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Ten twenty five.

Aesop and I slumbered in this morning, and my brain was full of ominous and obscure thoughts. But when I finally got up, the world was kind to me. I had 13 emails unread and my trip to the market went fine. It was warm enough out for me to go without a jacket. The rain won’t start until around two o’clock, and then it’ll be constant for another week or more. The day is gray and green punctuated by trees that are turning gold or red. My brother has been on my unconscious mind lately, and what a pity how he is alienated from the family. I was thinking of him when I picked up a book of writings of naturalism. I might read more of it today; I have plenty of time today for reading or whatever. Aesop was hungry and scarfed down his breakfast with gusto a little while ago. A shaft of sunlight hits the ground under the magnolia tree. On the street I passed a couple of cats, a gray one and one black and white. A tree frog creeks in my backyard. I also saw two doves perched on the power lines behind a house on my street. I thought of climate change and its effects on the wildlife here and everywhere. When the food supply runs short, birds and animals go where it is more plentiful— obviously. So we see species in town we’d never seen before: woodpeckers and doves, for example. Wild turkeys can be seen around the city, especially Downtown… It looks like a good day ahead; I even anticipate the rain expected this afternoon. Aesop wants a peanut butter cookie, which I’ll give him presently. 

Red Oak

Four ten in the morning.

I can hear it raining right now. Yesterday I noticed how the oak tree is beginning to drop its leaves, which now are a deeper gold before they turn to burgundy. My brother used to say he remembered when Mom planted that tree, sometime in the Seventies, and today it towers over the whole neighborhood, an arboreal giant. Many of the leaves fall in my neighbor’s backyard and onto the roof of his shed, but he doesn’t say anything. When life was less harmonious for me with my sister, I didn’t appreciate the red oak; but currently it gives me some happiness to think of the leaves it has shed every year since my mother passed away. I tend to forget that trees are living things because they don’t move around the way animals do, and that’s very foolish of me. Every cell of every tree has a nucleus that serves as its brain and intelligence, and every tree has to breathe like you and me. The only difference is that they breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, which benefits us who breathe oxygen.

My brother was quite a naturalist when I knew him last, or rather he was torn between this and civilization. He was always at home in the woods or at the coast, the mountains, or wherever it was pure wilderness without the taint of humankind. I wonder if someday he might just vanish in the woods with a fishing pole and a few beers? 

Nature First and Last

Six o five.

I had a dream a bit ago about playing the bass guitar to please my parents. I bargained with my dad, saying that after my gig I wanted to drink an amount of beer and then go to bed. He permitted a 750 ml can of Foster’s, so I went into the grocery store… but I changed my mind and came out empty handed. I also looked in the southwestern night sky and saw the full moon, symbolic to me of idealism, of dreams and ambition, and thought I couldn’t betray it by drinking again… The dawn is coming up gray through my front window. I hear the screech of some perching bird and the caw of a crow. Last night I indulged a few mystical thoughts on my transformation from a “Greek” to a Christian. And it actually rained briefly at around midnight. Today there are no big pressures on me. I think my sister may be having a difficult time dealing with her oldest son’s politics. Evidently he’s been blithering stuff lately about a “civil war” of red against blue. Others in the family are also politically polarized. I think we have enough problems with the pandemic and with climate change to be preoccupied with politics. I feel tired and even kind of nauseous upon hearing this news. I don’t understand how some people can make politics logically prior to the ecology. This is just backwards, I think. It’s like saying, “We don’t use language, language uses us.” It inverts the commonsense order of things.

Quarter after seven. Nature came first, and everything else is the artifice of human beings. The future depends not on our fictions, but ultimately on the fact of the natural world. Things like money, religion, and politics are constructs of human imagination. So I guess I’ll never really be a Christian, or anyway, not a very good one. We’re in trouble when our fictions are more real to us than nature. 

“So Much Depends Upon…”

Seven thirty.

I’m of half a mind to cancel my trip to the agency this morning. The more I think about it, the more it becomes a certainty… The dispatch office doesn’t open until eight o’clock… My walk to the market was uneventful, but I observed that Michelle was in a pretty good mood today. Very early this morning I ordered The Essential Plotinus, then went back to bed and dreamed about discussing it with Pastor and a few people from church. Supposedly Plotinus is the bridge between Plato and modern Christianity. I won’t know for sure until I read it myself, but the prospect sounds fascinating. Pastor has said that my thinking is similar to the Greeks, though I don’t know how much stock to put in that assessment… It’s going to be another day of cooler temperatures, continuing for the next week.

