Eleven twenty at night.
I don’t like to consider the money aspect of things like some guys do. Indeed, the cynicism about the oligarchy etc is very trendy today. We are not what we are by virtue of our bank accounts or our sources of income. It’s a fallacy to say money makes the world go round when what really does it is love. Somebody in a high place set a bad example for everyone by replacing the ❤️ with the💲. Every situation is slow to change, particularly public opinion, but I thought I’d help it along as I can. Try dusting off the old Beatles collection and play “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” John Lennon said, paraphrased, “You in the cheap seats clap your hands, and you in the balcony just rattle your jewelry…” Maybe that’s a bit cynical too, though his intentions were good. There’s an episode in Ulysses that refers to the “foot and mouth disease,” which infects most people from time to time. More important is the recurring theme of “metempsychosis” that brings everybody together, regardless even of race or ethnicity.
“He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.”
While it sounds like nonsense, Joyce pulls off something like this with his book. The question is whether we really treat each other like family.
Six o five in the morning.
Another gray day. Funny how emotional scars can carry on for many years and burrow down into your soul. The passing of time only makes the memories richer and more meaningful because of the perspective you gain. Through love comes learning. Everyone is so different and yet so much the same. The problem I still wrestle with is metaphysics and the God thing, feeling myself to be deficient if I am non religious. I guess I missed the critical period for accepting Jesus and the whole Bible, so I should just let it go. Christianity will always be a big item. Like Thomas Hardy, I can only wish it were so… Pretty soon I’ll make a run to the store like every morning. It’s all equal to me if I get rained on today. “It’s a big enough umbrella / but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.” Yesterday was graduation day at the university, which brought back a few things for me. For a gift, my mother gave me a copy of Bartlett’s, still lying around here somewhere. She also paid my dues for membership in Phi Beta Kappa and bought my key. I used to wear it on a chain all the time but now I carry nothing around my neck. No point in being pretentious, although Mom was very proud of my achievement. I suppose I still am a little bit, too.
Seven forty. The Covid virus I had a while ago has now gone away totally. I feel better every day. At the market I saw some Mexican guys who worked for Huey & Sons Roofing and I caught a word or two of their slang. Otherwise my trip was rather dull. The overcast was not complete. There were breaks showing blue sky, very pale and luminous. I hoped for a glimpse of the moon, in vain. But I almost dreamt I could see a ladder to heaven.
Today I’m skipping the caffeine completely. It was turning into a problem with my sleep. There’s just a light rain this morning, but we get more rain than sun this June for whatever ecological reason. At one time, all I worried about was staying alive, but now I worry about more complex things. Frankly I’m tired of the stress. It’s tempting to just opt out of life one way or another. But then I’m probably not alone with the bigger picture. I’ve gone from poor to virtually penniless due to inflation. It doesn’t help when people say that the ultra rich will alone survive in the long run. Something must be done for the little guys, the paupers with nothing but the clothes on their back. My bank makes it more difficult for me. Maybe I should switch to a credit union or something. But not until I’ve paid off my credit cards, a long way away. I really need to talk to somebody at my bank, but they don’t answer the phone. I feel I’m up a creek without a paddle, but again, perhaps not alone.
Two thirty morning.
Well, I finally took the bait and ordered the DNA kit from Ancestry dot com because I’m tired of guessing about my origins or the reasons for what I do. My father was adopted and never knew his birth parents, so the genetic test is the best I can hope for. There has to be an explanation for why I have difficulty with religious traditions, especially Christianity. I believe it’s because evangelism is often forcible.
Seven thirty. Another day of clouds. Today I’ll feed Aesop prior to going to the store. I got too much caffeine yesterday and overnight. The guy who called yesterday about the flea medication tripped over my dog’s name; kind of funny, though he felt embarrassed… The treatment program I underwent long ago did a lot of damage to me. I really wish I’d never gone there, and it’s just a reminder that assertiveness is critical to everyone’s well-being. It’s water under the bridge except I have such scars from the experience. Maybe it’s an issue of forgiving them and letting it go. Pop psychology perhaps, but it’s worth a try. After all, they knew not what they did.
Five o’clock evening.
The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the lot of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its sublime immaculate abode. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet the Garden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language. The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the spray of stars in the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can almost decipher the cooing of the dove just now.
The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the yard of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its immaculate sublime. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet Eden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language… The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the astral spray of the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can nearly decipher the coo of the dove just now.
