Something and Nothing

Four thirty five. I did a little bit of book shelving while hearing the sound of Jo jamming up the street. I’m not tempted to go play because Jo isn’t serious about music. He drinks and smokes weed while practicing. Late last night I found my readers of Derrida and Foucault and peered into the first. I could make only a little sense of the writing, but it falls under the category of philology. I got a feeling of there being no difference between being and non being in Derrida, of a present absence and an absent presence, and all of it in the interstices, the spaces between words and lines. It seems to me like the ultimate nihilism, reducing all something to nothing. He makes private thinking seem dependent on signs, but he says that thinking in solitude is impossible. It was Paul Bowles’ character Port Moresby who said that the difference between something and nothing is nothing. To me, this is sheer blasphemy, and I pick up the same attitude from Derrida; also from Sartre, and before him, Mallarme. How can something be nothing and vice versa? It is like the concept of black light, or black sunlight. The idea of being from non being, or from nothingness, strikes me as abominable because it goes against Christian theology. There’s supposed to be a Light of the world, and the Light is Christ, and it is a positive something, not nothing. It is affirmation not negation, a powerful yes declaration… Jo’s little jam is still going on, as it sometimes does on Sundays. Is the universe a friendly place? Einstein raises the question, but hasn’t the answer. I had a friend once who liked Paul Bowles and was drawn to the darker nuances of music. His concept of God was a single being with both light and dark modes along a continuum. It was his AA God— and I couldn’t agree with it. God to me was all light, and the darkness was the devil. The two were not continuous, but dichotomous and separate. My idea was essentially Christian, and perhaps for that reason my friend and I broke it off. Nor did I join AA years later, but a Christian church, and it appears to be working for me.

One Foot Out the Door

Quarter of five. Mom had no faith and no hope. But I don’t have to be like her. Dad was more optimistic, so I want to use him for a model. Think about Stravinsky again, as I did before Christmas. Do some classical music. Dad’s influence was healthier. I love The Firebird and the way I felt in 1993, at Christmas time. I loved Fifth Pearl Shops, the Music Gourmet especially. My dad wasn’t the jerk my family deemed him to be. I got into classical music big time from that Christmas on.

Five forty. I scheduled the ride to Mark’s house no problem. Pickup time is six thirty: perfect. This jam should be a lot of fun. Jeez, Mom really had problems with her outlook. Negativity is the root of mental illness I think. Nobody can live like that without severe consequences. Mom needed help. Life is supposed to be happy and good. Mom defeated herself with her pessimism all the time. It was fear, but it was unfounded… In ten minutes I’m putting my stuff outside and waiting for my taxi. Remember that people are nice and not evil as my mom used to think. Money can corrupt people, as can alcohol and drugs. But mostly human nature is pretty good.

Best Therapy

I know I won’t drink again, but I’m still going through a lot of pain. There never seems to be a break in the monotonous chaos. Three o’clock. Partly what’s wrong is I’ve lost my faith that everything works out okay. This kind of faith is very important for getting through life. I shouldn’t have reread about Quentin’s suicide in The Sound and the Fury. It made a deep impact on me, so now I have to repair the damage. The book is beautifully written but the message is nihilistic until you get to the final section. Gloom and doom are not for me. Optimism is the way to go. Where did I learn the Panglossian stuff? From church and from Suzanne, I think. And Shakespeare wanted to believe in comic endings where everything turns out well. My mother was a pessimist and this impeded her from going anywhere. She had no faith in happy endings. Joe is finished with the mantle, mostly. It looks nice. I’m feeling better now since I identified the cause of my depression. Faulkner was toxic to my wellbeing, and that made me want to drink again. Maybe things really do turn out for the best. This was the best therapy I could’ve learned.

