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. 

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The King of Pain

Six forty.

We’re supposed to get some rain today. The streets were wet when I was outdoors for my grocery trip and it was black as ink, but I didn’t get rained on. I saw the edges of clouds white against the black heavens before I started pussyfooting my way on the blind streets. The occasional streetlights helped a little, or the light from approaching cars from N Park to the south. Today I go back to being alone as usual but my mind is getting clearer with the exit of summer and the cooler climate. My sense of duty tells me I should call my sister by the end of the week because she’ll be lonely: maybe it’ll be better if we keep it short. I observed to myself earlier this morning that religion often turns racism into a principle. I just can’t accept that anymore no matter where it comes from. The woes of the world do not stem from Black Lives Matter or whatever some people imagine. While I feel badly for my sister, I don’t share her ideas on social issues. It may seem like I’m picking a fight, but in reality the fights pick me, and this is the story of my life. Moreover, my illness seems to be the price I pay for the attitudes of my family; it never started with me. It all came down upon my head like a doom. Now the day is risen behind a gray shroud. It should be a quiet kind of day for reflection.

A Kind of Ultimatum

I got to feeling overwhelmed earlier today so I took a pill and a nap for a while. I called Polly this morning and the conversation was kind of complicated after we hung up and I thought about it. The overwhelmed feeling came from being pulled in two opposite directions politically and socially at once. Also I’d forgotten to take my AP medication last night… It’s quite a hot day now. The vendor of ice cream just drove his van up my street. It would’ve been good to try more Mallarme but there’s still tonight. At one o’clock I went and bought a bag of potato chips to snack on. I noticed how hot it felt outside; oppressive in the direct sunlight, literally pushing down. I didn’t see much else worthy of note. These days seem so confusing to me, mostly in a political way, everybody so polarized and some people really outspoken and brash about their racism. From what I can determine, attitudes towards race and ethnicity are the key issue in all the hoopla. Polly keeps bringing up Black Lives Matter as if people of color were blameworthy for everything wrong with her little world. Gloria is also very hostile to blm, saying how deeply she resents it. But I don’t feel that way at all, though being around such conservatives can rub off on me and cause problems in my mind.
It’s all just a great big mess. Maybe I should fire Gloria and not worry about the PCA stuff anymore. I could call Comagine and just say I don’t think things are working out. After that I could spend more time at my church, where attitudes are more fair minded and progressive (Lutherans are great this way). In fact, all up and down Maxwell Road I get a feeling of liberal politics in the air. I think it’s very cool, and people are relaxed and laid back, sort of laissez faire. You see more people of color nowadays, too. This is the direction we’re going in, like it or lump it. And as for WordPress, I don’t care much about it anymore.

Von Trapped

Quarter of eleven.

I just had an interesting conversation with my sister on the phone; and what she said is similar to what many people have been saying lately about the loss of beauty in everyday life. She told me she cried numerous times while watching The Sound of Music with her Amazon Prime subscription last night. But her thought was like mine: people care less for beautiful things and go for lots of money. She also said that people are very selfish. Where I disagree with her is in blaming Black Lives Matter for these developments of the past three years. I guess it’s a thing of her generation or maybe the limits of her understanding. I don’t know, but I feel kind of ashamed of her attitudes concerning race and ethnicity. To her, a perfect world would be like the Von Trapp Family Singers: everyone white as a sheet and standing on the top of the Austrian Alps. My own knee jerk is to say there’s something wrong with this picture. We can’t rewind the tape to 1964; it’s impossible. Nor is it really desirable to do that. Am I alone in thinking this way? 

Rethinking Edgar Rice

Well I guess I’d better quit talking about Edgar Rice Burroughs. Maybe even Nietzsche as well. I was just reading and skimming the “introduction” to the loa Princess of Mars: it’s full of venom and swear words and name calling regarding the author. Junot Diaz has a point. Burroughs is not very politically correct, but Diaz goes further to accuse him of fantasies of slumming on top of colonialism, etc etc. I can almost agree with his points about white domination. He uses the word “superman” at least once, which also makes Nietzsche suspect. In a way, it’s kind of good; it stimulates me to rethink the whole topic of Burroughs and his creations. And perhaps Nietzsche really did go too far with the ubermensch notions. And what’s the difference between the Aryan race of Hitler and the white superheroes of Burroughs?

I don’t know! These ideas are New School. I feel how dated my education is. But even so, I want to take refuge in my old classics, the things that make me feel good. Like Greek philosophy, even though you have to remember that it’s elitist and sometimes eugenic, possibly dangerous stuff. Is there a reason why people don’t study philosophy anymore?

The world has changed a great deal while I was drinking my life away.

Todd approved a prescription for me of the gabapentin for anxiety as needed. So now I have that insurance for emergencies. I didn’t really enjoy my excursion today. It’s a sunny day and beautiful but my heart feels rather heavy, and I’m a bit nervous. The cabbie today said something like, “My give a shit is busted.” I guess my problem is caring too much, though I’m getting better about this.

Prejudice

Quarter after five AM.

