History Lesson

Today has been rather a test, yet better than yesterday. I skipped the Snapple tea and felt okay with no caffeine. I did only a little reading out of the same book, an essay by Moritz Schlick of the Vienna Circle. The one by Russell was too difficult for me to follow. Very generally, positivism was concerned with realistic things, kind of like science, and denying the existence of anything beyond the physics; basically, anything you can’t see or sense with your five senses. But then I wonder what the motive was for such a denial of the supernatural. I think they wanted to level everyone down to equality, especially after the Nazis took power in Europe. Frankly, most of the positivists were Jewish and maybe had an axe to grind with the Church and anyone who claimed to be superior in some cultural way— again, like the Nazis and the anti Semitic trend that started with Richard Wagner and other Germans like him. It was absurd for them to say they had the best of everything: women, beer, music, mythology, and the Aryan race of people. I think this was the situation they tried to correct in eliminating statements that were unverifiable. I heard this opinion in a lecture by my old Jewish philosophy professor who once lived in Germany. He escaped from it just before the concentration camps were instituted. This story always impressed me as amazing. Dr Zweig was a good guy. Anyway, the next essay is by Rudolf Carnap and ought to be accessible to me.

Eleven thirty. Now I perceive that my interest in logical positivism is political and historical and relevant to our situation today. The fascism of the departing administration and the attempted coup on democracy, imo, was in many ways like the Nazis. Perhaps the supernaturalism of the extreme right has given it an unfair advantage somehow, in a way I don’t understand, just as no one understands what made Nazism a phenomenon during WW2. But the logical positivists knew what they were doing by leveling everybody to the common denominator and abolishing metaphysics and other outrageous claims to superiority by the Nazis. Hopefully we’ll be wise enough to learn from the precedent of these philosophers and crush infamy before it crushes us. 

Epiphany: Is Reason for Everybody?

Quarter of ten. I’ve just awoken from a nap, but it was difficult to relax, to let go and fall asleep. I was asking myself how many people remain with good common sense, and am I one of them. Perhaps it were wiser to stay off of social media for the next ten days, given the magnitude of what’s at stake? Or by the same token, maybe the Internet can use some sound advice, like the voice of reason speaking evenly in a wilderness of tongues? But being a person with issues, I doubt if I can prescribe for the well-being of others. What would my parents say if they were alive to give their opinion? It seems that everyone needs a parent figure in times of obscurity, chaos and confusion. Above all, we need security and safety in order to live and further ourselves on to the future. I believe that the best rudder to steer us through a time of madness is sweet reason, wherever this faculty comes from, in whatever it consists. It’s the kind of calm that prevails upon you when you sit down to read a good book.

An image just reappeared to me from my walk to Bi Mart the other day: the site of the demolition of my old elementary school. I remember how my mother used to volunteer to help tutor students in reading. The effort was led by Mrs Madden, whose job was solely to teach reading at Silver Lea. Mom used to be astonished by the dyslexia she encountered among the children who struggled. When I was in fourth grade, the better readers were forced to tutor their peers who didn’t do so well. Honestly, it was kind of a nightmare for me, because the ones I helped resented me so bitterly. Scott and Paul were especially hard for me to try to tutor when I was only nine years old. The last time I saw Paul, he was working at the Abby’s pizza parlor in a small town north of Eugene. I was still a college student, rather aimlessly going about my studies.

So now, Silver Lea school has been razed to the ground, not a trace of it remaining in physical reality, and the only existence it retains is in the memory of those who went there. It just makes me reflect that some people never do learn the experience of “reason” from sitting with a good book, so how could they possibly get what I mean? Sometimes it all seems so futile. A society of freethinking philosophers will probably never be a reality because most people can’t sit still for that long. Yet, I think of people like Paul and Scott and wish them every blessing. 

Mike and Ron and Me / Windows

Eleven thirty. Band practice with Mike and Ron went really great. Once we got warmed up, we fell into a groove pocket together and made some progress. Being in that zone is what music is all about. We incorporated influences from King Crimson and Led Zeppelin, and worked on a Nirvana song. Ron played a three keyboard setup this time for a larger palette of sounds. Mike added a tambourine to his drum kit. The bass I used was very simple and traditional, a Fender Precision, but with extra punch from the Omega bridge. I enjoyed messing around with “The Mincer” by King Crimson… We jammed for two and a half hours. The weather was good for my pilgrimage over to Mike’s house; mostly sunny and nearly fifty degrees. Right now there’s a light rain on the back patio cover. Pastor wrote me a thoughtful reply to my email from last night, and said I should probably apologize to my friend for a disagreement on politics. I’ll have to turn it over in my mind a little before I decide. No truth is ever very cut and dried, especially the deeper you think about it. Only ten days remain until the inauguration of Joe Biden. Rather than a rerun of history, I hope for general advancement in the future. The future may seem like a blind wall, but really it’s a window. 

