State of Nature

Five o’clock 🕔. I made my trip to Grocery Outlet and bought some very fresh foodstuffs. The dry salami knocked my socks off, and the banana peppers were super hot and tasty. I ate about a third of the loaf of sourdough bread. On my way to the store, I figured out who the real tyrant was: it was Pastor and the church. Now that I’m free, even food tastes better than in the chains of Christ. The full rainbow of colors is again available to me. This afternoon is quite beautiful, but the air is still a bit smoky. My new aqua bandanna works great, so I’ll use it often and might get an extra one. The cashiers at the store were exceedingly friendly and nice, and it just felt like the beginning of my life. Part of me is a little scared to be without religion, as if I must be possessed by the devil or something. But no; this secular life is natural for me, and minus the reference point of the church, the idea of the devil makes no sense. This is my life au natural, stripped of all fictions, much like what Nietzsche envisioned. Everyone ought to be this free and pure… Tomorrow I have nothing planned except to call my sister and get some food for Aesop. Tuesday I have X-rays to show up for. Wednesday they said more rain. Other than that, I don’t know what I’m doing next week. 

Bold or Foolish?

Five thirty.

I’ve learned that caffeine makes my paranoia worse, so the obvious solution is not to drink Coca-Cola. This is something I can control. Last night I had a lot of dreams, some of them very complex and emotionally distressing. Is my real life that complicated? And it’s the world beyond me that weighs on my mind as well. It’s a perplex my subconscious is trying to work out. I wonder, still, to what extent people are free in the midst of a pandemic. I had my little music jam last Thursday evening, just two guys, though now it seems I did something bold. I heard from another musician yesterday who wouldn’t have dreamed of getting together for a jam. People’s responses to the lockdown are individual and various. Perhaps I pushed the envelope a little, but I was determined to do something. My head was full of philosophy Thursday morning as I set about cleaning house. I didn’t think about how nobody else was doing music. But maybe it takes one or two people’s civil disobedience to change the general attitude. Time will tell if I did something foolish. Yet I think I will keep pushing for freedom until others get the idea. As long as it’s left up to you and me, we ought to do what is right according to our hearts. A lockdown cannot suppress the healing sound of music.

Philosophy

Four o’clock.

I’ve been reading Nietzsche. I came across some ruthlessness that I didn’t care for. And I can see why Christians don’t like his writing. To him, kindness and virtue are done out of cowardice. He says people don’t want to be hurt, and for this reason they abstain from hurting others. And though this is quite true, what would the world be like where people reversed the Golden Rule? My high school friend was a Nietzsche nut, possibly for the wrong reasons. I remember exchanging letters with him when he was a Marine. We argued over moral philosophy versus amoral. It was such a long time ago, and I drank daily back then. I think I was disposed more toward Hume’s and Kant’s ethical philosophies, while Sean was vehemently opposed to them. I could never understand why, because his outward demeanor was rather shy and quiet. I still can’t really picture him with an UZI. One debate we carried on for a while was over my notion of “security and peace.” It wasn’t much of a philosophy. I learned it by observing my dad’s behavior. In informed retrospect, it resembled the psychology of Alfred Adler more than any philosopher per se. I don’t know where my dad learned his protocol for life, either. Where had he run into Adlerian theory? All he asked of life was to be comfortable. Consequently, he never learned much about himself. Or, if he did know himself, he didn’t share his feelings with others. He wasn’t brave enough to admit to his weaknesses—which would’ve been a commendable strength. Basically, my dad was a coward… I suppose I’ll read the rest of Zarathustra. But I disagree with the deemphasis on kindness. If anything, it requires courage to feel and show kindness to other people. “He held up his riches to challenge the hungry / Purposeful motion for one so insane / They tried to fight him, just couldn’t beat him / This manic-depressive who walks in the rain.” From “Cinderella Man” by Rush, 1977.

Reason

Eight o five.

The heat and humidity are murder on us today. Been to the store already. Vicki was very nice.

What is this invisible entity called “culture?” The question makes me want to look at my sociology book again. Or maybe it’s a bogus science. I think I’m a nominalist. It’s not as though a group of people had a collective brain, an overarching soul. How would you prove such a hypothesis? I feel more comfortable with the idea of individual things, not so much with categories and classes. The things came first, and the categorization afterwards. Both Plato and Aristotle had this inverted. It took Sartre to come along and sort it out: “existence precedes essence.” I think sociology is premised on a fallacy, so I needn’t worry about it anymore.