Today is a new day. The trees outside are black silhouettes against the first light with scudding lavender clouds. I look forward to playing the bass again this midday. At seven o’clock the store opens, but maybe I’ll put off my hike to when there are more people out doing things. Though on a Sunday, this could be never. I won’t go to church; it was a mistake to ever start going there. But I suppose everything has its pros and cons, and there’s a season for everything, as Ecclesiastes put it. Just not now. I don’t like it when Christians sing songs about the “perfidious Jews.” The slowest place to accept new ideas is always the Church, so I don’t have much patience with prejudice anymore. Most people need a common cause to feel righteous about, but this makes an out-group of others who disagree, and they are seen as the enemy. Pretty soon you have a situation like a war going on, or a ghetto. Ezra Pound’s project was to expose the roots of war, and he ended up blaming it on the practice of usury, or moneylending. It was probably just an excuse for his antisemitism. So much of psychology is ethnocentric these days. I’m waiting for a time when reason prevails over the religious instinct that people can’t seem to live without. I wonder if we can really do this.

Over the Hump Day

Seven fifty five.

I am somewhere between comfortable and irritable right now. I just got up. Yesterday afternoon I found an old cassette tape of Sportin’ Life by Weather Report, a throwback to the mid Eighties when I was in college. I didn’t listen to it, though seeing it put me in a strange mood. My ideas in the summer of 1988 started out Kantian and gradually morphed to something like Freud, including a view of the unconscious. I barely had a handle on psychoanalytic concepts; sort of arrived at them independently, but I think Freud was in the atmosphere of my school. Whatever the ideology of a certain place, I tend to sponge it up.

Nine thirty. At the store, another customer and I negotiated over who was next in line. She said quite honestly that she was not in a hurry to get to work. I ended up going ahead of her, but she got served right away because Michelle used both registers. Now I’m thinking that I kind of miss having a job, however I don’t miss the culture of working and drinking. My sister was right: I cut my own swath away from the family, not without a little regret. It would’ve been impossible for me to do it their way. I’ve put aside the shame and just moved ahead with life… It’s sunny with a breeze in the trees. It was 48 degrees out when I made my daily pilgrimage. A homeowner on Fremont Avenue is re roofing her house. A guy in a huge black cowboy hat said good morning while the workers tore up the old roof. For two days now, the white ghost truck has been back in front of Derek’s house: no Confederate plates. At least the truck was real. I didn’t hallucinate. Times are very strange. 

The Door

Nine o’clock.

It’s strange, but every time I post something about racism and racial justice, hardly anyone likes what I have to say. Has our world fallen so low that equality is not obvious to everyone? All other things being kind of gray, one truth is absolute: that there is no excuse for racial hate, no matter what your level of education or any other circumstances. Even when a public figure sets a bad example, we ought to know what is right by instinct. I doubt if there are any racist babies in the world, so be mindful what you teach them. If I lose any followers due to this post, then I’ll show you the door and usher you on your way to a reality I don’t share. 

An Old Tortoise

Seven o’clock.

The store was quite busy even though it was so early in the morning. I had on my “sapphire” hoodie with the hood up and I moved like an old tortoise at the checkout counter, so Michelle scrambled to help other customers at the adjacent register. The daylight was just barely coming and the streetlights were still on, and now it’s a gray overcast. A guy from Derek’s house pulled out of the driveway and passed me by on N Park Avenue, and I automatically thought of the “ghost” truck with a white supremacist message. If you didn’t learn anything in seventh grade social studies, then you never will. I have no sympathy for such people… I paid cash for Aesop’s Milk Bones and peanut butter treat. On the whole trip I took my time, scuffling up and down the pavements and defying the breakneck pace of this world, daring it to act as it thinks. Probably I looked like old Father Time hobbling along in blue clothing and scoffing at people. But no; actually I was just a poor disabled guy walking invisible on the quiet streets of the suburbs, unseen and ineffectual. 

A Word, a Wall

Quarter after six.

I’m considering making an early trip to the store…

While I was there, I saw a few Black people. The storefront looked warm and inviting as I came up to the double door. I thought fleetingly of my brother and then disposed of him. It’s a cloudy morning. The landscape from along the Maxwell sidewalk reminded me of November a few years ago, and I remembered how afraid I was of people’s criticism. I’m in much better shape now, or perhaps the health organization I dealt with was really lousy with respect to people with schizophrenia… I’d forgotten that the Oregon Ducks won the Rose Bowl in 2012. This fact was advertised on a green sign by the beer cooler. Both parties of customers ahead of me ordered biscuits and gravy, so I stood there waiting patiently. Sometimes I think of Vicki when I’m at the market, but today I didn’t. Frankly she wasn’t a very nice person… I have to be ready to go at nine o’clock to be at Laurel Hill by ten for my appointment with Heidi. I’m still not very awake yet.

Quarter of eight. It’s interesting that being okay with yourself is a matter of balancing positives and negatives. Guilt and shame are the worst feelings you can experience, so it’s good to eliminate them. On the asphalt in the middle of Fremont Street, someone had spray painted the word “Gay” in red. So there it was in writing, the wall that everybody comes up against. It really doesn’t surprise me for this part of the city, this stupid conservative suburb.