Just Ideas

Wee hours.

The only improvement on Ulysses I can think of is to make Poldy Bloom a Black man rather than a Jew; and yet Jews have had to live in ghettos in history as well as Blacks and Hispanics. I’m thinking aloud about the crucial problems facing the United States today. There’s a great deal of resentment by the uneducated for the educated, which could be solved by making university tuition free for everyone who wants to go. I don’t know how to implement this plan, but Scotland has already done it. We could take a clue from their example, if we were willing to convert to a benign socialist system and give up our broken capitalist American Dream. Some dreams need to be awakened from, and last Wednesday was our wake up call. Instead of the American Dream, we need to dream globally for the sake of our future. The time has come to take idealism seriously rather than cling to economic survival and the delusion of a prosperity that doesn’t exist. People need to become more philosophical and curious about more than their percentage. If we can overcome greed, we can learn to get along with each other through free education in a free and equal society.

Zodiac / Victoria’s Secret

I’ve been sleeping a few hours, and I woke up overheated and maybe dehydrated. I had a number of dreams about the zodiac and the element of Saturn in my horoscope. Somehow, the image of the goat and the similarity of the name Saturn to “Satan” all melted down to the same archetype, I imagine. Traditionally, the devil was depicted in the form of a goat, just like the fauns, satyrs, and the earth god Pan in Greek mythology, and the main idea of the goat was lust and procreative power. Before Christianity took over, goats were sacred to the wine god Dionysus. There was nothing particularly bad or wicked about the goat in antiquity. All of this reminds me that I have a book on the cult of Dionysus in my stuff, written by a Jungian scholar. It might be good. Did you ever read Bacchae, a tragedy by Euripides? Perhaps it is of more interest to me. About fifteen years ago I read it to compare it to Christian tradition, and the parallels between Jesus and Dionysus were rather startling. Both were arrested and brought to justice, and both rose again in the end. Both were too powerful to be conquered… Mythology and its relation to astrology, and the whole subject of symbolism, I find fascinating. It delves into an interior reality of the unconscious, though I think the last word still hasn’t been pronounced on it. The field is still wide open for new scholars and new discoveries.

Well, the mystery of Victoria and her family goes on. This morning I found a thank you card on my mailbox for the chocolate, again from Victoria. This game of note passing makes me imagine strange things about the situation in their home. Maybe Diana is another Republican sore loser like Roger and Alice? I only know that Victoria graduated from the University of Oregon in psychology and wants to be a therapist. Meanwhile, her mother is uneducated and resentful of people who go to school and succeed in something. Victoria probably knows I attended the University a while back, and also her dad is a fifth grade teacher who went to the same school. And then there’s the matter of my political sign outside for Black Lives Matter. Still, all of this is circumstantial evidence and pure speculation on my part. Yet the cards she gave me are very real; I’ve put them up on my bookcase.

Fallout

Quarter after nine.

I received a letter from a federal office saying that my eligibility for Medicaid had changed and I needed to take action. Before I do that, I will call my current insurance company and verify the truth of what they say. It could be a miscommunication somewhere. No need to panic until I have more information… This morning is cold and partly sunny. I got my trip to the store done. Bonnie Rose waved and smiled in passing me on the road. There was a new stock of fresh sandwiches, so I bought a Monte Cristo. Loaded down with dog food and a few things for me, I marched slowly home. I remember seeing a couple of Mexican guys at the market. One held the door open for me, and I heard some chatter in Spanish. Gradually it will be safer for them to come out of hiding. What the heck should we do with the Border Wall? I think we ought to dynamite it to Kingdom Come, and let the fallout rain on somebody’s head. 

The Christian Left

Five forty.

Aesop stayed in bed while I got up to look for an email from my friend. My mind hovers on the precipice of pluses and zeros. God or no God. Four hours ago I speculated that the truths of religion are built into the English language. But it feels to me like the miraculous is very far away. The thought that helped me sleep was of a friend I know who has an autistic daughter and two schizophrenic sons. It reinforced for me the validity of psychiatry and the biological perspective. Maybe I should find another psychiatrist? And yet they only prescribe medications. I can’t believe I fired a psychiatrist and gravitated towards the Church and psychology, but that’s exactly what I did. I must have been desperate for a cure for alcoholism. In Les Miserables, I’ve left Jean Valjean and Cosette in the relative safety of a Benedictine convent, and that is sort of like my life currently.

Seven o’clock. It also explains why I’m stuck on the song “Sanctuary.” But is the sanctuary really safe for me? As the general red shifts to blue, my own color changes as well. I will be a blue person in a blue context, and who knows where the reds will go? It’s a rather scary situation for everyone. Like being caught behind enemy lines in the wrong color shirt. Eventually it will get sorted out, but it takes a while. I’d never heard of the Christian Left, but I suppose it exists. Our Redeemer is a Democratic church, so I could be in the right place. I don’t feel comfortable with the Christian Right, however. The times are very confusing. I’m beginning to see where I’ve placed myself as political shades turn from red to blue. Very strange. 

