The Age of Reason

Eleven ten at night.

The attitudes of old conservative people, particularly the ignorant ones, toward gay people really get on my nerves. And though I don’t say anything to them, it tunnels underground and wreaks havoc with my mental health. The Bible says, Be fruitful and multiply, so I guess that’s what they understand and try to impose on everyone else, but it’s truly none of their business how people live their personal lives. Actually, the Bible says a lot of unfortunate stuff, especially in the Old Testament, with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis and the long list of rules in Leviticus, that condemn gay people to death; and to make matters worse, some Christians say that “sexual immorality” in the New Testament refers to homosexuality in the Old Testament, linking the whole thing together.

If only I could be Voltaire and raise consciousness for people in our time: raise you to reason and tolerance of what you don’t understand. If I could make us all philosophers, then the world would be more harmonious. We can choose between the primordial ooze and the light of knowledge; between stubborn prejudices and a new understanding of humanity.

Yet it seems like a losing proposition even as I write this post. Republicans will always be the same, and Democrats also. I don’t see why we can’t dispense with the old and form a new constitution— a new religion. The world needs new stories, a new mythology to help it along. We don’t need dystopian fictions because we’re living a dystopian nightmare as it is.

I propose a utopia based on the powers of human reason. 

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Superman!

I was more productive with my bass practice today than usual. All along it’s been me and not my music gear, of course. I used my Jazz Bass and covered some Thomas Dolby songs, from The Flat Earth especially. It sounded pretty great to me this time. Most of the time I can’t make anything happen with my music. There’s nothing wrong with my bass guitars, just me. In this case, it can be tempting to use a substance for better productivity or for inspiration. The honest truth is that sobriety took away my creativity. Or perhaps my poor brain is just going downhill as I age.

It might help my ability to just throw myself into a situation with other musicians. But without a car for transportation, it’s a lot harder to make this happen.

It seems like the government ought to do more to help citizens adapt to everything that’s going on in the world right now. It’s just unbelievable, the bs and the problems facing everyone these days. And it’ll probably get worse. Lisa at the store told me that the emergency food stamp boost will end in February— next month. This means I’ll get only $83 in food stamps per month, so I’ll have to spend more out of pocket to eat. Thus, how are seniors and people with disabilities, who depend on a fixed income, supposed to live?

For reading matter, Theodore Sturgeon is looking pretty good.

I say we elect Superman President!

Amid this crowd of Clark Kents there’s gotta be somebody who can do a quick change of clothes in a phone booth and save the world.

Just take a weekend and do it.

Funny Vibes

Quarter of six evening.

Something brought me down late this morning. It rained cats and dogs and I felt tired already so I got some rest. I still needed a mood lifter when I got up, hence I treated myself to Tim’s potato chips and a big Coca-Cola from the market. But as I traversed my neighborhood I wondered what I was doing and what for. I felt kind of weird, like an actor in a play, while the sky and everything were a glaring silver. It seemed almost like I shouldn’t be there: I was an intruder or trespasser on my own street. For some odd reason, people are quietly hostile, though keeping to themselves, probably grinding axes in the backyard. I got the same feeling when Aesop was a puppy ten years ago, this strange cold war with the neighbors. Also I get the premonition that somebody’s going to sell their house and move away. 

Years in Review

Quarter after nine.

I just had a great tasting raspberry Snapple tea. The human and social world is quiet this morning, like a desert place. I didn’t see the same homeless man outside Karen’s salon today. Yesterday the sky through my front window was gray like a black and white photograph, while objects on earth were in color. It made me think of a phrase from Stephen Crane: “None of them knew the color of the sky.” From there I pondered moral absolutes, but I was rather vague, and does anybody really care about religion these days? Do we take heaven literally? The face of reality now has totally changed when I bother to remember life four years ago. It takes an effort to call up old memories. Maybe my memory isn’t as good anymore. What is here and now has a lot more force than past impressions. I know a few people who grumble and seem very unhappy with the status quo. Some of them talk of moving to Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming for political and economic reasons. But for my part, I enjoy the diversity and only hope for more of it to show as time goes on. It’s impossible to please everybody, even in the best utopia. I count my blessings. 

The Horseshoe Nail

I figured out that I feel quite stuck in my economic situation, with no car and a debt that’s growing. There’s a thing called house rich, cash poor that describes me pretty well. I don’t know how many people are in the same boat with me. But I reflected that it’s very difficult to be “free” when you live in dire poverty. It can be a double bind as well. Getting yourself out of poverty requires freedom, but being free takes some money to start with… I began to notice that this was a problem when I could no longer tithe to the church. And having no car precludes any shot at playing music in a band. It also means no transportation to a worksite if I had a job. It’s beginning to look like the nursery rhyme of the want of a horseshoe nail. The kingdom is lost ultimately because of this lack. There are even more complications in addition, like the fact that we’re moving to electric cars that nobody can afford, so it makes no sense to invest in a gas powered car now.
I suppose it’s kind of a joke to say I could live by my writing, and convert words to cash. Writers like Faulkner can attest that writing for money is not freedom of expression.
If prayers had power, I could use a miracle. I bet that we all could.

