To the Underworld

Wee hours.

I came awake thinking about Orpheus and Eurydice, the most powerful and personal of classical myths for me. He loves her so tenaciously that he seeks out the underworld and confronts Pluto to bring her back from death. This is granted on the condition that he not look back at her as they are leaving hades. Orpheus fails in this and loses Eurydice forever. Then he is left alone to mourn with his lyre. Another great story is that of Pygmalion, the talented sculptor who falls in love with the statue he molds of the perfect woman. Venus takes pity on him and endows the statue with life. The new woman is named Galatea, and the lovers are happy ever after.

I decided that I’m going to band practice no matter what happens, even though with the music project I’m beating a dead horse. I know I’ve been over the hill and I feel like a husk of my former self. But I’m stubborn and won’t admit defeat. “Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” Then again I was always a saturnine introvert, disinterested in the passions that enthrall most people. I wished to remain free and that’s how it turned out to be… I feel like Jimmy Page in his fantasy of himself in The Song Remains the Same. He climbs the hill to meet the wrinkled old man with the lantern— who it turns out is himself many years hence.

Briar Rose

Quarter of ten.

Conditions were pretty normal at the little market this morning. Michelle and the customer ahead of me were talking about the new tax on cigarettes. Because of this, the cost has gone up to ten dollars a pack. Michelle considers the tax to be punishing people with addictions, which isn’t fair. I can see the sense of that. Pricing people out of nicotine is effectively a form of prohibition. It’s a one sided way of looking at things; I don’t smoke, therefore you shouldn’t smoke either. Well, I voted against the tax, though the decision took some thought. 

I bought a sub sandwich, cottage cheese, and two Snapples. The mail carrier mistakenly gave me Diana’s letter, so I went across the street and wedged it in her door. Bonnie Rose passed me on her way back from the espresso shack and waved without smiling. It really puzzles me that I never see Colin outside his house anymore. We had a big windstorm last night, yet the political sign in my front lawn still stands. So does Roger’s black and blue striped police flag, in a strange and silent standoff between neighbors. Most of the time, people around here are peculiarly quiet, the silence rudely broken by my bass guitar nearly every afternoon. No one says anything, and no one has vandalized my sign or any of my property. The magic spell reminds me of a fairytale in the Brothers Grimm. I believe it was “Briar Rose,” or “Sleeping Beauty.” A woman pricks her finger on a spindle and everyone enclosed by the hedgerow falls into a deep sleep, or maybe a paralysis. They freeze as if catatonic. I forget what or who breaks the enchantment, but it was probably a prince happening by the scene… 

Zodiac / Victoria’s Secret

I’ve been sleeping a few hours, and I woke up overheated and maybe dehydrated. I had a number of dreams about the zodiac and the element of Saturn in my horoscope. Somehow, the image of the goat and the similarity of the name Saturn to “Satan” all melted down to the same archetype, I imagine. Traditionally, the devil was depicted in the form of a goat, just like the fauns, satyrs, and the earth god Pan in Greek mythology, and the main idea of the goat was lust and procreative power. Before Christianity took over, goats were sacred to the wine god Dionysus. There was nothing particularly bad or wicked about the goat in antiquity. All of this reminds me that I have a book on the cult of Dionysus in my stuff, written by a Jungian scholar. It might be good. Did you ever read Bacchae, a tragedy by Euripides? Perhaps it is of more interest to me. About fifteen years ago I read it to compare it to Christian tradition, and the parallels between Jesus and Dionysus were rather startling. Both were arrested and brought to justice, and both rose again in the end. Both were too powerful to be conquered… Mythology and its relation to astrology, and the whole subject of symbolism, I find fascinating. It delves into an interior reality of the unconscious, though I think the last word still hasn’t been pronounced on it. The field is still wide open for new scholars and new discoveries.

