Defense of Music

Three o’clock.

My self flagellation seems to have come to an end for now. Freud used to say that bad dreams were occasioned by masochism. So, we voluntarily punish ourselves when we think we deserve it. Conscience is a strange and disposable thing. I wonder what I did wrong that I should flog myself with painful thoughts? But guilt is only a perception. It could be that I felt bad for not wanting to work a regular job. I emailed Dominic about this yesterday morning, but he was actually quite cheerful to hear from me. Apparently no regrets on his side, thus I should let myself off the hook. And he must be aware of how I love my music. The guilty conscience comes from experience with my family, especially my brother, who said openly that music is no way to make a living. On the other hand, there was my mother, who always encouraged me to use my gifts. Also there’s the church, which understands that different people have different abilities and different vocations. My brother doesn’t acknowledge any other aptitude than math and science, unfortunately. He has a big blind spot for the arts. I feel bitterly towards him for being so obtuse. The one whose opinion counts after all is me. And I have a lot of other support now that I don’t speak with my brother anymore. I realize that I will never get the approval I need from my brother, so from now on I have to just forget about it. Joseph Campbell said follow your bliss, and since I have but one life to live, I choose to do what I was born to do.

Monday Night

Quarter of ten.

I have a couple of purely social engagements this week, and one of them is with Heidi. She is a lot of fun because she’s so young, or perhaps young at heart. We can banter together, talk about nonsense while the invisible antennae purr between us. We had this sort of rapport from the time of our first meeting: a certain ease and familiarity, even informality, when we cruised over to Cal’s Donuts. It was as if we’d always known each other… My Wi-Fi has been connected for nearly a week now. At some point in the future I’ll have the motivation to unpack my computer, but it could be a long time coming. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but so far it hasn’t arisen. I’m anticipating my jam this weekend with gusto. It should be fun, but serious fun at the same time. I want to take my red Precision Bass copy, which I’ve been practicing on most recently. I remember how Roger helped me hotrod it with a DiMarzio pickup in August of 2018. He did the soldering for me, and together we figured out the instructions. We were lucky that the pickguard fit over the part after it had been installed. Finally, that December, I put in a high mass bass bridge, brass finished with chrome. The overall effect is quite a monster P Bass tone. The jam will take place on Sunday afternoon. As for right now, not much is going on. I can’t decide which book to read out of such a huge collection. William James might be interesting to learn more about. His revival ten years ago was quite a thing, though at the time I disagreed with it. At best, I was ambivalent. My brother was a diehard factualist, but James argued for the practical usefulness of religious ideas. If a belief worked for you, then it was in some sense true. This was the essence of Pragmatism. Today, I don’t know what to think of that. I only know that optimism can see you through difficult times. If it’s inaccurate, at least it works… Aesop is ready for bed again, and anon I’ll be right with him. In about twelve hours, Polly and I will be having lunch at Red Robin. It’s my long awaited birthday celebration. Fifty three years old, and thankful to have come this far…

Long Post: A Thousand Starless Words

Warning: Intense religious content
Eight thirty five.

I caught myself having an episode of psychosis this morning. I emailed Suz about what was happening and she replied very nicely. I have the food pantry this morning; must take off in twenty minutes, or maybe a bit later. I usually get there too early. Cathy should be there with her cookies, which are always welcome. The milk of human kindness is a far cry from delusions about the devil. I don’t know where my religious delusions come from, but they are terrible. As for Sheryl, I still think she was a lousy therapist. Or maybe not qualified to work with schizophrenic people. Funny how I fired her, and then, PeaceHealth was just as bad. I didn’t care for Bonnie very much. Finally I came full circle to Laurel Hill, and that was a lot better. I will tell Dominic that I don’t want to work a job. I can tell him about my episode today. And really, I’ve been under unusual stress lately. Psychosis is very uncomfortable and frightening. No one seems to understand it. However, I do want to stick out playing music with other people. It’s something I’m really good at, and hang the delusions. They are not real. I’ve had all kinds of delusions and hallucinations in my life, but none of them was real. The sexuality stuff could be yet another delusion. I might as well take the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind not the therapists I’ve had, but rather the psychiatrist I used to see. It’s ok to pick and choose among my experiences with providers. I know my own illness very well. Only a few minutes to go. Think about how glad they’ll be to see me…

Noon hour. The food pantry went as usual, nothing extraordinary happened. When I got home, I rested for a few minutes, then I went and bought some food for Aesop. Now he’s been fed and I can relax with my ginger ale. The sun is out in a partly cloudy sky. People are out walking their dogs, children are playing, and the temperature is unusually warm for winter. I went out in just a sweatshirt, no jacket. It’s good to see the sunshine after a week of solid overcast skies. You tend to forget that the sun even exists in winter. The deprivation of light makes you depressed and a little hopeless. Right now the silence is almost unbroken. Two nights ago it rained super hard, but I hardly heard anything because of my new storm windows. My brain is playing a song called “Starless” by King Crimson. The lyric to it is awfully depressing. My conscious mind can’t retrieve the words, but my subconscious probably knows the whole thing. I bought the album Red at Earth River Records when I was still 17 years old. At the time, I already had a vague notion of what the band was about. It wasn’t very healthy for me to be listening to. I knew that my Spanish teacher was a Christian, so in part I rebelled against her beliefs. I don’t know why. High school was a bizarre time for me, with not very many choices of ideology. Pretty much, it was only Christianity and rock and roll, and reactions to both. College was a much better atmosphere, and I learned about this thing called philosophy, which enabled me to think critically about anything under the sun. My whole education after high school was an exposure to philosophy. We were taught how to think, not what to think. Across all disciplines, the underlying theme was philosophy; it was logic and reason.

