Mouse or Man?

Three thirty.

I’m really not happy about having a PCA come to my house on Tuesday because the whole situation indicates my loss of control over my life. It’s been taken over by government agencies, these nonprofit organizations that don’t take no for an answer, but instead bulldoze over your will and your privacy. Maybe I don’t like the Democrats after all? It’s hard to say who’s in charge of the big changes since I started going to the agency in 2019. Do they really intend to be helpful or do they just want to force everyone to conform to the norms created by nobody in particular? At this juncture I don’t know what to do, though I want to assert myself in the teeth of this Big Brother thing and reclaim my self control, the right to govern my own life. While the mask mandate is going away, they still find ways to shepherd us and keep us obedient and scared. It’s as if the sun outside had to shine in chains just like every human being. 

Lawgiver

Eight o’clock in the morning.

It is mostly cloudy and under freezing right now. The sunrise made the clouds maroon and kind of ragged. Aesop prompted me to go to market, whining for a snack, so I did that. It wasn’t anything remarkable today. This winter has been a strange time for me: no church and no rock band to keep me busy. Just a lot of appointments with the agency, so I feel like a professional patient or something. I haven’t done enough fun things for me this season, for want of cash, transportation, or motivation. And I still feel as if the agency and other organizations have ruled my life rather despotically, giving me no autonomy or freedom to live life my own way. I get so used to compliance with what they want me to do, while below the surface I build up these feelings of resentment and frustration, because after all, who ordained the conduct of our lives? Are the rules prescribed in the Bible, or can I beg to differ as long as I don’t hurt anybody? Who is the lawgiver, and who says what is right and wrong? Do we need to keep the loonies on the straight and narrow? I doubt if life is really patterned after a Shakespeare play, with the cosmos being a big divine dance and everything fitting together perfectly— except for the clowns. Except for the illegitimate people. But Shakespeare didn’t make the rules either… I noticed a lot of bird life on my walk a while ago. Birds usually flock together, but humans are a bit more complex than that. And if they’re not, then they ought to be. 

Intelligent Life

Nine ten. Yesterday I tried to pay attention to details going on around me on my taxi trip to Springfield, but really, nothing was worth noting. Signs of intelligent life were few and I was unimpressed with Eugene’s sister city. Last night I dreamed that my old psychiatrist was forcing me to get vaccinated for Covid, and I fought him with all my might; a real nightmare. He represents authority to my mind, often authority gone wrong, to the extreme of malign dictatorship. Sometimes a dream shows me more about my feelings than a day’s events. The real person whose authority I’ve resisted for a long time now is the church pastor, especially since his sermon on casting out demons and comparing that to mental illness. I’ve resolved not to go back to church again. It’s difficult to deal with someone with a closed mind. Pastor is scared of biological psychology for some reason, which is very limiting to his understanding of much of life in the world. Fear motivates people to strange behavior. My own worst fear is probably a bottle of beer, and second to that, I think I’m afraid of losing my freedom to choose.

Ten o’clock. Today might be good for reading Nietzsche. I’ve grown tired of being directed what to see. Instead, I think I’ll start acting on instinct, what comes from within me. This works best when the world is in confusion. And then part of me would love to leave the country for greener pastures across the Atlantic, to someplace where intelligence still prevails. 

Weariness

Seven thirty five.

I got quite a restful sleep last night, so today is already off to a better start than yesterday. It’s the first light of dawn out. The sky looks gray with clouds, though currently there’s no rain. Amazon tells me that my new hoodie has been delivered. I ordered it in gold, and I think it should be rather pretty… I retrieved the package and put on the sweater: the color is bright and reflective. I really like it. My band will practice again today at four o’clock. We’re going to try out my new bass amp in our studio. I will run my blue Fender through it. Last night I went to church with Roxanne and did my duties of singing and reading. Pastor was downhearted and nobody was really bursting with joy. I felt tired and apathetic. Still, we got it done. Now it’s time to go to the store.