Well, the mystery of Victoria and her family goes on. This morning I found a thank you card on my mailbox for the chocolate, again from Victoria. This game of note passing makes me imagine strange things about the situation in their home. Maybe Diana is another Republican sore loser like Roger and Alice? I only know that Victoria graduated from the University of Oregon in psychology and wants to be a therapist. Meanwhile, her mother is uneducated and resentful of people who go to school and succeed in something. Victoria probably knows I attended the University a while back, and also her dad is a fifth grade teacher who went to the same school. And then there’s the matter of my political sign outside for Black Lives Matter. Still, all of this is circumstantial evidence and pure speculation on my part. Yet the cards she gave me are very real; I’ve put them up on my bookcase.

After the Minotaur

Quarter of nine.

With church being over for me, I should find other people to see locally. Wait for the dust to settle, then look for a social activity; probably music. My new copy of Karamazov is coming today. Too little, too late. I’ve crossed that bridge, and now I’m unwelcome in church. It’s been a strange and hectic month. People say it is a time of division. I suppose there’s nothing magical about this during an election year. People in groups behave in specific ways, though I don’t understand the ways of sociology. There are predictable patterns of social behavior, as if the group were a conscious entity in its own right, a massive organism composed of individual humans.

Quarter of ten. I don’t know where I belong now, but I’m still along for the ride with everyone else. To be conscious is to be involved with the world. Maybe I’m just watching the wheels. A major part of me would love to go to Ireland or Scotland and have a few beers in a real British pub. This will never happen, but I can daydream about it. Careful about dreaming; it tends to leave you stranded… One needs to be his own guide through life. But sometimes it seems that there’s nowhere to go. No place for a new adventure. At the same time, there’s no turning back, so you’re stuck in limbo for a while. It’s important to be fearless with your thinking, to follow where it leads. Like being in a maze, you sometimes reach a dead end and have to start again. Life is one big maze, a labyrinth possibly with a Minotaur wandering through it. Alcohol was my Minotaur, but the labyrinth goes on and on. 

Turned to Stone

Turned to Stone




Humanity with fear is paralyzed,
Unable to enjoy a single pleasure,
Dissatisfied to even shed a tear
As if a Gorgon stared us into stone.
Medusa, hair of snakes, in spirit form
Sends out a signal petrifying all,
Revenge against her slayer Perseus.


But Perseus, the favored of the gods,
Is not asleep, and armed with sword and shield,
Is ready to behead her as before,
Releasing everybody from her spell.
So once again the world is free to feel
The joys and sorrows proper to its kind,
And more important, act accordingly.

A Coke and a Smile

Quarter after ten.

The possum under the house made a big racket early this morning. I missed some sleep because of it. At dawn, I slept in until nine thirty and then fed the dog. My walk to the store was rather difficult. I just felt tired and defeatist. What was the use? So I bought a two liter of Coke to pick myself up. I feel a little bit better now. Sometime between noon and four o’clock today, Damien is coming, so that’s something to look forward to. I wonder now if the key to human happiness might consist in generous acts. I should visit the salon more often than I do. Even if I feel awkward when I go there, still I ought to do it just because it gives someone pleasure. The Vraylar tends to put my thinking in Enlightenment mode, but as Wallace Stevens says, “It is not the reason that makes us happy or unhappy.” Perhaps all the knowledge in the world wouldn’t conduce to joy. Think of Odin, who possessed perfect wisdom, but for whom this was a woeful burden. The Father of the Gods was melancholy because he foresaw their own demise… Yet a little generosity and kindness can go a long way. And it takes my mind off of myself. Let us all share a Coke and a smile, on me. 

Rainbow’s End

Eight forty.

