D.H. Luddite

Midnight.

I’m wondering why the music has died. With the rise of the internet and electronic devices, people have become less human and social, which means they don’t make music together anymore. My iPad is so smart that it anticipates everything I’m going to say before I say it. D.H. Lawrence could’ve foreseen a world like ours, with the machines out of control and human beings subordinate to them. He’d be disgusted that we let this happen… Now we depend on the machines and keep using them for our convenience. I think live music is a casualty of the machine dependent age. It brings out the Luddite in me, though The Buggles saw the same thing in 1979 when they made The Age of Plastic.

Video killed the radio star

Video killed the radio star

In my mind and in my car

We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far

Short of some cataclysm, it’s impossible to go back. But if I had a Time Machine, you know I’d go backwards like a shot.

I am the backwards traveler

Ancient wool unraveler

Singing songs, wailing on the moon…

We’ll be wailing on the moon 

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Xanadu Denied

Nine o’clock.

I’m expecting Gloria at ten this morning, and we’ll probably go to Bi Mart because Aesop needs canned food. The lemon sky and something about the atmosphere suggest to me an early spring, not to mention the sparrows behind my house. There are times when I admit to myself that I’d love to get drunk on a tasty beer and pretend it’s the Pleasure Dome. But at this point, the consequences of alcohol are very dire. I have everything to lose by getting plastered, so I just daydream what I can’t actually do. There is music in my mind by Ravel from Daphnis et Chloe. I have the disc of the ballet and could listen to it, but I remember how it sounds well enough. Also, I’m feeling rather tired of being versed in the Western tradition in the arts and philosophy. There must be a way to escape it all. For today, it’ll have to be sufficient to make a trip to Bi Mart.

The Motels

Noon.

Again I feel tired and kind of lonely since talking with my sister on the phone. Sometimes we just don’t agree on much at all, and it wears me down. I had a different father from my siblings, which puts me on an island all by myself.

Quarter of three.

I was feeling low, so I needed to distract myself by doing something different. I played the bass for a bit and found myself picking out an old song by The Motels called “Only the Lonely.” I used harmonics for the synth chords, just simple diatonic fourths, and the bass line was easy enough. Presently I felt sad and pensive, remembering my mother’s own loneliness and need of a friend. When I was 16 I vowed to myself that I would be kind to Mom and be her buddy. The video by The Motels was often on MTV that autumn, causing me to stop and think, though a teenager’s thoughts are mostly nonverbal. At least mine were. And the emotions I felt were pain and pity even though the song was a little lugubrious.

Like a Star

Nine o’clock.

My trip to the store this time was a bit different. It was later, so I saw more women inside the market, some of them very nice looking. One woman drove a cobalt blue sedan and let me cross her path on the sidewalk. Then I watched her drive over to the green espresso shack and get in line. She had stood behind me at checkout. She was slender with red hair and wore a cardigan, which didn’t seem like enough on a cold winter day. I was dressed in my eternal blue parka and a navy blue beanie that covered my ears. On my way there, I passed an old white bearded man carrying a coffee who gruffly nodded and said hello. I always notice the moss growing on the asphalt just outside Randy’s car lot, enclosed by a wire fence with a locked sliding gate. Maxwell is a derelict section of the community, but sometimes graced by passers through, or saved by a local celebrity, as when Lisa deigns to make an appearance at the market. The other night I put in earbuds and listened to “Josie.”

When Josie comes home, so good

She’s the pride of the neighborhood

She’s the raw flame, the live wire

She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire

Love of Learning

Quarter after ten.

There’s some work being done in my neck of the woods. I saw that Dell is reroofing his house, and across the street from him, the new neighbor is having his house painted dark blue on the outside. I noticed that they’re doing it the hard way, with brushes and rollers rather than a power spray as they did to my house a few years ago… Then on N Park, the Wright tree service was parked at Randy’s car lot, with three guys sitting in the cab waiting to do something. Also, the cleaning lady was working at Karen’s salon because it’s Monday and that’s her schedule. But business was pretty slow at the store after nine o’clock. When I went inside, I had a vague impression of the old days at Community Market, with Vicki and JR and often Belinda in the morning. There’s a lot that I miss about those old times, yet too much of a good thing can be fatal, and if it seems too good to be true… My house sparrows are going nuts just outside my door. I see a bunch of adult males, likely competing for a female, though it seems like an odd time to mate. But it’s also odd for people to reroof and repaint in the middle of winter. Confusion reigns supreme.

Next day.

I am visited by Beatles music again in my head. If Christianity is the great code for Western literature, then The Beatles are the Rosetta Stone for rock and roll from their time onwards. Except for Walt Whitman, I’m finding literature to be quite onerous nowadays due to my involvement with the church for five years. I see religion everywhere I look. And even if contemporary poetry in the mainstream has moved on, in the public sphere it’s still the same old stuff. I notice that the church mostly ignores literature done after WW2, adhering to the 19th Century. It’s almost as though the last century never happened for them. Never heard of Oppenheimer or the Holocaust. We skipped from one Victorian Age to the next… The church has stunted my growth lately. It’s time for me to do something new. Take a class or something— anything to get me out of this rut. Learning doesn’t have to stop at a certain point, and history didn’t end with the 20th Century. 

