My trip to Country Club Road went pretty painlessly and it’s a beautiful morning, sunny and cool. After eleven today I want to play my turquoise Fender bass. I’ve left it bagged up ever since the crappy practice I had with the band last month…
Noon hour. Now I don’t have a reason to write about poetic transcendence of the kind in Keats’s work. What do I really believe, then? I think I’m just a realist. Even psychology turns me off sometimes for being implausible and unscientific. I don’t need anything for getting my landing gear off the ground and I don’t want to live in a dream. Maybe I should quit blogging, or change my focus to something different. My options are wide open for new things and ideas.
I remember something from the fall of 2013. My life was going downhill. In September my furnace crashed and I started using space heaters for warmth. I got energy assistance through my local utility company in October and took a few quizzes for additional credit to my bills. I attended two classes in energy efficiency, held in a church downtown. The instructor didn’t like me because I was an alcoholic and a bit of a jerk at the time. But throughout that autumn I only wanted to drink beer and listen to the Herb Alpert CD I’d ripped to my computer; plus I wanted to keep emailing with my friend in Scotland every night. I think the fall of 2013 was when the wheels began to drop off my apple cart. Funny I should remember that now; so maybe I actually do need a little boost from poetry and spiritual stuff? To be lifted on angels’ wings from the prosaic?
Quarter after eleven.
I just caught the headline on Google: starting Wednesday, mandatory face masks again by order of the governor. There’s no end in sight to the bad news stories, so what the world could really use is a dose of poetry. A vehicle to lift us up to the Sublime, the beautiful and true; to transport us to the spiritual universe.
We may take an image like snowflakes and flowers and compare them to the stars in order to transcend the mundane. We can create a living homunculus like an immaculate conception to be our guide to antiquity: in search of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the history of the world. The Ideal is ours for the claiming, for the shaping out of the clay of common day. Sandcastles in the air are waiting to be discovered by a new calculus; it only takes a little faith in human goodness. Put me atop the Tower of Babel to unzip the blue sky and see the fourth dimension. Amid the blast of voices in my ears, still nothing can impede my project of raising humanity to the celestial plane above the moon. Not only can it be done, it must.
The sky was quite pretty when I went out to the store, with a myriad small gray clouds on the blue. Children on my street had made drawings in colored chalk on the asphalt. And I think, let them dream and pretend. Michelle, the store clerk, told me about a customer who was rude to her yesterday. She seems to be on the receiving end of a lot of bad exchanges with people and with life itself. It would be nice if she could turn this around and take control of her circumstances. See herself as an agent instead of a victim to make her life more authentic. But it’s always easier to describe a problem than to prescribe a solution… I believe I was on N. Park when I stopped dead and looked at the panorama of the sky, thinking something inarticulate about time and eternity. Has the same firmament been here forever, or have we fouled it up beyond repair?
Eight twenty five. Heidi called in sick this morning, so my appointment was canceled. Immediately I had to call Ridesource and cancel my trips for today. But it’s okay; I wasn’t feeling so great anyway… How nice if things could be simplified, reduced to one perspective. Yet this wouldn’t be reality, which is rather encyclopedic. For six years I kept a worldview of logical positivism, a kind of empiricism: only our senses can tell us about reality. This method rules out metaphysics, the supernatural, and focuses on tangible things. It might be good to go back to Carnap’s take on life, but then I couldn’t mix with church very well. The beauty of empiricism is its simplicity. “No ideas but in things.” And you only have to understand determinism, or cause and effect, in a material and physical way… My dog, Aesop, senses that something is wrong with the world, or anyway, it’s wrong with me. Again I think of the benefit to us of paring down all perspectives to one. We can subject it to logical analysis to determine what makes sense and what doesn’t. But the problem with positivism is its utter rejection of poetic language as empty nonsense. It doesn’t refer to anything concrete, therefore it is invalid. As a consequence, the angels in heaven come crashing down to earth with a mighty thunder.
Well I gave my French book of Mallarme a cursory flap and found much of it unreadable, like pure nonsense, the drivel of a lunatic: psychobabble in a word. This discovery is a sign that I’m recovering from the illness more and more with time. I ought to be much more coherent now than last winter, not to mention years ago as a churchgoer. I may wish there were an Ideal dimension to the universe, but unveiling it is beyond all method… It is emotional reasoning to posit the spiritual universe; saying I feel it, therefore it must be true, but after this comes the burden of proof. It’s a difficult call to make. Is it right to categorically reject everything arrived at by intuition? And here I’ve opened up the same old can of worms as last winter. If my intuition is blind, it doesn’t make everyone else blind. I remember gifting Pastor that volume of William Blake six months ago, thinking of a particular passage in the Europe prophecy. Isaac Newton blows the last trumpet of doom, after which the angels fall from heaven and crash to the earth. In other words, scientific discovery knocks religion down. It is neither a good or bad situation; it simply is. Or maybe Blake thinks the blow to religion is regrettable… By the way, Blake is another one of those unintelligible poets, like James Joyce toward the end. Word salad. Psychosis… I don’t even know by what means I’ve been thinking since the end of springtime. Things either make sense to me or they don’t. Spirituality still is very hard for me to swallow.
Quarter after nine. However, there’s an image Mallarme uses more than once in his published poetry: something like a “snowfall of perfumed stars.” It makes me want to translate the poem myself to English. And perhaps in doing so, thereby lose my identity in his, or leave the poem extant without an author. Only the words and the reader remain, in a condition of dubious being.
Eleven o five.
