I just remembered a book I started reading in fall of 2017, by Rupi Kaur, titled The Sun and Her Flowers. I only bought it because it was a top bestseller on Amazon and I was curious to know about current trends in thought. The main thing I observed was how the poet cut herself off from men altogether. But it doesn’t stop there. I also read Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich and found a similar attitude of isolation and radical privacy in the female protagonist. And just a few days ago I scanned some writing by Le Guin and saw how she blamed testosterone for war.
On my receipts from the veterinary hospital, the description of my dog no longer says “male neuter;” it says “castrated.”
Now, considering all the above, and the fact that I’m a guy, it puts me in a very strange position.
If you were a rational and fair minded woman, what would you say in response to these observations?
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. However, nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and beliefs, and persuasions, all hard things visible and invisible, never mind how knobby; as an ostrich of potent digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster, peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker. That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what just before might have seemed to him a thing most momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke. There is nothing like the perils of whaling to breed this free and easy sort of genial, desperado philosophy; and with it I now regarded this whole voyage of the Pequod, and the great White Whale its object.
Herman Melville, from Moby Dick, Ch 49, “The Hyena”
At last the mood of the day is mellowing out as I relax and kind of coast the rest of it. I haven’t thought anything very deep today, and my feelings were up hill and down dale, peaks and troughs from the time I got up this morning. I believe there’s something wrong with this situation, and maybe what began as schizophrenia has changed to a mood disorder like bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. I think it’s true that everything is in constant flux, even if we need something eternal and immutable to keep ourselves grounded and stable: the one necessitates the other. To be honest, I don’t feel so intelligent lately and can’t offer any wisdom; and besides that, I was never all that smart to begin with. It’s the first of the month and Pastor retires on the 25th, so as a result I feel kind of rudderless and lost when there’s nothing to respond to anymore. The biggest shock of all is finding that my delusions have mostly gone away. My life today is not like life 15 years ago. The present is inevitably the present; and probably every attempt to box up the facts of life or sandwich them in the covers of a book will ultimately fall short. The only thing like a true almanac is the body of work by Waldo Emerson, or more like a Declaration of Independence for American writers and thinkers. He was the pioneer, and everything else has been a postscript or appendix to the main messages of self reliance and firsthand experience.
Five thirty AM.
I’ve about had it with my sister. I won’t call her on the phone this week. She claims to be a Christian, but there’s a good way and a bad way to be a Christian. Her interpretation of the Bible turns Jesus into a figure of hate instead of a loving savior. The Jesus that some people understand is a lover and a forgiver, and, like Gandhi, a pacifist (turn the other cheek). But my sister’s Jesus is a terrible judge of gay people and anyone else who doesn’t fit the mold.
Maybe Jesus is a dummy people manipulate to express their own values, their loves and their hates, to give these more power (my Jesus can beat up your Jesus).
I’ve heard some off the wall sermons in the past three years. The first ones I listened to were actually pretty good, emphasizing the qualities of love and forgiveness, exemplified by Jesus Christ himself. After Covid, something went wrong for my church. And today it’s weird to see a few members supporting the pastor. Generally speaking, it’s quite a mess, plus the story is different depending on whom you hear it from.
I haven’t been to church since January and can’t really say anything with certainty. As for my sister, bigotry is not my style.
I prefer to liken Jesus to a pacifist like Gandhi and maybe leave the Old Testament behind. I can’t agree with making him an agent of hate.
The whole thing is too complicated for words.
I went to the little store just now, and again Lisa asked me if I was getting enough food to eat; so I asked her curiously if Suk would do anything if I answered no. She said she didn’t know about him, but she would do something… With Kim in mind, I bought still another Ty stuffed animal: a little white owl with a big funny beak and a clueless expression on its face. The Ty toys are one sign that some people still care about each other, even if our government is cold and corrupt and doesn’t give a damn for the citizens. In this regard, the USA now resembles the more authoritarian countries in the world and seems less like a democracy. The next vote will probably be a joke, down to the same old clowns, while people are not credited with having any intelligence at all. God help you if you’re the invisible person on the street. You just ask yourself what in the world is wrong with society.
My dog is very vocal for his breakfast, finally barking at me to feed him… Done.
In the market parking lot I saw a red Nissan truck with a canopy, 90s vintage, that made me think of my old green pickup which I couldn’t afford to maintain anymore: so I sold it to some drunkard for a humiliating price and now I’m stuck without a car.
You can’t have everything you want, so be happy with what you do have. And if you have something, by all means keep it.
I had a bad dream last night that went on for several hours. In it, I agreed to take an SAT test to demonstrate my knowledge and intelligence. But it turned out that the test was so full of codes and boobytraps that I couldn’t get past the first question. So I suffered through this dream, feeling shame for incompetence and stupidity, until after I awoke and gave it some thought. Maybe it wasn’t about incompetence as much as about the inscrutability of life, and I made a connection with the book of Job, where he is forced to acknowledge his utter ignorance. When he does this, his life is restored to him many times over. It’s like the theme of vanity in Ecclesiastes, another book of wisdom in the Bible.