Quentin Compson

Seven forty. I finished the second section of The Sound and the Fury. It was really good, but sad because it’s a suicide. I’m a little thrown because I studied at the university before I ever went to church. It should be the reverse order. But then, I’ve always been unconventional. So now I view Faulkner through a lens of church experience and it’s totally different. Suicide is never cool to a Christian mind. Religious people keep a mentality of optimism no matter what, while Faulkner expresses despair and futility in this novel. If I had been that hopeless over two years ago, I would’ve chosen to die; but I didn’t. I chose to live, regardless of what beliefs I would have to espouse. Staying alive was more important than the ideas in my head. I was game for anything, and it saved my life to try something new. It wouldn’t have benefited me to fall back on my college education when my life was at stake. Or anyway, authors like Joyce, Woolf, or Faulkner didn’t have the answer. What saved me was a vague hope that everything could be different now. And realizing that, as Sandburg wrote, the past is a bucket of ashes. I didn’t care what it cost me mentally or socially, I was determined to live. Thus my gut reaction to Quentin’s suicide is to try to rewrite the book.


Quarter of two. Every time Dominic and I meet at the Even Hotel, Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” can be heard on the PA. It’s a song of 1989, which for me is meaningful because in the fall of that year I also studied James Joyce. I know it’s only my own mind putting stuff together, but what a great thing! My soul longs for joy and happiness after eons of guilt and despair. Could it be that life can finally be as I desire it? The fact is that people are always free within a certain set of circumstances. Moreover, we can choose our emotions at any given time. Happiness comes from inside. And then, to what extent we can, we change the world around us. Some situations will always be sad, but we have the freedom not to go there. Memories of my mother make me happy. It doesn’t matter that my siblings despised her. My life isn’t theirs to control. The only soul living inside my body is me. And I alone am the arbiter and judge of value. All of us are alone with our lives, yet alone together. Sometimes there are connections when everything makes sense. Voila Janet Jackson, James Joyce, and job search with Dominic at the Even Hotel…

Ultraviolet and Infrared

Eight o’clock. The varieties of human experience and all the different kinds of people always keep me entertained. If I don’t let them get me down, I can find humans fascinating and enjoyable. Of course I am one of them, but I usually observe others from the sidelines. I feel that the illness makes me a pariah, someone shunned to some degree. I realize that I could be wrong. Also I keep writing about mental illness openly in an effort to add more colors to the rainbow. Not that an illness is a good thing, yet it is a genetic condition that characterizes a certain group of people. We are united in our struggle to live in spite of the odds against us. People with disabilities are absolutely a rainbow group. I saw a man with dwarfism yesterday noon. He strolled along on his way to Laurel Hill, intent and unsmiling. I was waiting for my taxi in the parking lot when he appeared from the direction of the neighboring hotel. I would’ve smiled at him had he looked at me. My city is growing bigger, and as it does, the population of the disabled increases. I hope it continues to expand and educate people on how to get along with each other. I love taking the taxi to my appointments and pretending I didn’t grow up in Eugene. The number of new hotels in town is really rising, and new apartment complexes keep sprouting up. And then you arrive at my house, the vivid yellow one with white trim; the only one like it on my street; the one that broadcasts some kind of message, as bold as the rainbow people you meet more and more frequently. My house is the one that says, Yes, liberals are welcome here; and, Conservatives, don’t stay.

Thank You 🙏

Charlie turned on the water heater today: it works. He said there’s some black goo in the water, so run the hot water for a while first before getting in it. I just need a shower curtain setup and then I can take a shower. Polly offered to take me to Bi Mart to get a couple of things. We can do that Saturday. I told her I’d call her Friday after twelve o’clock. It may not be so dreadful after all this weekend. Friday morning is also salon day: I get to hang out with the girls. After the weekend, Aesop will just have to get used to being confined to a room in the house. Tomorrow I will call the cleaners about getting back my stuff. The sooner the better…

Well, there’s something philosophical to be said about the finish to the tale of the house fire, but right now, philosophy eludes me. I could say that persistence pays off, and it would be true. Like any depression, if you wait long enough it will pass. No dark tunnel is interminable when you stick it out. In this case of waiting uncomfortably after the fire, there were two options, and the option to ride it out was the only wise choice. My neighbors who had no optimism were not much help, but I thank them anyway for being there. James gave me a few necessary items, and Roger helped me build a bass guitar from a kit last summer. But the ones who did believe and had optimism outnumbered the faithless by far. This post is dedicated to them. Thank you sincerely as this little adventure nears the end!