Vision

Nine twenty five.

The cold I caught a week ago is nearly gone, though I still have mental fog and floaters in my vision. Gloria brought back my book on Australian aborigines, having read the whole thing. I sit here, convalescent, while she vacuums the carpets and hardwood floor.

Noon.

She’s gone again till Tuesday, and on my end, I feel very weak and still sick. But my thinker isn’t busted, at least not yet. The rain began in earnest about an hour ago, so now the scene has a silvery sheen mixed with the verdant flora; it’s a blur of green and gray. A while back I thought of the understated style of Paul Bowles as it relates to the indifference of nature and the cosmos. The gray ambiguity is everywhere with us, but it’s also up to people to define our existence and form it above the shapeless chaos. The microcosm, man, has decayed because the universe no longer makes sense. But it’s really the other way around: we have to exalt what is beautiful in ourselves and paint the Void with it. I’ve dreamed something like this before. The idea is nothing new since the time Faulkner started writing almost a century ago… The rain has ceased falling temporarily, but the meaning of it depends on my imagination. And a collective imagination can make the difference between the Pit and a life worth living… I frequently feel tempted to bend my steps back to church. But this means subordination to the pastor’s vision, and he is only a mortal like everybody. It’s so hard to know what to do. Just keep writing…

Money

Gloria was here this morning and she vacuumed the family room but with a very inconvenient tool, a Compact machine from back in the sixties with a section of the hose missing, forcing her to stoop over the whole time. She told me it hurt her back. I felt bad about that, so I guess I have to think about buying a new vacuum cleaner. But on the bright side, the work she did on the green carpet looks fantastic, and after a shampooing it’ll be divine. I do have a Eureka upright vacuum cleaner missing the dirtbag; I could look on Amazon for a replacement bag before I invest in something totally new. And then we made another trip to the thrift store to drop off more stuff I don’t need anymore. The weather grew rather inclement at that point; it rained and hailed on us, though by the time we got back home there was blue sky in the west. Springtime is sometimes a blustery mixed bag here in Oregon. I kind of like it when I’m feeling okay.

Before I took a nap I read two more chapters in my Henry James novel. Somehow the story reminds me a little of Jane Austen and her concerns with marriage, especially among the wealthy classes in America (now I mean Henry James) and in Europe. This makes me think very regretfully of my college education and the unfairness of social class in this country and everywhere. In a heartbeat a person in a privileged position can slip through the cracks and be a pauper with nothing to his name. So that I think Henry James is rather shallow in ignoring such realities as poverty and woe, because intelligent people exist at every level of society. Now I think writers like Twain and Melville were much more aware of the truth of money and the people who have it and the ones who don’t. I even have to give credit to Charles Dickens for having open eyes and ears to people at every stratum of our social structure. Just imagine not having a car! And yet this is my situation here today: a pedestrian in the direst of poverty. What would James say to the homeless population here in America? Would he turn a blind eye and go on sipping his English tea in the afternoon, on the green lawn with the Thames River meandering down the hill apace, and his back to an old Tudor mansion?

Ubiquity

Ten thirty at night.

It must be raining harder now because I can hear it in the darkness outside. When I was three years old I assumed that rain in one place meant it was raining everyplace. One day I said this to my mother. She chuckled and explained to me the truth of the weather, and that was my first step away from egocentrism. Every child goes through this stage, and if they don’t, then there’s something wrong. It is similar to the attitude that “the world is my picture book” that you find in Schopenhauer and in Poe’s Eureka. Objects exist as long as I am looking at them. But the fact is that they exist even without your perception of them. No individual is the center of the universe. It’s a short trip from Jung’s synchronicity to psychotic delusions of reference in which everything pertains to you alone. It’s a kind of radical subjectivism. I guess some people can live that way, and some do indeed. They exist in a condition of make believe where anything is possible, from flying reindeer to the resurrection of the body even after cremation. I wonder how they perceive the rain; is it ubiquitous to them, as to a three year old? 

Last Words

The old psychiatrist used to say, if you’re looking for it, you’ll find it. I often believe that politics and sociology are responsible for my personal thoughts, but this is impossible to show, and it may be a delusion of thought insertion. Suffice it that I’ve been unwell for the past month. I can blame anybody I want but it doesn’t achieve anything. I was able to concert my brain enough to play my bass this afternoon, which sounded great. I really like FretWire kits, Omega bridges, and Rotosound stainless steel strings. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your gear to sound like a pro.

Quarter of midnight.