Nine ten. I encountered no one on the street; only a cat that I startled. When I approached the doors of the market, two cars pulled into the lot, but otherwise the place was pretty deserted. Or maybe the emptiness is inside of me? I thought of how we’re all forced to wear a mask in public just because someone said so. I read that the death toll from the virus has reached two million worldwide, yet it still seems kind of unreal to me; more like an exercise in obedience. It surely hasn’t been much fun. I picture myself in the parking lot of that silly little store, observing the drastic changes over the years. This is the pain of having a long memory, seeing things change irrevocably, leaving behind people and good times that I loved. You may wish to freeze and dogmatize the progress of the world, all to no avail. Time moves in one direction only. Turning back clock and calendar is denial. So we move on with the current of life… 

Bold or Foolish?

Five thirty.

I’ve learned that caffeine makes my paranoia worse, so the obvious solution is not to drink Coca-Cola. This is something I can control. Last night I had a lot of dreams, some of them very complex and emotionally distressing. Is my real life that complicated? And it’s the world beyond me that weighs on my mind as well. It’s a perplex my subconscious is trying to work out. I wonder, still, to what extent people are free in the midst of a pandemic. I had my little music jam last Thursday evening, just two guys, though now it seems I did something bold. I heard from another musician yesterday who wouldn’t have dreamed of getting together for a jam. People’s responses to the lockdown are individual and various. Perhaps I pushed the envelope a little, but I was determined to do something. My head was full of philosophy Thursday morning as I set about cleaning house. I didn’t think about how nobody else was doing music. But maybe it takes one or two people’s civil disobedience to change the general attitude. Time will tell if I did something foolish. Yet I think I will keep pushing for freedom until others get the idea. As long as it’s left up to you and me, we ought to do what is right according to our hearts. A lockdown cannot suppress the healing sound of music.

Control Again

Seven o’clock. I took a risk on Coca-Cola because I really wanted to drink beer or something else with alcohol. But I wonder why I picked now for a time to do this. I don’t feel very clever at this time. I feel disappointed in myself for being stupid. What was the stress that pushed me to do this? I shouldn’t be feeling any pressure at all, yet something has been bugging me since the heatwave hit us. Life seems out of control, or rather out of my own control, and maybe by drinking I believe that I could seize some power over events. At least, this is what makes sense to me. It used to be that drinking was one of the freedoms available to me, and by doing so I could assert my control over my life. In the face of everyone who said I mustn’t drink, I stubbornly persisted in doing it in order to be independent and free. Rebellion is absurd sometimes. We go to self destructive extremes in the name of freedom and power over our own lives. What is the contrary of rebellion— obedience? But what is it that we must obey? And this line of inquiry will lead me to Milton’s Paradise Lost. I never bothered to read the whole poem, but perhaps I should.

Comply or Defy?

Seven thirty five.

It appears that I volunteered myself for mental slavery when I joined Our Redeemer. I did the same thing with treatment in 2003, and came out of it feeling resentful and rebellious. The pandemic has broken the spell on me of the church, so now I have to decide which way to go. Is alcoholism really a criminal thing, or is that only more brainwashing? How can society incriminate a genetic disease? I’ve gotten tired of feeling like a bad person. My brother feels the same way. Yet he has become a lawbreaker in a worse way than myself. He even told me once that rules are made to be broken. His face was stone when he said that, his voice acid. His addiction was doing something to him. And again, it’s very difficult to tell whether the laws of society are founded in absolutes or rather fictions. We see the effects of ideas on behavior, but not the truth of the ideas per se. This reminds me of a dream I had this morning about Rudolf Carnap. I was having a serious discussion with Kate about the verifiability of morals. Carnap wrote that propositions such as “killing is wrong” are not empirically verifiable. Kate had a hard time defending herself. In reality, the debate is really with myself. Part of me would like to drink beer again. This is the bottom line. The intellectualization is over and beyond the real issue. But why am I tempted to drink? It has something to do with the lockdown. I would probably drink in order to assert my freedom. To defy authority for telling me what I cannot do. Luckily, some changes are happening Friday.