All this from a silly nightmare of taking an aptitude test and failing big. I may even be wrong about the interpretation, yet this fact only makes a stronger case for vanity. Was it ever possible for a human being to know everything? Never before and never in after-time.
Meanwhile it’s a beautiful morning of mild sunshine, which is knowledge enough for a mortal man.
The music I hear mentally is “Duchess” from an old Genesis album. The introduction to it is exquisite, in E flat I believe, with a lot of keyboard by Tony Banks… I’ve been reflecting on what my job in life must be; it seems to me that it’s to remind people of the importance of a holiday: to be happy and to spread the happiness around. The school of Epicureanism goes back to Greek antiquity, one of the Hellenistic philosophies that succeeded the golden age of Aristotle. I just think that everyone deserves some joy. My PCA Gloria started out quite Republican, though now she looks forward to a break with a Snapple tea while we have a little chat. I suppose that Stoicism has its place in daily life as well as the other school, yet I think that Epicureanism is oddly underrepresented today. People work their fannies off, taking little time to simply breathe and appreciate being alive and human. We are extremely fortunate to be born human beings, as a professor of Japanese religions told the class a long time ago. It’s always good to pause and be contemplative and enjoy the fruits of human thought. It was actually Aristotle who said the highest aim of ethics is pure reflection: it’s something that modern people wouldn’t consider on a bet. I wonder why this is. Why are we so different from the ideals of the Greeks? Can nothing that is golden ever stay?
We always leave El Dorado for fool’s gold in the outside world…
Quarter of seven.
It was six o’clock when I hiked to market, and my right foot stabbed me with pain a few times. I saw no one else outdoors although the birds were all very awake and raising a racket. Above me, the clouds were scalloped small and gray on blue sky and westward I heard crazy cars on the highway. If I focus hard enough I might recollect my thoughts. Anyway: yesterday I learned the names of the neighbors in Derek’s old house, and they told me he had a job in Oakridge and had bought a house there. Not that it matters much, because I think those neighbors are Skinheads, judging by the truck parked at the curb with Confederate plates. True, that was two years ago, but a leopard doesn’t change its spots overnight… The rest of my promenade was very ordinary, banal, and boring, and now the sunshine is going away. But at ten I’ve got Gloria and we had planned a trip to the bottle drop in Springfield today. I look forward to that, even though an excursion to Springfield is a voyage back in time thirty years. Maybe that’s why I like it. Aesop barks for his breakfast. Life today is a mixed up mess, especially in a place like Oregon.
It’s a cloudy morning, though not a solid sheet of overcast; you can make out individual clouds, gray and white. At 6:30 I hoofed it to the store; now it seems like forever ago. Just a typical trip, nothing exciting. Life generally feels dull, having lost its luster, and I see people chasing after the bucks every day, no one really happy or making an effort to give each other pleasure. The only exception is the little Ty stuffed animals you find in stores, which you give your friends or family to appreciate them. Otherwise the times are cold and joyless as everyone keeps to herself, closed and expressionless, exchanging only money and material things. It might be easier for a person who has a lot of money to thrive today, but the poverty of love affects everybody. No one really feels what community means nowadays. Again it’s not like the world of James Joyce. I suppose that I am just another statistic, a symptom of everything going on. If half of Americans don’t believe in God today, then I’m just one of them; a simple fact of sociology and demographics. But there’s something wrong with this point of view, as the poet W.H. Auden indicates in “The Unknown Citizen.” Every person is an individual with original feelings and thoughts, with a life to live, and one chance at fulfillment and passion. Deny a person that, and the soul of the world is shot to hell.
So far, I’m not having a good day…
Quarter of three AM.
Years ago, in a weak moment, I sold my box set of The Great Deceiver, a collection of live recordings by King Crimson. I remember how carefully the clerk at CD World examined each of the four discs to determine condition and value. In fact, they were immaculate. She finally offered me $30 for them, or maybe $35. Originally I had paid twice that for the new box set, and at the time, I didn’t have internet, so my friend Roger ordered it for me from the DGM website. My mother had just passed away. But I resorted to selling it around 2010 to support my alcoholism.
The longer I live and experience life, the more I doubt that a delusion is really a delusion. When I was younger, I had lots of bizarre superstitions, yet they were no stranger than the beliefs I see in other people; and such thoughts exist in our language and culture. I think the difference is that to a psychotic person, delusions are reality, and are felt as palpably as the literal objects and things around him. Other people can refer to religious ideas and laugh at them, and scoff and make fun because the words are not real to them. These ideas have mere subsistence in the language we use. Yet in a schizophrenic’s mind, the unreal assumes a reality like the experience of a waking dream or nightmare. The only remedies are medication and the passing of time. To persist and to endure.