My mind is a blank, my mind’s eye void. Philosophy is very involved with language, and is it really conceivable to see reality beyond the scope of our words? I’m a naive optimist about that. Reality for a person with aphasia does not simply dissolve to nothing. It still remains but without the names. The church pastor was probably a pessimist on the same issue: knowledge depends on speech, on language and words; in the beginning was the word, etc etc. But what happens if you do slip under the net of language? Is there still a language of feeling, like music? And what do objects look like with no names? This would be my last argument with Pastor Dan, living in his little sphere of words upon words and sermon after sermon: words words words in an endless flow like a stream which you follow to the sea— or to a desert drought where reality ends. But that’s just it: does reality vanish where there are no words? For the answer to this I should revisit Shelley’s poetry. 

Bread Alone

Quarter of ten.

We’re having a complete power outage right now, which means no Wi-Fi for talking with Sean this morning. I’ve reported the blackout to the utility company. I don’t know how long it will last… Now it’s back on. At the same time it’s beginning to rain. I was thinking a while ago that as long as consciousness remains a mystery, philosophy has a future if people have any interest for it. Modern neuroscience says consciousness is an emergent property of brain function, but it doesn’t say how this actually works, and how objectivity flips over to subjectivity. If science ever explains this phenomenon, then philosophy is probably doomed to perish. As it is, it’s nearly defunct as a discipline. Another thought I had was about my mother’s apparent madness, but I’m not qualified to diagnose her in hindsight. She needed to get an evaluation from a psychiatrist, which she was unwilling to do, so we’ll never know. The rain is coming down hard just now.

Eight twenty five (next day).

Still thinking on freedom, etc. The problem with existentialism is that it lacks common sense; it denies the world outside of your head in a kind of radical subjectivism only to prove a point. But the reality is that people need to eat.

I’ve seen Michelle a couple of times now and she seems to be doing okay. It’s good to see her back working again. The street sweeper just passed up and down my street: he needs to eat also. 

Sanity

Quarter of eight.

We’ve got rain showers today. This is better than the lifeless weather of the last few days. I have to go to the pharmacy for my prescription tomorrow or Friday. Also I should go to the bank soon. For some reason I’ve had ideas that are more spiritual than realistic lately, but I want to shake them. I don’t know what drove me to read a few things out of my ordinary. Yesterday I thought about Dostoevsky all over again: Karamazov to me is the battleground for religion and materialism. It’s possible that I’m not doing so well with the schizophrenia. A lot of people exist in a half world between imagination and reality, not knowing their empirical science, hence the difference between fiction and fact. Today I just want to go out and direct my senses outward, appreciating the support of ordinary objects and natural things. In other words, be an anti poet for just a day. Ever since Christmas Eve my dreams have gone out of control. Part of me says why not let fantasy run amok, but I know it’s really not healthy to allow it to overgrow my logic… Yesterday I took a risk on the potato salad and it turned out great. The time before, the salad was inedible so I had to toss it out. Nobody will consider this of vast importance… 

Fantasy

Eleven twenty at night.

I got out of bed hearing an old song by The Pretenders, a ballad called “Brass in Pocket.” It takes me back to junior high school halls and the afternoons when I’d go to Safeway or Oregon Foods with my mother, perusing the paperback titles on the stands. Things were so different then, just the cultural attitudes and the protocols and rituals that people obeyed. I never had a girlfriend at that age or went to a dance at my school, probably because my mother dominated my life for her loneliness and her need for a friend. She needed to assert herself in a different way than by controlling me, but in hindsight I probably wouldn’t change a single day. The summer I read Tarzan of the Apes and A Princess of Mars and drew my own illustrations for them in the morning was the happiest time I ever spent. I would sit up in my twin bed and read on sunny mornings, hearing the soft breezes in the crabapple tree outside my window, filling my senses with romantic adventure by means of the written word. I could easily imagine a blue sky with not one moon, but two. Or any new combination of shapes and colors in flora and fauna, helped by some great illustrators like Michael Whelan… I learned to escape to worlds that my imagination could control, but someday my imagination came to control me. The ultimate goal is control over your life in the real world, which the use of language and imagination couldn’t hurt. But again, my mother should’ve asserted herself in her own life instead of dominating mine. Now maybe the fly knows the way out of the bottle of fantasy… but will he choose it? 

The Pot of Gold

Nine o’clock.