I tried to take a nap, but lying in bed, I could only hear echoes of the Steve Khan music I’d listened to very early this morning. Now I feel wooden like a zombie or some undead person. I’ll avoid Dr Pepper after this, for it kind of poisoned my system. Just before seven o’clock tonight it cleared up, giving us two hours of sunshine. Hearing Khan’s music vaguely recalls Ulysses to my mind; I was exposed to both as a senior in college, when also my mother had cancer and needed surgery. After Joyce I started reading Sons and Lovers on my own time, a beautiful book by D.H. Lawrence, back when our minds were not enslaved by a brainwashing god and government and it was okay to think and feel something human.
Much more recently I read Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf, who raises the question of whether the beauty of the world would endure or rather perish, and what will it take to preserve it. This is still an issue today, for those of us with open eyes and a feeling heart. While the world seems to be dying, we let the humanities fall to ruin: the things we used to live for that were worth living for. Woolf was undecided on this question, but I’m sure she wished for the beautiful things to last perpetually, like the trip to Greece to see the Parthenon at the end of the novel: a fitting climax and perhaps a statement of triumph for the works of humankind. So now, who’s going to write the next Jacob’s Room to answer the same question for our time?
Quarter after one.
The media is making another mistake. The more publicity they give to the mass shootings in America, the more people are going to do that just for the attention. What they are doing creates a vicious circle that spirals out of control.
But not that we shouldn’t repeal the Second Amendment.
In some countries, not even the police have firearms. It seems to work for them okay.
Why do we have to be special? The cost is too great. We stand to gain a lot by joining with the rest of the world. A Brit who was visiting Eugene said to me once, “Only in America can you have a World Series where all of the teams are American.”
We need to swallow our pride and be realistic. Other countries will call us stupid if we don’t. They call us that anyway. So don’t give them ammunition.
Quarter after five AM.
Today is a new day. The trees outside are black silhouettes against the first light with scudding lavender clouds. I look forward to playing the bass again this midday. At seven o’clock the store opens, but maybe I’ll put off my hike to when there are more people out doing things. Though on a Sunday, this could be never. I won’t go to church; it was a mistake to ever start going there. But I suppose everything has its pros and cons, and there’s a season for everything, as Ecclesiastes put it. Just not now. I don’t like it when Christians sing songs about the “perfidious Jews.” The slowest place to accept new ideas is always the Church, so I don’t have much patience with prejudice anymore. Most people need a common cause to feel righteous about, but this makes an out-group of others who disagree, and they are seen as the enemy. Pretty soon you have a situation like a war going on, or a ghetto. Ezra Pound’s project was to expose the roots of war, and he ended up blaming it on the practice of usury, or moneylending. It was probably just an excuse for his antisemitism. So much of psychology is ethnocentric these days. I’m waiting for a time when reason prevails over the religious instinct that people can’t seem to live without. I wonder if we can really do this.
Eight o five AM.
It’s supposed to be cloudy all day today. I’ve decided to take the pressure off myself to get well in a hurry, so far a good strategy. My new copy of The Joshua Tree came yesterday afternoon; I found it this morning and opened it up. The jewel case is intact and everything is shipshape. It’ll be nice to hear “In God’s Country” and “Bullet the Blue Sky” again… I’m still weighing the idea of genius and hubris versus being small and ordinary. I think we could all stand a dose of humility and realism. I got so used to over the top pomposity everywhere I turned until it grew kind of ridiculous. Maybe it’s an American thing; I don’t know. The word “meretricious” comes to my mind: all show and no substance… I bought Aesop some carrot sticks this morning because he’s overweight from so many treats. Probably he won’t acquire a taste for them, and I’ll end up eating them myself. I heard an alternative weather forecast in the marketplace today, saying sunshine this afternoon. Nobody knows anything until it actually happens. And although astrology is a fun game, it’s still entirely artificial, like a lot of things people stake their lives on for lack of knowledge. When in doubt, look and see. When you have a hypothesis, test it against reality. The best information is gathered firsthand.
Six o’clock AM.
Doing some reading in Russell’s history of philosophy serves to iconoclasm. It reminds us that philosophers such as Plato had predecessors, and every thinker gets a shot at a theory of the world and reality. But ultimately, the reality is always bigger than any human intellectual giant alone can grasp. What do we need icons for, anyway? I just wheeled my garbage and recycling to the curbside for today’s trash pickup. I suppose the garbage man has an opinion of the truth like everyone else. “Footprints in the sands of time…” This is what philosophers really are. Not one of them stands as a solitary luminary, a phenomenon out of nowhere, and yet we refer to them so casually. Every book on my shelf is a dead person’s head embalmed for posterity. Do we really need them for a point of reference? Whitman didn’t think so— but he was yet another icon. Where does it stop, and you come to grips with things as they are all by yourself?