Long Post: A Thousand Starless Words

Warning: Intense religious content
Eight thirty five.

I caught myself having an episode of psychosis this morning. I emailed Suz about what was happening and she replied very nicely. I have the food pantry this morning; must take off in twenty minutes, or maybe a bit later. I usually get there too early. Cathy should be there with her cookies, which are always welcome. The milk of human kindness is a far cry from delusions about the devil. I don’t know where my religious delusions come from, but they are terrible. As for Sheryl, I still think she was a lousy therapist. Or maybe not qualified to work with schizophrenic people. Funny how I fired her, and then, PeaceHealth was just as bad. I didn’t care for Bonnie very much. Finally I came full circle to Laurel Hill, and that was a lot better. I will tell Dominic that I don’t want to work a job. I can tell him about my episode today. And really, I’ve been under unusual stress lately. Psychosis is very uncomfortable and frightening. No one seems to understand it. However, I do want to stick out playing music with other people. It’s something I’m really good at, and hang the delusions. They are not real. I’ve had all kinds of delusions and hallucinations in my life, but none of them was real. The sexuality stuff could be yet another delusion. I might as well take the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind not the therapists I’ve had, but rather the psychiatrist I used to see. It’s ok to pick and choose among my experiences with providers. I know my own illness very well. Only a few minutes to go. Think about how glad they’ll be to see me…

Noon hour. The food pantry went as usual, nothing extraordinary happened. When I got home, I rested for a few minutes, then I went and bought some food for Aesop. Now he’s been fed and I can relax with my ginger ale. The sun is out in a partly cloudy sky. People are out walking their dogs, children are playing, and the temperature is unusually warm for winter. I went out in just a sweatshirt, no jacket. It’s good to see the sunshine after a week of solid overcast skies. You tend to forget that the sun even exists in winter. The deprivation of light makes you depressed and a little hopeless. Right now the silence is almost unbroken. Two nights ago it rained super hard, but I hardly heard anything because of my new storm windows. My brain is playing a song called “Starless” by King Crimson. The lyric to it is awfully depressing. My conscious mind can’t retrieve the words, but my subconscious probably knows the whole thing. I bought the album Red at Earth River Records when I was still 17 years old. At the time, I already had a vague notion of what the band was about. It wasn’t very healthy for me to be listening to. I knew that my Spanish teacher was a Christian, so in part I rebelled against her beliefs. I don’t know why. High school was a bizarre time for me, with not very many choices of ideology. Pretty much, it was only Christianity and rock and roll, and reactions to both. College was a much better atmosphere, and I learned about this thing called philosophy, which enabled me to think critically about anything under the sun. My whole education after high school was an exposure to philosophy. We were taught how to think, not what to think. Across all disciplines, the underlying theme was philosophy; it was logic and reason.

One forty. I’m in a rut I need to get out of. The episode I had this morning was alarming. It reminded me that I indeed have the illness, and sometimes even the medication can’t block the symptoms. I might take an afternoon nap, because I know I didn’t sleep well last night. Until then, the ginger ale tastes really good.

Five twenty. Wow, Chris K posted a note on my blog that was very heartfelt and nice. He believes that I’m very brave for putting it out there about my illness. I suppose that he’s right. He’s probably sleeping right now, but I replied to his comment… I practiced my bass guitar for a while, and it sounded good to me. It makes a difference when I wash my hands with soap prior to playing. It just feels better. My chops work better that way. I like the sound of my red Precision copy. I think Ron would like it too. I never did get a phone call from Bruce from church. He said he wanted to jam with me. Actions speak louder than words. But the jam with Ron and Mike is already set up. I’ve just closed the blinds and turned on the porch light. It’s raining outside, and I can hear it. It’s nice to have things quiet… Whoa, I just had a psychotic thought. Is the band King Crimson expecting Armageddon? I was watching a YouTube video of them doing “Starless.” Not a smile on anybody’s face. It looked like a recent performance. Robert Fripp had white hair. I need to get myself out of this funk. I’ve experienced enough of being a prophet. Now put away the bass guitar and steer clear of rock and roll. Just go to church and sing in the choir. This is sheer lunacy. If the Bible is the truth, I don’t want to know about it. Very strange week I’ve had. Perhaps it started a week ago, or whenever it was I dug out my red Precision copy and played John Wetton lines. What compelled me to do that? Was it like God inspiring me to pick up the instrument and begin prophesying? I remember: it was last Sunday afternoon. But surely I am delusional? And maybe King Crimson is too…

A Bit of Science

Nine twenty. I read a little of Loren Eiseley, an American naturalist writer in the tradition of Thoreau, and prior to Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould. A science popularizer with poetic sensibilities. Among other things, he comments on human vanity when we deem ourselves supreme as a species, for the reality is that another and greater species is likely to follow us and dig up our own fossils. I just finished the chapter about water’s quintessence. Eiseley relates an anecdote of saving a frozen catfish, cutting him out of the ice and taking him home to see if he would survive. In fact he did after thawing out. Eventually he jumped out of his water and died, presumably in his restlessness to be back in the wild… The sun is out in a sky of part cloudiness. It foreshadows the coming springtime, or perhaps I’m eager for that. Usually in February we get snow, but with the advance of global warming, no one knows what to expect weather wise. One winter there was a severe flood, and of course the media made a video of it to sell. Anything for a profit. I haven’t heard from the tech yet. He has another two hours to his window. I can’t go to the store until he’s been here…