I don’t know why I’m so depressed today. Clearly if I drank beer, I’d be choosing death over life. I don’t want to self destruct. It’s hard to see the spiritual meaning of everything anymore; this is all manmade and ultimately fake. And given that, there isn’t much to live for afterwards. So maybe it’s important to kindle some kind of religious belief, faith in eternity, everlasting life. Otherwise my daily life is damn pointless, mere biology and no promise of a blissful reward. Who can I blame for this decline in faith besides myself? Is it a product of politics? Are we all going through the same thing?… It might be a thing that fluctuates like water running hot and cold. If you plant a corpse in the ground, does it sprout? We are the hollow men… Now I barely remember having a spiritual life. But just last spring I still talked of Mallarme’s poetry and the possibilities for the Ideal.
If only my French were better!— I could take us to the Other Side.
But for a little color
I could repaint the spectrum’s laser light
Repair the hues to make them right
But for a shade of purple
I could weight the earth and heaven
Equalize the golden and the brazen
As swallows from the flue
Fly the roads behind the sky
In lavender amber West
A love letter from Avalon appears
On the fleeting gliding wing
Or does it come instead from old Lucretius?
The gilded and the pauper
The penniless and proper
Will balance with the reconciling sun
When the letter to Apollo
Is delivered by the swallow
And riches measured are to everyone
Another gray morning, cool and temperate, and quiet in the house. July is off to a great start. I believe I’ve hired someone to be my PCA, with the help of Rebecca and Lenora. I hope that all works out okay in the coming weeks. It is still so early today, but I couldn’t sleep any longer. Very soon I’ll amble to the store to buy some food and a treat for Aesop. I’m glad we don’t have to wear a mask in public anymore. If I’m not mistaken, there’s no practice this weekend, so maybe I’ll go to church on Sunday instead.
Quarter of eight. Steve waved hello from his car as I approached Fremont, but otherwise I met nobody on my walk. I feel kind of logy because I’ve had no caffeine yet today. Just once I thought of my brother’s past cruelty to me. Then I eliminated it, saying I don’t have to worry about him anymore. At least that toxic tie has been dissolved for good… I don’t have much to write about just now. After I feed the dog I guess I’ll read a book.
Nine o’clock. I’m not sure how I feel about Ezra Pound, the modern American poet whose politics got him in trouble and who was considered crazy by his times. I think he was probably anti Semitic, like his peer Eliot, which is a scary reminder of the Holocaust and the general insanity of World War 2. Even to handle a book of his poetry is like touching a hot potato, perhaps radioactive from Hiroshima… So why do some people still read his stuff? My brain is a bit on the blink, dodgy and tired. The overcast prevails so far, but the forecast says sunshine this afternoon… If God is good, he is all inclusive, broad and roomy, although this sounds like a human value. But how can we know anything more than ourselves? Beyond human understanding there seems to be nothing. Therefore the harmony of the human community is of paramount importance. If we can’t get along together, our future is forfeit. We can still take a clue from the hippies and affirm that love is the only answer. Even Pound was right to say, “I love, therefore I am.” Amo, ergo sum.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. At least I hope today is a good day, but I feel quite a lot of pressure on me regarding the PCA situation. As if in sympathy with my dilemma, the temperature on Sunday is going to be 109 degrees. I think I’ll go back to bed and try to rest.
Nine thirty. Michelle told me she could use a vacation. She’s been overwhelmed by many events in her life lately, and I joked that she needed a Calgon bath. One of the customers before me in line bought a half rack of Budweiser, which reminded me of a dream I had last night. I was forced to pick my poison from a bunch of different brands of beer, and none of them looked very good. I narrowed it down to Miller High Life and something else, but I don’t recall whether I ended up drinking it… The next person in line bought a newspaper with cash. Michelle helped the people behind me while I used the card slider. Outside of Colin’s house I saw a pest control van; probably for ants, because I have a lot of them too, though they stay outdoors. And every year I get swallows in my chimney and just live with them. A few minutes ago there was a mourning dove on the ground in my backyard, grazing for food. It had light gray plumage and a long tail…
Yesterday afternoon I sampled some John Berryman poetry from The Dream Songs. The tone of it struck me as being rather dissatisfied with big city life. The speaker has desires that always go unfulfilled. But sometimes he shows compassion for other people. Why does Henry say that he and Lucifer are in business together, or that God is no friend of his? I guess it’s sort of like Baudelaire, where people in poverty are befriended by the devil. Almost every poem in the series consists of three hexagrams: triple six. Very strange… I don’t think Berryman is for me, but I’ll give the book to my friend. He’ll probably enjoy reading it, and it might inspire his creativity.
It’s another sunny day, already 61 degrees out. I’m going to feed Aesop before I go to the store this time. That little market is open every day of the year. Sometimes frustration and futility get the better of me and then it’s tempting to drink my life away. But the wiser self usually rules my choices and my actions.
Quarter of ten. In the blue sky I saw a newsroom chopper flying westward and also a jet airliner leaving a vapor trail. There was a peppering of small white clouds to the east. I again thought of the poem by Mallarme about the azure sky and how the heavens drive him a little crazy. I could fish out my book of his poetry and try to make some sense of the French… It was Michelle at the store this morning. I said I was feeling kind of depressed and she thought the vaccine had something to do with it. My food credit is down to the last 15 bucks, but it’s no problem. Today will be good for ice cream later on if I can manage a second trip over there. The burden I bear almost constantly is guilt and even shame at times. Some people are very nice about my shortcomings but others think one size fits all. “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path.” Of course I prefer the ones who accept me as I am, not those who only see how I am deficient in something. I’ll never be perfect. Even if I were, some people would still take a dislike to me… Occasionally I see a bird or two flit across the yard in back. I observe a lot of airborne things, floating, gliding, and flying, like the seed pods hovering in the breeze, seeking a place to take hold and grow. Hope is a thing with wings.
Window to a window
Of clouds together boiling apart
To display the witching
Chalk white breast
Watching in the night
Alone for me alone
Sleeping to wake
The cruelest month.