Three o’clock. Some snowflakes were mixed with the rain a moment ago, and as quickly vanished. I’ve been trying to read very difficult philosophy, the editor’s introduction to Logical Positivism. I’m so accustomed to rhetoric, generalizations, and poetry that the specificity of analytic philosophy is like doing math or something. Is there much difference between philology and linguistics, and which is trustworthy? And what is the use of philosophy if it doesn’t help humanity along? Wading through the introduction, I realized that I’ve been very naive in an epistemological way, a way that regards the medium of language. One can never really refer to concrete objects as they are, but instead you are stuck with verbal statements, and that’s as close as you can get to material truth. Naive realism is sort of a leap from subjective experience to saying the external world is objectively “there.” I make this leap in logic all the time, disregarding the problem of language. I think most people do. Maybe this is why philosophy has become disposable in our eyes: the way it splits hairs is impractical.
And yet, I remember thoughts and feelings from my early childhood, just watching the beads of rain trickle down the car window by osmosis, like observing the succession of my ideas. Our lives start out with endless questions that eventually get silenced by having to chase the dollar. Philosophy may seem useless, but it is our original state to wonder…
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.
Phenomenology of word by word
We take our time regarding not the sword
Not the sacrificial lamb and not the slide rule
Nor what is known: but what a baby sees…
How nice it were without the prejudice
Of biblical or philosophical stone
And having for authority our eyes
Our ears our senses rhythm of the words
Original thought expressed in living verse.
We say the night is rainy and pitch black
No word may pierce but feels wet on our skin
Cold and wet and nakedly alive
Put up our hood and duck inside the taxi
To take a ride to nowhere anywhere
And wait the leaden sun and ruddy leaves
Ears open for the railroad tracks beyond
Celestial railroad when we ought to walk
Sowing word by word a crop to reap
And share all revelation evermore.
The rain is coming down again, more intensely. I hear a lawn mower. Times have really changed since two years ago. I hope this band project is good and goes somewhere. I also hope Mark and I can be friends. He’s very intelligent and nice and seems to care about me even though we’ve only met once. I suppose I’m a worthy guy in spite of what my family thought. We all gave each other hell for no good reason, and when things aren’t logical I don’t stick around. The rain stopped as suddenly as it began. Just light sprinkles. … I can live with myself now even if my family could not. I consider them quite ignorant and narrow minded, maybe not worth my concern. Not even Jeff could disabuse himself of redneck family beliefs and lingo. Perhaps he was unwilling to let the others go. I felt like I had no choice but to exile myself. The language I use is peculiarly mine, a creole of formal and colloquial English. Basically it is conversational speech. Writing original thoughts is a veritable art. Socrates said something about original thought. I guess that’s what I and many other bloggers do. Those who can’t write well might have trouble formulating ideas from scratch. My mother and sister used almost nothing but stock phrases, never thinking of taking the building blocks of speech and articulating thoughts of their own. James Joyce mentions having used philosophers such as Aquinas as “lamps” for illuminating his own notions. First you learn the terms and then you can build whatever you desire.
Ten o’clock. I just wonder if alcoholism is on a gene. Some professionals say it is. Others deny that it’s a disease. What’s really wacky to consider is how genetics and spiritual darkness and light can be connected. As if one’s spiritual path could be inherited— but with a degree of free will as well. It normally offends my reason to link schizophrenia with spiritual beliefs, because that entails praise and blame. Yet on the flip side of culpability is control, or what I call freedom of choice. Being blameworthy seems undesirable at first, but deeper thought reveals a personal agency or power that is ultimately indispensable. The word “power” also means “to be able.” You can observe the etymology in modern French “pouvoir” and Spanish “poder.” These two languages descended along different lines from each other and from English, but the family resemblance is there. Why would we have a word like “power” if it weren’t a matter of fact? What if our destinies really were in our control? Lutherans say God gave us free will. We can choose right from wrong from moment to moment. But how moral choices could influence genetic heredity, I cannot fathom, unless epigenetic “sins of the fathers” is real.