He called me and said it’ll be another two hours, so I walked to the store— where the aisles are being rearranged on the owner’s whim. What was to the left is now on the right side of the store and vice versa. It’s just an example of how things change. I kind of like it. Things that don’t change or adapt to change tend to be swept away. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Time never stands still, nor is it a fiction that things generate and corrupt. If I were a mathematician, then I might have a better understanding of the physics of time. Aristotle struggled with the problem of why entities come into being and pass out of it. When I think about it, the Ancient Greek philosopher devised for all posterity the alphabet of logic and of the analysis of existence. His lecture notes provide the building blocks for all subsequent science. Indeed, Aristotle was the first scientist. He is an archetype…

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.

A Mystery

My dad quit smoking by sheer willpower but did a lot of lemon drops after dinner. I’m something like my dad. This reminds me of today’s sermon. Christians deny that our identities are the product of genetics, of pure biology: I have to disagree. Although, I’d like to believe that we are free above and beyond the physics: so how else is free will possible without God’s creativity? According to religion, God created us freely choosing agents and not subject solely to a deterministic universe. But it’s a hopeless ontological perplex for any thinking person. How does a soul dwell in a human body? Descartes guessed that the pineal gland of the brain was the locus for the conjunction of body and mind. He’s since been proven wrong. In addition, research on the brain reveals what cognitive functions are carried out in which areas. I took psychophysiology in college. The proof to my mind was irrefutable. Thus the arguments of Christians for God’s creativity are groundless. A materialist worldview is smooth and continuous with respect to a developing embryo and fetus. The only kicker is, how did subjective experience emerge from biology? This always gives me pause…

Relativism

Quarter of four. Except for the mystery of subjectivity, I don’t see a reason to accept the supernatural. I can remember my philosophical naivety in my teens, when the distinction between subject and object didn’t exist. The mind body problem was uncharted territory for me, and the potential for bisexual love only teased my perception when I was fifteen. I didn’t much distinguish self from others, taking experience very literally. I perceive that a lot of people would still be in that condition today. I would undertake to educate everyone on identity from a philosophical perspective if I could. But most people “don’t have time” to be enlightened.

Do you ever wonder about the existence of not only yourself but how the existence of others is possible? We are not a mass of continuous sensing flesh, but rather every individual is separate and private. This was what I didn’t realize in my teens. Everyone sees the world differently in a very literal way, right down to the perception of shape and color. Some thinkers have argued even that the objective world doesn’t exist at all. We have perceptions of a world, but exactly what the nature of it is, we’ll never know. People are helplessly trapped inside their own minds, and learning this truth is a first step toward sophistication.

Stories

Three thirty. I haven’t been sleeping well. I keep hallucinating a raucous noise. It wakes me up, and then I wonder if it really happened. It feels cold in here. A couple of people from church have suggested how human beings must create meaning in their lives, after the ideas of Albert Camus. I added that William Faulkner had the same thought. That’s what The Sound and the Fury is all about. It comes to the reader in fragmented form, reminding us that we need stories to make sense of existence. Perhaps Stephane Mallarme expressed the idea first in his poem “A Dice Throw.” He suggests it at least formally… It doesn’t matter if Jesus is a reality or not. What counts is what we do with the information available. We can virtually will God into being by acting together in a group. I’ve seen it happen before at my old workplace. I’ve witnessed it playing in a rock band. In a group of five, the sixth presence was the spirit created by all. Humanity is magical in its potential to create and make a difference. And every interdependent individual counts, no matter how small. I learned that from revisiting Madeleine L’Engle a week ago. Everything relies on everything else, and one thing out of place makes a disturbance. A raucous noise in the night…

Spice of Life

No one in my family does much thinking. I get a strange sense that Polly is hiding something from me. She doesn’t care now about alcohol abuse. The whole family shuns me— so what made L— drive by my house one day in October?… It seems like an accident that we started talking again. Polly may regret it too. I just scheduled the ride to my Monday appointment. And I thought of how my family is too proud to accept help from government services; but not me. I don’t share their redneck pride. I don’t understand it. When people need assistance, they need it. Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, but my family will never acknowledge it. The best thing I ever did was to disown them. The sun has come out for a moment; good to know it’s still there. Tim told me that K— isn’t close to his family either. Tim himself is divided from his family over politics. I told him that my family has no curiosity for bigger things. He said that was a shame… One thing I can say is that I enjoy interaction with people, especially when they are intelligent. The exchange of ideas stimulates my brain and motivates me. The rest of the family is apathetic about what makes life interesting. It’s like they’re not even alive, let alone joyful. How could I possibly cut myself down to their level? Life has loveliness to sell! The world is a big place, and often wonderful. How can anyone be so bovine, so boring; so disinterested in new ideas? So totally unintelligent? Life is not about chains; life is about freedom and happiness… Ranging through the boxes of my stuff, I found my copy of The World as Will and Representation, a book I needed while I was in the trailer. I think I will start reading it now, bearing Moby Dick in mind. There are many books I’d like to read all at once; digest them all and have instant enlightenment. But there’s still time to go over them one by one…