Zeus and Cronus

As day wore on to evening, I had a backlash of conscience for having rejected pastor’s offer. And then my imagination compared the situation to a kind of father complex, like when Zeus defeated his father Cronus for control of the world. This idea has me wondering about the natural order of things. I remember a play by Ibsen, The Master Builder, whose theme was the fear of the coming generation by every parent. It’s a phenomenon in psychology called the Cronus complex, though there’s not a lot of information about it. My dad was very bad that way: doing his worst to keep me dependent on him so I couldn’t show him up and be better than he was. He even had a sign up in his office that read, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.” He was a sick man in that he competed with his children to keep them down: the very epitome of insecurity. The truth is that he wasn’t very smart or particularly talented in anything. After he died, my brother did the same stuff with me, fearing to be defeated somehow by me. It’s a wicked thing that happens in families. Jeff is 14 years older than me. I could swear that he cheered me on to drink myself to death; a terribly toxic person in my life, so now I have no respect for alcoholics.

Every life is the growth of a flower towards the sun: or maybe more like a tree. Unfortunately there are others who try to deny us the sunlight. I had a weird dream about my old psychiatrist: he had a following of his protégés, as if he were some godlike figure with his own school of thought. Eventually, in real life, I broke with him and set out on my own, sort of writing my way to existence. To independence, that is. Funny but he never encouraged me to write. He wanted to create a bunch of clones of himself, as my dream expresses.



Eleven at night.

It’s probably not so healthy to use defense mechanisms like intellectualization, yet it seems like a natural impulse for me. I look around at the world, or my little corner of it, and I make comparisons and contrasts with the reading I’ve done, to finally come to a generalization that rings more or less true. But I admit that it’s a faulty methodology for showing anything like the truth.

Since yesterday, maybe before, I’m seeing fragmentation everywhere, like Eliot in The Waste Land, but it’s only because my church is in political turmoil. My imagination likens it to The Wreck of the Deutschland, the great poem by Hopkins, or even “Synchronicity II” by The Police, in the line, “We have to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies.” I don’t know if the fragmentation is really general. Perhaps my mind amplifies the church situation out of proportion, so that it’s all that I can see. In fact, this is most likely the case. To be honest I feel pretty overwhelmed.

So I just keep plodding along from day to day like everyone else. 

Joy Is Joy

Ten AM.

I don’t feel very intelligent this morning, though it’s getting better with a shot of Snapple tea. At the market I ran into Craig, the guy whose car I hit with my truck in the parking lot six years ago. He asked me if I was keeping warm, and I said that was a good question. It was about 30 degrees when I made my daily pilgrimage for groceries. I put on a navy blue beanie in addition to my old blue parka and went out to brave the frost.

I used the word “pilgrimage” above. This might be a loose connection with my thoughts on Chaucer and the Wife of Bath earlier this morning. I was thinking that masochism is not for me, but different people have different feelings about it. It seems strange to me to derive pleasure from pain, and yet I remember some odd things from my early childhood: weird instincts that I later weeded out as logic took over consciousness. Freud treats masochism as a matter of course, but more recent psychologists often differ with him. I’d prefer to think that pleasure is pleasure, pain is pain, and the enjoyment of suffering is something kind of weird. Dostoevsky deals with this in Notes from Underground, I recall from a lecture… Joy is very distinct from pain and suffering, and we know when joy happens to us. It’s a pure and direct thing rather than convoluted and complicated. I think maybe my Freudian days are over.

What’s Toxic?

Sometimes it feels like life is nothing achieving. I mean, life in our society today. I read an article on NPR about the problems men are having, according to this guy and his book. Though I agree with it, he is such a minority voice, really on the margin of culture as it is right now. Oh well. But still it leaves me feeling frustrated for being a guy and having very little to say about it. I think it really sucks. It raises the question of how free are individuals in society. It seems to me again like my life has gotten out of my control. Above all I feel emasculated.

The author of this book observed about people in psychology fields. In the Eighties, 40 percent of psychologists were male, whereas now it’s one in ten. He said that often men need a male therapist, but the field is dominated by female therapists. From my own experience, I know I miss my psychiatrist and kind of regret that I left him.

I even forget that I’m a guy sometimes.

I wonder where it’s all coming from, this demonization of masculinity. I have some ideas on this, but probably they’re not very pc or acceptable by most people.

How can it be a white overcast and be so dark outside? It hasn’t been raining today, though the sky is a solid sheet of cloud. I haven’t done much all day. I restrung my new bass but unfortunately the strings expose the limitations of the instrument. Maybe I’m just having a bad day.

In for a Landing

Eight o’clock at night.

Another dream.

A swimmer is out swimming in a bay and is concerned about finding a good place to come ashore. He figures how many more laps he can swim before landing. In advance, he has asked a lifeguard on land to be watching for his return. It isn’t clear whether the swimmer is myself or somebody else, but there is danger of fatigue and drowning in the bay. 

Que Sera, Sera

Eight twenty.