The Puppet Master

One o’clock. My conscience accuses me of being lazy, as it often does. Should I obey what it says? My family doesn’t care what I do, so maybe my conscience is illegitimate. I didn’t understand where Carmen was coming from with her speeches about control. To me, it just sounded like marketplace cliches. The language she used didn’t speak to me. I believe she was trying to say that I ought to conform to the norms all around me. The ones we observe on television and in the movies. But she couldn’t express herself very well. I heard something vague about control, and how this was a bad thing. Why couldn’t she just say what she meant? What is the alternative to being a control person? I asked her that, but she had no answer. I came away with the impression that Carmen didn’t know what she was talking about. It was kind of like the parent who doesn’t know the answer when her child asks her why. Why conform to what everyone else does? And who set the trend for everybody? No one knows, yet people agree with the herd and follow along, lowing and bleating like cattle. Who is the King of the Media? Somewhere there is such a person directing the puppet show. It would be sort of like an Ayn Rand novel. Who is John Galt?

Two thirty. I can see Carmen’s face in my mental eye. She said once that I was doing pretty good. At least I don’t drink anymore. The rain meanwhile has stopped. Probably a lot of people would say that God is the puppeteer, and that it’s diabolical to rebel. I don’t know about the supernatural— still. Why am I such a minority? Am I just a miscreant? Am I alone in having doubts? What became of Kate; where did all my agnostic friends go? Would they return if I went back to drinking? I consider my old friend Marc the guitarist. He wanted nothing to do with me when he learned that I had joined a church and stopped drinking. Strange how that works. I’m on the fence with my beliefs… I haven’t seen the inside of Polly’s house in many years. I saw the outside of it maybe five years ago, when we had my birthday lunch at Burrito Boy. I was still driving my truck, and picked her up. She had tried to weasel out of lunch by saying her van had troubles. But I forced the meetup. Over the meal, I told her I thought I was a nicer person when I could drink. It was before I ever had gastritis from drinking… Today, it doesn’t matter what I do, Polly avoids me anyway. And just what if the puppeteer is God? Was that what Carmen tried to say? Except, I think she lacked faith herself. That’s why she was so unconvincing. And as I write, here comes the sun, if only for a moment.

Hyperbole

Quarter of three. It is very cold inside the house. I’m not sure why I got up for a few minutes. All the world’s asleep and the questions run so deep for such a simple man. Yet I’m not simple at all, in the eyes of other people. My family can’t figure me out, but I think I have them pegged. As I’ve said before, I’m a conventional intellectual just as they are conventional cowboys. Everyone is a stereotype, and we are molded that way by education and other modes of society. It isn’t anybody’s fault; it was the monster. The big machine makes us what we are. It gives us a few options along the way, but what we are is ultimately determined by precisely those choices. It is much like choosing the words to write on this tablet even this very moment. It makes me want to be a Luddite and break all machines; sneak into the factories in the dead of night and do the dirty deed. Human beings are not as stupid as society believes we are. The best we can do is start from scratch, break the old molds and defy tradition as much as possible. We need to be our own option makers. We need to esteem value for ourselves, and again from scratch. Perhaps I’m only writing this for myself? But no: the machines are taking over humanity and it’s up to you and me to do something about it. Together we must rise and read our D H Lawrence and read the writing on the wall. Someday our humanity will be completely extinct, all the red blood sucked out of our vessels, all our spontaneous instinct destroyed, our brains chipped and bionic. The Age of the Cyborg is upon us, as corny as this sounds. What are you going to do about it?

Maverick?

I don’t trust anyone to know anything important, so is that the basis of the schizophrenia? I once trusted my psychiatrist’s opinions, but when he insulted me I left him. Implicitly I still refer to him for answers. But it also turned out that he was withholding information from me regarding my meds. The antipsychotic I was on eventually gave me arrhythmia and occasioned a hospital stay. Then I began to perceive Dr T— as a dictator. Ever since, no authority figure has been stable for me. Kate disapproved when I wanted to fire him— but by and by I left her too. I’ve been just a maverick after that. The only truth I know is rooted in my past with the two of them, and it was scientific certainty… Dr T— was my shrink for twenty five years, then when he called me a homeless bum on three occasions I finally rebelled in a big way. Perhaps I did the wrong thing, and my sister would take his side just as Kate did? I only know that all the certainty in my life has been shaken to the foundation, and the only one who can repair the damage is myself. But there’s an exception to the things going wrong, and that is the sobriety I’ve managed to pull off since firing my psychiatrist. Is this just a coincidence?