stalking husband, and he had a lot of problems: bipolar, hearing impaired, and alcoholism.

The story of Karen’s salon is very Charles Dickens, very sad, with these characters who are underprivileged and disadvantaged. One of her past employees, Lisa, got herself out of that kind of situation. Now she has a job at a salon on Gateway Street. Her attitude is a bit different from the Dickens thing. She is proud and somewhat arrogant, and also she is quite beautiful personally. But morally, it makes you stop and scratch your head. Is it better to be a Dickens or a Darwin? Maybe the best solution is a medium between both attitudes. If I were a woman like Lisa, I wouldn’t want to work in Karen’s salon either.

From humility to hubris. It’s hard to know which way to turn, or when to use one or the other. Some people who fear God believe you should always be humble or else bad things will happen to you. On the other hand, a little pride can pull you out of the gutter.

Your Mother Should Know

Wee hours.

As I was thumbing through my journal, I came upon a little passage that I could use right now. To paraphrase, it said that the world is full of people with conflicting opinions, so that it’s impossible to please everybody. Therefore, you would do best to please yourself. Is this attitude Machiavellian? Perhaps there’s a flaw in my logic.

I was just dreaming that I went back to college for an advanced degree and I’d written a thesis or dissertation on atheism. My mother was alive and asked to read it. But when she saw the quote from Nietzsche that God was dead, she turned to my dad and said with a grimace, “That’s just awful!” So then she tried to impale the typescript on some sharp object before she came after me. I fled out the door into the street where, ironically, I was rescued by two girls from church driving a van.

I suppose that I’m responsible for the dream I had, plus for reporting it in a post. But it’s like what D.H. Lawrence said of literature. Never trust the dreamer, trust the dream. Meanwhile I should review The Prince to make sure of how I’m using the term Machiavellian. I wish there was a calculus of morals so that ethics would be an exact science. Does AI have a concept of right and wrong conduct? Can it give us the categorical imperative as in Kantian philosophy?

Or is morality simply going out of style?

It Isn’t Just Me

Five thirty.

I had a good morning, but after twelve o’clock my mood went downhill and I felt uncertain and unstable. I have doubts about playing the bass guitar anymore or doing anything at all with music. I don’t know what I want to do besides write. Above all, I feel quite rudderless the more I realize that my mother is really gone. I’ve set my course for sobriety, whatever this entails for my mental state and however lonely it makes me. It’s hard to seize the day when the day is so slippery. It’d be cool to be a master strategist, planning every move like a chess player— like my brother. He always kicked my ass at chess and every kind of game. My own method was defensive and passive, simply reacting to action.

The other thing to consider is that my brother was rather unkind. People like to believe that kindness counts for something. We wish for good to be rewarded and badness punished. But it’s difficult to say whether the cosmos has those values. Five years ago I began reading An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. The novel deals with just that question, and you wonder throughout the story if crime is punished or not. Will the protagonist get away with manslaughter? And is it more than a coin toss which way it goes? Which outcome are we pulling for?

But I didn’t get very far in that book.

It feels like we live in an amoral culture today. The Machiavelli approach to life is not worth it to me, I guess. I certainly hope that the meek get the heaven they deserve.

“Death defying, mutilated / Armies gather near / Crawling out of dirty holes / Their morals disappear.”