Finally I had the gumption to read a story by Borges called “The Garden of Forking Paths” in the small hours. It was great, an exploration of the contingencies of time, the options taken and not taken all being valid at once, to create multiple futures. But when I read a few pages of Verne last night, it struck me as just an adventure story with very little poetry to it. I’ll give it more of a chance… My oak and maple trees are changing color at last. The first is even dropping some leaves already, and the season still affects my mental state. I remembered a friend with an apartment next door to Knights of Pythias, back when I had a vehicle and things were quite different for me. I forget hardly anyone I meet in my life. Stuff happens and I lose touch with people, yet the memories persist as though nothing had happened. It’s like the music playing in my head: I can be in the worst pickle but the music goes on indifferently, undisturbed… It’s a wonder to me that I ever got sober, but I see it as a preordained event more than an act of will. My stomach saved me, one therapist said. Often it’s the body that makes executive decisions for the whole person. The horse doesn’t need the rider for guidance on its way places. The path he takes he would unerringly pick anyway.

Quarter of ten.

To the west it’s deep blue sky, puffy gray clouds in the east. I had a tuna salad sandwich for breakfast. Yesterday was my baptismal birthday but no one remembers it, including me usually. By now I’ve shunted away my Lutheran brainwashing while my education comes back somewhat. It’s hard to tell education from forcible indoctrination; and again, the mind is probably just along for the ride, a byproduct of biological forces. There is peace in kismet.


Quarter of eight PM.

Today was both boring and interesting by turns. I was home all day except this morning, yet I had some news to stimulate my brain. Polly told me on the phone that her long-lost son called her Thursday night. Evidently he was camped out near a tiny town on the border of Oregon and California. She said it was a bittersweet talk. It’d been seven years since she had heard from him. But now she doesn’t know if she’ll keep up the contact because you can’t tell whether he’s lying or speaking truth. Something about my nephew’s life is like the wanderings of the poor monster in Frankenstein, alive in the world and yet unwanted by it and other from it like the incarnation of the sublime. I think what my sister doesn’t realize is that the more she denies responsibility for her son, the more he’ll feel that he was never wanted in the first place, and the worse his behavior will get. I was actually surprised to hear he was still alive. I only remember how he was scapegoated in his childhood and whipped with his dad’s belt whenever something went wrong for the family’s fortunes. Ugh. The family of five conveniently forgot everything that really happened and pins all the blame on Scott. But a child can’t be held responsible for himself at such an early age: adults are giants to little children. And you can’t deny the fact of behaviorism or learning theory: people are products of nurture as well as nature. I attribute this story to my sister’s ignorance of psychology and maybe of life in general. But it’s all just a terrible tragedy; and we’ll see how my sister decides on pursuing communication with her youngest son and if she breaks her pattern.


One o’clock.

It’s a mixed up kind of day. I didn’t get to market until noon because of a phone conversation with my sister that lasted almost two hours. My case manager is baffled by the email I sent him last night, so maybe my impressions were inaccurate regarding our last visit. But all I know is how I felt during that time: like a person under interrogation. It’s difficult to describe, and I might be all wet. What usually happens in mid October in my life? Except for the smoky air it would be a beautiful afternoon. I think old fashioned psychoanalysis is interesting, but it’s a language no one uses very much today. If we turn a blind eye to a certain fact, does the fact go away? Are the truths of psychology merely what people dream up and make terminology about? I don’t believe the things we neglect simply vanish. Or maybe we’ll see a Renaissance of psychodynamic theory not too long from now. Maybe it’s already underway but just not in Oregon. The trends are capricious and ever changing.

I feel like a child swinging a baton at a piñata in a dark room.


Eight forty.

Today should also be calm and quiet. It’s a gray day with fog. Nothing extraordinary met my gaze for the trip to market. A guy with narrow set eyes staring straight ahead passed me on the sidewalk yesterday and today, no greeting. He looked stumped and baffled by some riddle of the Sphinx, as if life was too much for him to cope with. But here I’m using my imagination for knowledge that’s probably false. Nobody has all the answers anyway. Not even Aristotle could unravel it were he resurrected for that very purpose (to loosely quote Cervantes)… I heard some foul language at the store but nobody cares about that these days— or not at a small business at eight in the morning. But on second thought, how come I just mentioned it? Maybe it bugged me a little… My dad has been gone now for 23 years. Losing my mother was far more catastrophic, and it contributed to my drinking problem. Eventually I sort of forgot why I was drinking huge amounts. The absurd reasoning went, I ought to be dead with my mother. I could see no purpose in remaining behind after she was gone. I think this is called devotion.

Ten o’clock. Now I see that the guy with the glazed eyes on the sidewalk was actually me.

A Pop Culture Myth

Ten forty at night.

I just figured out one of my dreams, and it dealt with the father figure of darkness, specifically the relationship of Luke with Darth Vader. Star Wars is such a pop culture phenomenon that it’s virtually public domain and a part of the collective consciousness. It can be the source of feelings of paranoia. Luke knows what he can or can’t do that will piss his father off to bring persecution on his head. Is it a form of castration anxiety? Vader, as his father, is authoritarian, and good when he is pleased or terrible when angry. Luke is free to do anything but cut himself loose from his evil destiny. When he rebels, he’d better be prepared to face the worst of his father’s wrath concentrated on him, sort of like Job when he challenges God and the latter terrifies him with extreme displays of weather… So I half awoke, knowing that a misstep in this or that direction could ignite the father’s fury. Then I got up to write this post. And I remind myself of my father’s date of demise this Friday.