Out with the Old…

Five o’clock.

Now I wonder if Vicki will be working this morning. My imagination can summon all kinds of fates that could have happened to her. But the only fact I know is her absence yesterday. I also know the circumstances of her headache that never went away, the tumor on her brain, and the doctors who didn’t give her any straight answers… I don’t know how I feel about it, but I was used to seeing her every week morning for many years. Her quality of life probably wasn’t so great. She lived by herself and worked like a drone every weekday. She didn’t seem to enjoy it anymore; even stopped bantering with the guys who came in from the distributors. Her sense of humor had gone out of her life… What makes life worth living? Endless drudgery doesn’t seem to be the best thing. Rolling that boulder up the hill over and over again gets tiresome and boring to tears. The futility of it brings you down after a while. I lived that way for a short time until I learned that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had options available to me, and I chose wisely. My brother can call me names all he wants, but he isn’t happy with his life. He tends to blame others for his own unhappiness, but he needs to bring responsibility home to himself. He is free to choose for himself, regardless of what other people do with their lives. The truth is that everyone is responsible only for their own feelings, their own behavior. The ultimate arbiter is you.

Quarter of seven. I imagine that with the change to a Democratic administration, blogging will change accordingly, but I was prepared for this. I plan to keep writing on into the next year and see who shows up… I heard a shower of rain a few minutes ago. There should be daylight by seven twenty or so. When it comes, I will go to the store as I do every day. My heart is open to what the new year and the new government bring. It seems like anything can happen, but personally I’m very happy for the defeat of a tyrant who made us an embarrassment to the rest of the world. Aesop has finally gotten out of bed and wants a snack. I catch myself still avoiding the salon because I think Karen is very disgruntled over politics. Roger probably is too. I don’t see people openly jumping for joy, and yet my heart leaps quietly. Eventually it will be okay to talk about it. The rain has begun again, fortunately, though it’s still very dark outside. It’s going to be one of those days. 

Black Monday

Noon hour. November is packed with memories for me. Sobriety is hard to keep up, but I think about what my financial situation would be like if I drank daily. A 12 pack of good beer goes for about $15 or more. I don’t think my liver can metabolize alcohol anymore. It’s the worst thing for my health. Addiction is a steamroller, and it doesn’t care whom it crushes. This afternoon I might go buy my usual Snapples… Suzanne had to delay writing to me this morning. People are preparing for the holiday, everyone except me. But my book of Sophocles is coming tomorrow.

Quarter of two. I’m at physical therapy right now. My mind is a blank…

Quarter of four. The idea of sociology returns to tease my brain again. Maybe it’s a higher function of human minds to obey the unwritten rules, to conform and cooperate with the group. On the other hand, there are always square pegs and misfits, and these people help to make life a diverse experience. The unity of a given culture is one thing, but diversity from individual to individual is also inevitable. Rousseau: “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” The social contract is not something that comes naturally to us. And yet I put on a face mask in public like everybody else. I suppose the most antisocial behavior is substance abuse, when you isolate yourself and get high. You disconnect with culture and create your own reality, totally out of touch with people. Maybe people constitute the common denominator, the bottom line. Thus sociology has a point. But I think I’ll re-examine Rousseau’s political philosophy, though I know he concludes with the necessity of the general will. We sacrifice our native freedoms in order to have a civilization. We go at the green signal and stop on the red. Or perhaps we do something different when no one else is around? 

A Significant Sight

Quarter of eight.

We’re still a ways from a decision on the election. It’s a limbo until then. But the sun is out for now, after a night of constant rain. I have to call and schedule my rides for next week.

Near nine o’clock. I saw something significant at the store: three Mexican guys walked in, on their way to work. These people have been scared over the past year, and made themselves scarce in public. I used to see none of them for months on end in my stomping grounds, but now, finally, there were a few. It’s hard to stand by, wait, and watch while the scene figures itself out. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is on the radio a lot lately. I would like to add a line from Rush: “Those who know what’s best for us / Must rise and save us from ourselves.” But I guess it’s enough to be the masters of our personal fates. Justice is a long time coming. Hopefully it arrives before the deadline… There’s a knocking on my roof: probably a squirrel, or maybe a jay. But no, it just scampered overhead, little hands drumming. Now I’ve got Tears for Fears music stuck in my head. Physical therapy is today. I’m ready to defend myself against criticism if needed. To my knowledge, I’m doing the best I can. If I could do better, then wouldn’t I do it? Who would knowingly choose wrong? Are morals absolute, anyway? Is it all a game of Simon Says?… Suddenly it’s very quiet in here.