Eight forty. I guess I’m kind of torn on the existence of the Ideal. Is it really the truth that a trapdoor in the heavens could spring open and a red dragon come flying out, and so on? Is Christianity a “revealed” religion or did people just make it up? And is the imagination intuitive or rather merely creative? If I knew the answers then I wouldn’t be asking these questions. I can tell you what I wish was true, but I think the simplest explanations are the most accurate: and materialism is very simple. The origin of every art form is mimetic; it imitates nature and natural things. Cavemen made paintings of hunting wild beasts on the walls. The first musicians whacked a hollow tree trunk with a stick to emulate thunder. And then, language acquires abstractness with use over time, but the underpinnings are still the literal stuff. The very word “matter” is related to the Latin for “mother.” Everything depends on it, like the world on the red wheelbarrow. 

Natural Science

As I write it is 100 degrees out and 85 degrees inside the house. It’s making me feel lightheaded and kind of dopey, but it could be a lot worse. Also there’s some smoke in the air from wildfires around in Oregon. This morning I noticed how the sun was a big copper ball through the haze. Not very pretty, though there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The firefighters are doing the best they can… And so to Keats. Endymion is only about 30 pages long. I was thinking earlier about the difference between reality and truth. Now I don’t know again; the eternal beautiful and true probably doesn’t exist simply because it is a thing that flatters human senses and makes us feel good. It’s hard for me to believe in anthropocentric ideas right now. They are fictions made up by people to validate themselves— and that’s exactly why they are not true from a perspective of science and nature, or even philosophy. Maybe this is difficult for some people to understand. The natural world doesn’t revolve around humankind, and really our existence came about by a happy accident. Human beings are incredibly vain. We think the world is here for us to plunder, even as it’s described in the book of Genesis. Adam names the animals he is to live with, etc etc. I don’t believe this is true at all. And so with Keats, there’s this idea of a beautiful truth tailor made for people to enjoy. I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. We have to get along with nature on its own terms, not in human terms. Our failure to do this will make our lives more difficult than ever in the future.

So I guess my faith in poetry has dwindled for the time being. It just seems irrelevant to me anymore when I can see our ecology going down the tubes, and all because of our shortsighted selfishness. Science has gone from geocentric to heliocentric and now to the center of the universe being merely a hypothetical point in space. And at that center you will not find a human being.

I suppose science really is rather hard for people to grasp because of its objectivity and remoteness from human things, especially when you look at astronomy and physics. It leaves you feeling rather cold and uncomfortable… It makes me want to dust off my old textbooks on biology and astronomy again. It’s quite a different place from church or from WordPress.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 95 degrees. After Saturday it’s going to cool down somewhat.

Secrets of the Morning

Seven o five.

It’ll probably be another beautiful day, though this morning the atmosphere is breathless. The street is partly decorated with drawings in colored chalk by children of the renters in Lori’s house. Some of the scribbles pertain to a game that only kids would understand. I encountered no cats or squirrels; no living things at all but for the humans at the little market… and a few black crows when I first opened my front door. They were quiet, and now I hear no birdsongs. The store was pretty busy at a quarter of seven. Everyone’s face was bare— until further notice. Right now there’s a squirrel on the roof. The church has reinstated the policy of wearing masks, so for that reason I stayed home yesterday. Last night I skipped my medication; as a result, I feel better today, more natural and easygoing. I told myself that today I wouldn’t rebuke myself for anything, but would bypass every feeling of guilt or shame. 

Again my neglected Nietzsche book crosses my mind, Zarathustra with its difficult aphorisms that somehow stay with me; not the words verbatim, but the lessons. Are there any existential therapists in my area? The closest one would be a hundred miles away. The city of Eugene still lags behind the rest of the world, offering very few options in terms of counseling. Everything is either Jung or cognitive therapy. I’ve heard only one therapist bring up phenomenology, which seemed to be the cutting edge of psychology.

I don’t know much this morning; I saw nothing new on my trip. Nothing except the cryptic games of children etched in the road. Even the crows were taciturn when I stepped outside. 

Family and Fowl

Eight forty.

I fed Aesop early today. I’m beginning to stress about leaving him here while I go to my band practice, if we decide to do that today. The dog was in such a bad mood yesterday from my absences on Wednesday and Thursday. Very pouty, and he even snarled at me last night… Well now it’s a date set in stone: rehearsal at one o’clock. Maybe Aesop will forgive me. The high temperature might be 95 degrees. I’m getting rather sick of blue sky every day and no sign of any precipitation. You start to wonder if it’ll ever rain again, and will autumn ever come. I hear sparrows and falling acorns out back. Tried calling my sister again with no answer. My guess is her son is probably home. He and I don’t get along together very well; but the whole family thing is stupid and really out of my hands. I wrote them off when I quit drinking almost four years ago. I have no control over family nor the power to change the situation. But at least they also have no power over me. It’s not like they made a little voodoo doll of me for sticking pins in; we don’t cast spells on each other back and forth like two teams of wizards. Right now, as I write, there’s no one in the room with me but for Aesop. The rest is my imagination.