I miss being a junior in college, which was 1989 for me. I also wish that I’d completed my minor in philosophy. Only one more class would’ve done it. But I was losing my faith in logic as a method. I thought that premises and conclusions could be manipulated, and were often faulty. The best way to prove anything was to look and see. It also happened that I was falling mentally ill and couldn’t think very well. As it is, I learned a great deal about how to think (as opposed to what). This virtue has saved me a couple of times from illegitimate reasoning by other people.

In the end, I believe that reason will triumph over madness and lead us to a better day.

Friday Night

Quarter after five. I noodled around on the green bass again, toward the end using my thumb to get more of an upright bass tone. I once had an old Disney record with fairytales narrated to the accompaniment of acoustic bass and congas. My dad bought me this at Bi Mart when I was probably five years old. The walking bass lines were jazzy and a little strange, which befitted the weirdness of folklore… I just found it on Amazon. It was released in 1969, but I didn’t see any credits for the narrator or the musicians. I may still have my old copy among my vinyl records.

Quarter after six. It’s 88 degrees outside, and will be 102 tomorrow. I learned that I gained about ten pounds while at the doctor. It’s a good sign. Roxanne will be here soon. No sweat.

Eight thirty. Home again. I realized something while at church: most people haven’t learned how to think critically about metaphysics. There’s not an original thinker in the church except for me and maybe Pastor. It’s like a sin to be able to think for yourself. Your mind is expected to be on autopilot in church, or at least at the one I go to. I feel like the last living human being when I’m among the other members, whose intellects are all dead. It is a strange experience, and it feels a little dangerous. The world deserves to be as awake as I am. Freethinking is our natural birthright, so why are so many people in intellectual chains? Nobody dares to do the kind of thing Descartes did anymore— or not at my church. I sense that I’m heading for more trouble with the Lutherans.

What Is Success?

Five o’clock. I played my Dean bass and did some contemplating. I thought about how immature I am in the eyes of people who work hard for a living. And maybe they’d be right. And maybe it wouldn’t be fair to them that my life is easy. I could be shameless and unscrupulous regarding having a job. But still, my choices have been authentic, and they were mine to make. To me, anything was better than drudgery for another twenty years. The more pressure they put on me to show up and be productive, the more I wanted to get out of there. What did making glasses have to do with me? I had no interest in eyewear. It was just a job, not a career.

And so I plucked my green bass thoughtfully, tuning down to D a couple of times and experimenting with the intervals and harmonics, gazing out the window at my maple tree and the clear blue sky. I thought this is life, and we create every moment of it— through the notes on the green bass guitar. We all choose the life we live. Even if we don’t, it’s desirable to own responsibility for what happens. With the existential hero, we can say, “I know who I am, and who I may be, if I choose.” No one is a failure who wills his past, present, and future.

A Good Start

Nine twenty five.

The heat outside is already exhausting. It’s been hard on Aesop day after day. Today I’m going to try not to worry about anything. Whether I’m the master of my destiny or not is unknowable, so just resign myself to the ignorance. Maybe it’s desirable to take control where I can. The authorities can lock down on us all they want, but even then we have options. You can always choose to run a red light… The market has been out of burritos and Hot Pockets for over a week. I asked Vicki about a new shipment of food and she said tomorrow. So I’ll wait a little longer before making my run in the morning.

Lately the schizophrenia doesn’t bother me much. I still hear voices when there’s white noise in the room, but I mostly ignore them. I’m very thankful for my clarity of thought, which is owing to the Vraylar.

The sky is the same white color as yesterday, intense from the sun. This is one thing definitely out of my control. Nor will any amount of praying alter it. If I’m wrong, then I’ve been missing the boat all along. We seem oblivious to the fact that reality keeps going on even with our eyes closed. It doesn’t have to be looked at to exist. The things we wish for would’ve happened anyway. People are incredibly vain to believe that nature orbits around them, but human nature is another item out of my willpower.

Despite the heat, the sunshine is nice to look at. My dog had his breakfast at ten o’clock. I sort of miss drinking beer and being an honest reprobate, a rascal with some kindness about him. But in some ways, I’m still the very same person as when I drank. This is something I wouldn’t wish to change. So now I wonder if nirvana is for real. Is it really possible to eradicate all of your selfish desires and be the hole in the donut? They say progress, not perfection, but perhaps the ideal is not so great. But I can agree that kindness is a perpetual good. Sometimes it’s enough to just be who we are, and never mind living by doctrines and principles. One size never fits all. And those who judge us for merely existing have problems of their own.