Life Resists Dogmatism

Midnight.

My P Bass is now a modified monster that sounds unlike a Fender anymore. Still, I can’t wait to play it again tomorrow. Music by Chick Corea comes back to me with his first Elektric Band, but then I remember that he passed away fairly recently.

Nothing and no one lasts forever, and even eternity would be a mistake in logic, because nothing has extension and motion without spacetime: existence is impossible otherwise. Thought itself would not be possible if time didn’t exist. Everything occurs within this framework, which I’m getting from Walter Pater’s conclusion to his Renaissance studies. The experience of life is entirely sensory, a series of fleeting impressions. I don’t know how Boethius would respond to this argument. He separated human experience into transitory and permanent, saying that rational love is the latter. I think Saint Paul said that philosophy is carnal and only Christ is true and spiritual. In his view, what Pater wrote would be carnality and thus execrable.

It seems that everyone who has an idea wants to make it a dogma. But dogma itself is a fallacy because everything’s in constant motion. Nothing sits still for its portrait. There is no immobility in human life. Goethe was probably right that experience is the best teacher, so go outdoors and leave the books behind. I’m convinced.

Soothsayer

Noon.

The ides of January, I suppose. I got back from church 45 minutes ago, stopping at the store in between. The best part of the service was the Debussy postlude. You don’t hear the second Arabesque often, so it was a treat for me. The weather continues windy with scattered showers. I feel kind of like a worthless epicure, a person who doesn’t inconvenience himself to help others as a Christian does. There have been other insights to what made my sobriety possible, not so admirable except for my honesty in observing them. Pastor didn’t address a word to me today; he’s probably a bit upset because I wasn’t there for Christmas Eve. But it was okay. Nobody booed and hissed at me. I noticed that turnout today was pretty low. Dunno. I sometimes feel like a reverse magnet, a repellent for people. At least I tell the truth; and that’s exactly why I am avoided. With that, the sun breaks through a little. It shines on righteous and not so righteous alike. I used to think the sun was partial to everyone but me, like the blonde assassin passing on in the Dickinson poem. But it was always the same.

Paranoia comes and goes… 

Superman!

I was more productive with my bass practice today than usual. All along it’s been me and not my music gear, of course. I used my Jazz Bass and covered some Thomas Dolby songs, from The Flat Earth especially. It sounded pretty great to me this time. Most of the time I can’t make anything happen with my music. There’s nothing wrong with my bass guitars, just me. In this case, it can be tempting to use a substance for better productivity or for inspiration. The honest truth is that sobriety took away my creativity. Or perhaps my poor brain is just going downhill as I age.

It might help my ability to just throw myself into a situation with other musicians. But without a car for transportation, it’s a lot harder to make this happen.

It seems like the government ought to do more to help citizens adapt to everything that’s going on in the world right now. It’s just unbelievable, the bs and the problems facing everyone these days. And it’ll probably get worse. Lisa at the store told me that the emergency food stamp boost will end in February— next month. This means I’ll get only $83 in food stamps per month, so I’ll have to spend more out of pocket to eat. Thus, how are seniors and people with disabilities, who depend on a fixed income, supposed to live?

For reading matter, Theodore Sturgeon is looking pretty good.

I say we elect Superman President!

Amid this crowd of Clark Kents there’s gotta be somebody who can do a quick change of clothes in a phone booth and save the world.

Just take a weekend and do it.

Friends Come and Go

Eight twenty five.

Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.

Nine thirty.

Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.

The Stand

Eight thirty five.

I fed the dog first this morning and then made my daily run to the market. A few lines from Dylan came to me on the street: “You’re invisible now / You have no secrets to conceal / How does it feel… like a rolling stone?” Nothing new really presented itself before I got to Maxwell Road. Just another cloudy day. In the store it was quite busy. Ahead of me at checkout stood a tall Black man who apparently wasn’t a regular customer. I thought Lisa could’ve treated him better. It reminds me of Bruce Hornsby a long time ago. He was shocked when his tune with jazz licks and lyrics about racism was a hit. Sometimes public opinion really is a surprise. It gives me a little hope for humanity, even in the darkest times… As I marched back home, I gazed east, straight down the road, marking the heavy traffic: a string of red taillights, car upon car. They were heading into the heart of the sunrise, except for the clouds. Near the end of Maxwell Road in that direction stands the Lutheran church. Probably I’ll attend this Sunday, just to belong someplace, and Lutherans are the closest to what I can accept. Though the dawn is tardy, somewhere in obscurity there is sunlight.