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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Nine o’clock. I didn’t realize the depth of what I wrote above. It dawned on me after I googled Milgram for a refresher. It raises for me the whole question of who’s the authority in any situation. And, is the leadership benign? In the case of getting my house back, the authority may well be myself, since I own the house. But it wasn’t me who gave me the advice to rattle some cages and jerk some chains. In this light, I myself was obedient to my sister and my neighbor. I further looked back on my therapy experience with Sheryl less than two years ago. If I had taken her verdict on my sexuality to heart and acted on it, whose would’ve been the blame for a bad outcome? And who was the authority, Sheryl or myself? As it happened, I seized the power out of her hands and left sessions. I still think her belief in sadomasochism was misguided and misguiding, so I had every right to chuck therapy with her. But it was an example of the balance of power between everyday people. The ideal social transactions are equal and rational, as in a forum for discussion. Many people aren’t aware of an alternative to domination and submission these days. It’s a sad state of affairs, and if I had any say, I would educate people about Transactional Analysis…