It’s going to be a good day.

PS.: Control Freak

Quarter after five. The above doesn’t sound like me much. What helped my mood at three o’clock was my success with the screwdriver in fixing the door knob. This gave me proof that I have some control over my circumstances. The reason why I was despairing was because I can’t control the hot weather or the spread of the coronavirus beyond just myself. I felt overwhelmed by the heatwave, from which we won’t be getting a break. At my most fundamental level I am a control freak, so having no control over a situation tends to depress me. Admitting powerlessness is not in my method for recovery, and maybe this is my problem with Alcoholics Anonymous. My belief system depends on freedom and responsibility. In every situation we have a set of options and are free to choose from among them. We are never denied this free agency.

Wednesday Thoughts

Wee hours.

Another observation: Emerson’s exaltation of poets is similar to Nietzsche and Ayn Rand making creators the elite. In turn, Emerson resembles Blake when Blake says, “Would to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets.” In all four, we see elitism, the glorification of creative people, or maybe the poet that every individual has the potential to be. Wordsworth suggests that all people are in a sense poets by creating their perceptions of reality. However, Nietzsche does say that people are not all equal. I’m not sure how he means this… The day is dawning kind of green again. When the hour is decent I think I’ll play my favorite bass today, the turquoise Fender. Rock and roll fantasy, rock and roll dream, informed with a bit of classical music.

Six o’clock. I’m inclined to agree with my old history professor on the topic of elitism. What was it, then, that I used to love about Emerson’s essays? Now I think it’s absurd to claim that poets are inspired by the oversoul, by the spirit of nature, etc etc. Jung asserted that inspiration comes from the unconscious, which is the same thing as Emerson’s oversoul. Is the unconscious real? The test of this is to read Shakespeare, to plunge into the Green World of his comedies. And then to see how Goethe modifies the vision of Shakespeare. Also, it would help to revisit the Ion of Plato, which discusses poetic inspiration.

Quarter of eleven. My package with the book got handed to the wrong carrier at the hotel, so I ended up requesting a new copy from the publisher. All’s well that ends well, and I will see my Elizabeth Bishop. In the meantime I looked through my CDs and found the piano works of Claude Debussy and also Erik Satie. These are indeed good listening for summertime. I will love hearing Children’s Corner again. The music reminds me of my working days in the summer of 2007. On Friday evenings I would drink beer and escape with some exquisite music, something to transcend my redneck workweek. Little Henry the pug lounged with me on the loveseat while I lost myself in the headphones. Bliss! Now, the summer sun alone is sufficient to intoxicate a person… I guess we’ll be recording the worship again this Friday, and every Friday from now on. It is good to do a little public service.

Reading Nietzsche

Noon hour. I’m going to pull out my Nietzsche books and have a look at Zarathustra. His aphorisms are difficult sometimes. Also I don’t like what he has to say about women and their role in social life. Further, I associate Nietzsche with the nerds and freaks who read him enthusiastically, like a friend I knew from high school. In the wrong hands, his writing can be a little dangerous. But if I connect him with James Joyce instead, it might be an illuminating read. Some Christians think Nietzsche was an infidel.

Quarter after three. Feeling stymied for words. I guess I’m just uninspired. What Nietzsche says about creators must have influenced Ayn Rand, since she also exalts those people. But his thinking goes a bit deeper when he suggests that man’s reverence is properly for himself and not for a god. When I was very unwell I wrote a poem that reversed the Prometheus myth, saying in one line how “we steal back the fire of our reason.”

The eleven eyes of God are on us now,

as we an astral body sans our person;

the myths of houses larger than earth life

have gotten out of human fictive hand,

evolving consciousness apart from us,

awake, aware, messiahs to nowhere.

 

It seems as if some Titan robbed our palm,

stole fire from us and gave it to the gods:

Prometheus in reverse redeems himself

while putting us at mercy of a daemon

whose diamond intellect inscrutable

determines destinies without a care.

 

What difference, though, twixt an amoral God

and no immortal deity at all?

Deny it being in our human minds

and we steal back the fire of our reason,

the houses and their myths collapse like cards,

and eleven eyes are planets, moon, and sun.

 

12/4/08

I see in my poem some resemblance to Nietzsche’s idea of placing the credit where it is due: in human hands. For me, it was the first step in my journey out of madness, a madness that seemed to grip everyone around me. Then so far, I don’t find anything Nietzsche claims offensive. I will probably go on reading Zarathustra.