One forty. I’m in a rut I need to get out of. The episode I had this morning was alarming. It reminded me that I indeed have the illness, and sometimes even the medication can’t block the symptoms. I might take an afternoon nap, because I know I didn’t sleep well last night. Until then, the ginger ale tastes really good.

Five twenty. Wow, Chris K posted a note on my blog that was very heartfelt and nice. He believes that I’m very brave for putting it out there about my illness. I suppose that he’s right. He’s probably sleeping right now, but I replied to his comment… I practiced my bass guitar for a while, and it sounded good to me. It makes a difference when I wash my hands with soap prior to playing. It just feels better. My chops work better that way. I like the sound of my red Precision copy. I think Ron would like it too. I never did get a phone call from Bruce from church. He said he wanted to jam with me. Actions speak louder than words. But the jam with Ron and Mike is already set up. I’ve just closed the blinds and turned on the porch light. It’s raining outside, and I can hear it. It’s nice to have things quiet… Whoa, I just had a psychotic thought. Is the band King Crimson expecting Armageddon? I was watching a YouTube video of them doing “Starless.” Not a smile on anybody’s face. It looked like a recent performance. Robert Fripp had white hair. I need to get myself out of this funk. I’ve experienced enough of being a prophet. Now put away the bass guitar and steer clear of rock and roll. Just go to church and sing in the choir. This is sheer lunacy. If the Bible is the truth, I don’t want to know about it. Very strange week I’ve had. Perhaps it started a week ago, or whenever it was I dug out my red Precision copy and played John Wetton lines. What compelled me to do that? Was it like God inspiring me to pick up the instrument and begin prophesying? I remember: it was last Sunday afternoon. But surely I am delusional? And maybe King Crimson is too…

David Crosby

Four o’clock.

Things hit me…

It was Tuesday afternoon when I spun the CD Deja Vu by CSNY, a release of 1970. Now flooding the floor of my mind plays the title track, written by David Crosby. It grabs you from the very opening, with the 12-string acoustic guitar in G minor waltzing a fast 3/4. The vocals in harmony come in, expressing something about having been here before. Presently the key changes to E minor in a slow common time, giving way to an electric bass solo by Gregory Reeves while the voices chant, “We have all been here before…” The overall effect on me is haunting. Just the fact that I am sitting there hearing a recording from 1970 gives a chilling sense of “already seen.” Seen already… and to be seen again and again, to the throb of the Reeves Fender bass, taking us back and beyond — and forward.

The Light on Broadway

Quarter of five. I felt very tempted to drink earlier today but rode it out. Something triggered me, cued me to times in a specific past. I think it was the color of the sky this morning, a luminous gray, making me believe it was 2017 again. I was so unwell back then, and also flat broke. I never had any money to spare. My addiction burned a hole right through my pocket. I really was a different person before I quit drinking. The daylight is dying down outside, gray fading to black gradually. The day turned around when I sat down to play my bass. I just emailed Mark regarding a future jam. We’ll see what he says. I feel more up with the present again. A little bit hungry. Aesop was good today while Damien and Todd worked on my trees. I’m glad for the nightfall; daytime feels oppressive sometimes, as if the sun were a judge in the sky, hammering verdicts with his gavel. Church tomorrow should be good. I ought to tithe something, but I’m nervous about my bank account. We’re supposed to turn in our pledge forms tomorrow. I hope I remember. It’s twilight outside now. Twilight time reminds me of The Moody Blues, in turn of when I used to work a job at Laurel Hill. I don’t think I could work another job like that one again. Nobody cared about my opinion when I was 37 years old. The street hires didn’t give a damn about the participants. We were looked down on as inferior… Jet black night. Dreams are forgotten, but my mood is better. I’d like to find my copy of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Peter Gabriel’s last album with Genesis. Probably it was their best album, though I think I like Selling England by the Pound better. This afternoon I picked out a few bass lines from old King Crimson. I had fun with “The Great Deceiver” and “One More Red Nightmare.” When I was done, I looked out the window: nothing had changed on my street. Roger was puttering about with his 77 Ford as usual. The overcast was a sheet of gray, no longer luminous, but the light dying down… on Broadway…

Orphan Love Song

Everything I think or say or do

Is influenced by someone else like you

Someone else to compromise my life

I’d sever strings but blunted is my knife

Conditioned by an outside source

I cannot navigate my course

Instead my friends and family reign

As I abandon my domain

To love

Why is it that I always try to please

What causes my autonomy to freeze?

I’d sever strings but blunted is my knife

And all I have are others in this life

They say that in this orphaned universe

A squeeze of the hand for better or for worse

Community of man is all that’s left

In this desert world of deity bereft


25 December 1998

A Duty of Love

Two thirty five. I’ve done some sleeping and half conscious thinking about my experience with Satin Love. It appears that the difference between me and the band was my Platonism to their Christianity. That is, I was possibly gay. The band’s whole emphasis was heterosexual love, but for some reason I didn’t fit in. I was intellectual, academic, trying to be a local rockstar. Satin Love, I thought, was a sham, when what I cared about was the truth. I even questioned the idea of “love:” just what was that? The devotion I felt to my parents was a kind of love. And I realized that they were going to die soon. At the same time I was under pressure to get married, get a life. I was in my early thirties. But the bond with my parents was stronger than that of any sexual relationship. We needed each other. No one else understood that. I’m not sure I do either. It turned out that I took care of Mom and Dad till the bitter end. I couldn’t have borne for them to be lonely without me. They had no friends of their own. And when cold finality came, all they had for consolation was me. So in a way, I performed a duty stronger than anything selfish I wanted. And that to me was a kind of love.