I’ve gone to the store already and stopped to chat with Derek. Also Roger is out working on his Ford. He remarked that it looks like thunder ahead for us. The sky is lemon and dreadful. It would seem strange to have a morning thunderstorm. But it may be a catharsis too, nature’s ablution. The day is glowing blue. No one appears very happy lately, with the lockdown and the civil rights protests, and now nature shows its sympathy with the unrest. Could be wishful thinking. Shakespeare’s time is not ours, although ideas tend to be recycled. Rain comes down right now, and sunshine simultaneously. Should be a pot of gold in this somewhere. At least a rainbow bridge to Asgard. Seek an audience with Odin the All Father for a solution. Would he say come back tomorrow?… Aesop’s breakfast is due pretty soon. I’m going to call the veterinarian for advice on bathing him. I’d rather do it outdoors than in the tub. I hope he’ll be cooperative. I had a dream that I’d gotten in touch with my brother. Maybe the family discord is the problem I want solved. Shit, I think I’ll call my sister today.

The Muse Returns

Wee hours. I love El Salon Mexico! Hearing it in my head is pure bliss. Copland is one of the great composers, and so North American. Sometimes music comes my way like a coquette, and other times she gives me the cold shoulder. Such is the muse of inspiration when you are past your prime. In her absence you fill the gaps with reason and ordinariness until she comes again, a moonlit goddess, Diana herself. Why didn’t the Greeks make Artemis the goddess of music as well as the moon? Instead, Apollo was assigned the job of both sunshine and music. Perhaps like Midas I have donkey ears, being unable to judge between Apollo and Pan in a music contest. And what is wrong with the pipes of Pan?… My ad on Craigslist has attracted one bite so far. Very good news. And maybe my coy mistress, music, will visit me again and take me for a Jungian ride as she did in my thirties. Or will it be an Emersonian ride, something all American and proud of it?

Boxes Yet to Open

Quarter after one. This is another day when I feel quite strange and rather alien to myself. I don’t know what to expect next. There may be revelations. I read a little bit of Roethke and thought it was very good. Also from a box I recovered my copy of Unamuno, which I had believed to be lost, plus a novel by Iris Murdoch. I even found my old astrology book by Ronald Davison, one of the best on the subject. Sometimes older books are closer to the kernel of the truth than more recent writing. Equally fascinating is The Dictionary of Symbols, compiled by Jean Chevalier, full of rich mythology and folklore and information from astrology.

Quarter after ten. The rain and thunder caught me dreaming about some haunted hospital or twisted old house as in a tale by Lovecraft. It was a different kind of day, poking through boxes concealing mystery and imagination, unlocking the secrets of the soul, teaching them to speak like the Raven. Mostly I was inarticulate during the day, but now the night and the lightning loosen my tongue. And why not expose the gems and precious metals held inside these boxes, these compartments of the mind? Allow them to breathe in the light of day, smuggling them out piece by piece? The thunder answers something muffled and nonverbal. If it could talk, what would it say? Perhaps I could build a machine for translating the language of nature. Like in a Nordic tale of Sigurd, half forgotten, where he eats the white snake and lo, he comprehends animal speech. The same story reappears in The Brothers Grimm, an oral tradition passed down eight or ten centuries. Why shouldn’t these old stories teach us about nature from within our subconscious? How could the beautiful be other than true?

Atlas and Hercules

The charcoal sky portends another flood

And understood between the firmament

And earthly cities cringing from the hail

Brave Atlas sweats his duty like a saint

Yet waits for Hercules to take his place

Just long enough for him to have some fun

To find a Titan nymph and sow wild oats

Before the world concludes, his sentence done

Good Atlas bears the heavens on his back

Endures his occupation like the rack

But all the while he calculates escape

From servitude to go and ride the grape

The perspiration rolls into his eyes

The sting of salt until the Titan cries

Contributing his tears to ocean brine

And wishing like the devil for the vine

Meanwhile, great Hercules has other tasks

A show of someone’s mercy all he asks

Has bigger fish to fry than Bacchus’ call

Albeit that old Atlas deems them small

Poor Titan stuck forever with his curse

Sad mortal doomed to dozen labors worse

As Atlas crouches knee deep in the sea

His rescuer is striving to be free