For Professor Zweig

Midnight hour.

I have no idea what I’m going to say. I’ve been writing in my diary some sober reflections on white evangelicalism, people of color, ethnicity, music, and how all of these things are supposed to cohere in our world. The last sentence went, “I just feel like something terrible is going to happen.” America is said to be the melting pot of the world, but it seems like we forget to stir the pot sometimes. I can’t stomach the theories of C.G. Jung, who like Martin Heidegger gave inspiration to the Nazis, a fact that isn’t publicized very much, but everyone deserves to know about it. The little book I picked up at St Vinnie’s, The Age of Analysis, is rare, and it was used by my old Jewish philosophy professor. He came to the USA from Germany just before Jews were put in concentration camps. He disliked Heidegger for his Nazi affiliation, for very good reasons. And he had a special insight to the motives of logical positivists like Rudolf Carnap since the disaster of German nationalism. But racism can happen anywhere and it usually does. I’ve got white knuckles over this election and I just hope that voters have some sense. “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” I still feel that something awful is going to happen. 

Frustration

Quarter of midnight.

Something Drastic 

I was thinking and writing about how the USA has lost its balls, and I’m one of those people with no balls. My sister, an ignorant Puritan, heads my family; but sick of this, I’m taking my cue from James Joyce and taking charge of my life— even if I have to leave the country and go to the UK to live. I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s time for me to throw off this paralysis and take my life seriously. No more Anne Bradstreet BS after this. No more “abstinence is the best contraception.” If I don’t take action, then my balls are forever pulverized by a system that’s lost its soul. The nation is seriously messed up, never mind who is to blame. I will free myself from this stranglehold or I’ll die trying.

And no, I don’t endorse Donald Trump or any political party. This is strictly personal, my own observation after years of life in this country.

I believe in the pursuit of happiness and the liberty to do this. 

Cabezas de Piedra

I was just observing more things about the difference between the River Road community and the bluer zones around town. It’s really remarkable, like the difference between life and death. I still would urge you to read Emerson’s essays when you have the opportunity. His stuff is quite relevant even today. In my neighborhood, people are selfish and hoarding, and any god they worship is a lifeless statue, just as Emerson describes. This is known as dogmatism. These conservative people resist change and the natural course of growth; they stop life from happening. It’s like being brain dead versus having a brain that works. Heads and hearts of stone. So obviously it is refreshing to get away to the blue places like Laurel Hill where you can actually breathe the air and feel something like natural. I’d much rather hang around vivacious spirits than reanimated corpses, those people gutted by tradition, each one a carbon copy of everybody else from generation to generation, insensible to the real spirit of nature that lives today if they would just tune in.

The Fog

Quarter of eight.

The fog is low and dense this morning, mingled with smoke from wildfires. Air quality poor, yet I had to get to market to buy essentials. I had many dreams during the night; my mind is working on solving some problem quite personal. The book I started reading of Whitman’s poetry edited by Harold Bloom raises all kinds of questions, but I’m thinking about disposing of it in the book share on Fremont Avenue. At the same time, these facts of human nature should be allowed to exist, no matter what a lot of conservatives say, and what the Bible says. By now I wish I’d never joined a Christian church, but had kept the same friends. I feel pulled two ways. I believed that religion was good for helping with addiction, but their other attitudes I find unpalatable, and this is the heart of the debate going on within me. My situation brings up further questions of what is liberal and what is conservative, and how to tell them apart. It’s extremely difficult to find harmony with all the different attitudes people express. So that the fog is a moral one as well as a literal one, and nearly impenetrable.

The Underdog

Nine o’clock at night.

I had a dream that a T. Rex killed my dog. Aesop went up against him fearlessly to defend me but the huge lizard chomped him down. Obviously I was sad afterwards. I wonder what the dream means. Does the dinosaur symbolize something, maybe the monster of society or of life itself, and my dog represents the brave but puny individual whose valiant fight is futile? The story ends up the opposite of David and Goliath: the underdog, against tremendous odds, loses the battle. What are they battling over? Still, Aesop’s self sacrifice to the T. Rex kept me alive a bit longer, so his death was not vain. One more observation: the name “tyrannosaurus” means “tyrant lizard.” Thus, the real tyrant could be anything you can imagine: the Church, or perhaps a group of unjust politicians trying to topple democracy. But usually when I think of something threatening, it’s the menace to liberal scholarship and to education as I remember it. And of course, “Aesop” is the fabulist and moral teacher of antiquity.