Nine thirty five. I’ve been through a lot of things since 2017 and seen so many faces, heard many stories. I guess none of it was wasted time as it’s part of the same learning experience. Still there are some things I wouldn’t want to repeat. Even now, there are circumstances I’d rather get out of and risk going it on my own…

I just observed a pair of sparrows on the grass, copulating like crazy. It appears that all of nature is in a state of confusion, unless mating season is supposed to be yearlong for these birds. I dunno, but I suspect foul play. 

Life

Nine twenty five.

It’s almost time for Aesop’s breakfast. I feel rather edgy this morning, perhaps because of my back pain. The oak tree in my backyard has begun losing acorns all over the place, as it does every year. Heather at the store told me today is her clean and sober birthday: three years. She said she feels really excited about that.

Summers are always a bit difficult for me; they make me feel impulsive and vulnerable to my emotions. Aristotle taught that emotions are not trustworthy, so people should put on the armor of reason against them. I think that’s rather extreme, if not impossible to pull off. Probably emotions are closer to the natural truth of life. Masking them with reason is to be contrived and artificial— and then again, feeling and reason may prove to be a false dichotomy. I have a weakness for dichotomous thinking, always trying to determine either/or situations, when the wise person marries opposites together so that black and white blend to gray. 

Anyway, the sun dominates the blue sky and the high today should be 90 degrees again. Across the street from me, Roger is puttering with a project while the mail carrier just brought me a package… I did some research online regarding The Winter’s Tale, and now I’m resolved to read it again for the issue of art and nature. Also, I’ve only read The Tempest once, so it’s on my reading list too.

Quarter of eleven. Another thing I see is that my rose bush is blooming again, though it makes more sense to call it my mother’s rose bush, since she planted it and because even in my mind it symbolizes immortality for her sake. Whatever may come and go, this rose bush endures everything, just like the generations of people and their brainchildren over the expanse of time. Some say that life is a frail thing, others that it is unstoppable: I agree with those who say life is very strong. 

The Road to Our Redeemer

Nine twenty.

Some days my shots miss the target wide by a mile, and yet my misses are part of the overall journey of discovery. I believe the dartboard is movable depending on public opinion, so really it’s of no consequence to me… Owing to loneliness, I had a rather crap day. Is it a case of self pity when you admit how lousy you feel? But I was never a stoic kind of person. Band practice was canceled as I anticipated, so that means I’ll spend the weekend by myself unless I go to church Sunday. I guess I’ll write a check to God and make an appearance with the assembly. It just seems like pounding money down a rathole, because I think I’m basically an atheist— but for the human spirit, the human community. Only in my earliest memories do I feel any connection with the Jungian God, an evocation difficult to reproduce today with all my factual clutter. The connection Wordsworth had with Nature was simplistic; he had to clear his mind totally to feel the presence of the divine from the countryside. So, is it really possible to commune with a God in a cityscape of harsh angles, ugly power and telephone lines crisscrossing the sky, whizzing motorcars sending up pollution to the moon, and amid the loud hum of everything electrical? I think it was Thoreau in Walden who wrote a grotesque description of the railroad with the black beastly locomotive intruding on the natural scene. And some people argue that nature and artifice are a false dichotomy! I wonder how they can maintain that point of view after reading a book like Walden?… And so I’ll go to church on Sunday, walking the backstreets to unromantic Maxwell Road, where I might find the graffiti of the prophets written on the sidewalk. 

Sublunar Tuesday

Quarter of eight.

A few hours ago I was able to watch the full moon through a gap in the wispy clouds. Since then it started raining again. I often forget that the moon is always there whether it’s visible or not. Some cultures associate the moon with reason because it reflects the sunlight, but to me it symbolizes imagination and madness, hence the word “lunacy.” It should be a fairly easy jaunt over to the store this morning, though some days I don’t feel very motivated. And it’s very odd to realize how long my parents have been gone. In December it will be twenty years for my mother, yet here I still am. I believe the last word of Moby Dick is “orphan.” Perhaps many of us feel that way, orphaned by the universe that doesn’t care. The rain comes and goes with variable force, and soon I have to go out in it. Gray days really bring out the green of the flora. Life thrives on the rain and sun. We could use even more rainfall this year in Oregon…

Nine o’clock. The rain was light. I didn’t take my umbrella, and just wore a black raincoat with the hood up. I waited as a huge school bus crossed my path on Fremont. When I got to the market, the customer ahead of me had her card declined twice and finally succeeded on the third try. Other than that I didn’t notice much. The big Tuesday shipment of food was sitting by the freezer, waiting to be unpacked. Probably Cathy and Suk will take care of that later this morning. I saw a little snail on the sidewalk and thought of picking it up just for fun. But people would’ve believed I was crazy or stupid, so I left the snail to struggle on the concrete.