It’s only a little bit foggy, and I felt a few drops of moisture on my walk. The only thing like Halloween was the crows, but you can see them any time of year. I noticed a couple of cars that were electric by their hum and I half wished I could get one for myself. Inside the market was rather cosy and comfortable. I observe what a realist I’ve become in the last ten years; hardly any imagination, but I’d like to change back to how I used to be. Or maybe I’m okay as I am. I see squirrels everywhere on my street, and hear them even more, rustling in tree branches and drumming on the roof. I haven’t read Madame Bovary, though I understand it’s about a married woman’s fantasy life when she feels trapped by her circumstances. It may not be worth my time. I think it’s a desirable thing to cultivate consciousness and not stagnate with unconscious daydreams. It’s a puzzle for me to solve. Meanwhile Aesop is getting hungry, and mouths to feed will always be the reality.

Ten o’clock. It continues cloudy. I saw a bird with an elongated tail that I believe was a woodpecker fly across the street in front of me. Are we more entertained by a horse with wings or a man with the head of a bull?… Part of me wants to take Andersen’s fairytales off the shelf. The other side of me is curious about Thomas Paine’s writings. Somewhere at the rainbow’s end the two shall meet and mingle their wisdom like a great treasure. 

Like Montaigne

Four o’clock in the morning.

I took a Vraylar pill tonight and feel pretty good, except I’m not sleepy now. I have to make up my mind about going to volunteer this morning. I’ll probably be doing well to get to church on Sunday, so don’t sweat it. I can be my own judge. Today, the store doesn’t open until seven o’clock. Also it takes longer for the daylight to dawn. For these reasons I might as well sleep in as long as I want. Suddenly it’s a flood of Debussy’s orchestral music, especially “Fetes” from the Nocturnes. I hear an arrangement of his Reverie as well, such a swelling, crushing little piece of music: and I remember being 25 years old again, with these sounds still fresh in my brain. I had a volunteer job with the American Cancer Society. I helped them move locations from Pearl Street to Oakmont Way, schlepping a lot of stuff in the late summer or early fall. The word “volunteer” must have called up this memory from long ago.

Seven ten.

Although my conscience says I should go to the food pantry and help out, I still don’t feel very great this morning and want to rest and regroup.

I’ve been to the store and back. Feeling kind of tired, and I know that the church has expectations of me; but it’s not worth it to feel guilty. I’m always just inches from quitting the congregation anyway… There’s not much intelligent life in this sector of the city. How can people read a book like Moby Dick or Huckleberry Finn and still make it consistent with Christianity? I guess they place information in different buckets and don’t try to unify it to coherence. The contradictions are allowed to coexist in their minds; but that would drive me insane. I couldn’t be like Montaigne. All of the disconnected bits and fragments of ideas beg to be stitched together in a worldview, a system, and what is incompatible with it gets tossed out. I’m not sure where I learned to do this, except I know it was in school. It’s just the way I impose sense on reality; although you know, the ones who think like Montaigne may be onto something. The truth is that reality is full of contradictions and incoherence and downright illogic.

Quarter of nine. Some people can live like an encyclopedia, with the odds and ends of information scattered about their brain. They keep their religion in a lockbox separate from everything else and let the particulars dangle, disconnected, disunited. I don’t know if I could ever do that… The sky is silver like mercury with a little sun peeking through. I’ve decided to stay home today. Maybe I’ll peruse my volume of Michel de Montaigne to see what I’ve been missing. 

Should Be versus Is

One o’clock.

I guess I don’t feel very good today, but I still will say what I mean to say, and disregard others who don’t like it. I don’t understand why there are so many Christians in the world currently. It’s like the only option for a belief system anymore, anywhere you go, and frankly it gets on my nerves… My last post at least rang true for a few people. It should do so especially for people without a dime, who are disadvantaged and dumped on by the all time winners in life. Suddenly I think of the novel Native Son, which I haven’t read yet but I probably should. Meanwhile I can read from the Harlem Renaissance books I have on hand and just try to be more open to what the so-called minorities experience.

Two twenty. I found those books on my shelf. Somebody needs to reach out and bridge the gap with people of color now, or else it may never happen again… The sky is smoky white from forest fires. I ought to take a break from the Internet for a little while and pick up a book.

Ten twenty.

I figure that, whatever happens, I’ll be okay with it. I’m too old to have a brilliant future ahead of me. Glory seeking isn’t important to me anyway. Pandemic be hanged, we have to get along with each other and try to do good. When you see something that is absolutely wrong, shouldn’t you do something to try to fix it? Divided we fall, like the systems of an organism. If one system fails, then the whole body dies, because of interdependence. This is a thing everyone should feel intuitively. Sometimes it takes a review, like going over our facts of math and science. The reality is often ugly, yet we know what is right and what needs to be done to make it more beautiful, closer to the Ideal. It’s the difference between descriptive and prescriptive: the facts just sit there, while the truth wants to make them better…