Warts and Wings

For two nights now I’ve skipped my medication, though I couldn’t tell you why exactly. In the middle of the night last night, I dreamed that I met Ron my old supervisor again, and he was quite friendly and benevolent. He sat in a chair with someone else, maybe Sandy or Amy. At first I saw the back of his head, a big round head like a basketball with black hair, and I thought, That’s Ron. It’s interesting how a dream tends to idealize people. Another time I had a dream about Vicky from the little market, in reality a sassy little vixen who lost her job due to her mouth, but my dream made her very pleasant and even nice to be around. I dreamed that she got a better job as a banker or something like that, something more respectable and profitable than store clerk. Thus, what a dream does is to fulfill a wish and make people more or less perfect. The truth about Ron was he was an alcoholic and a few other things not so rosy. Actually, the truth is neither all good nor all bad. It can be tough to choose between real and ideal, or a waking perception and dream. The reality has warts and the ideal has gossamer wings to fly. It makes you wonder how the human mind came to be a colonizer of dreams in one mode and a passive receiver of impressions in the other. And which one is more adaptive and advanced than the other. Probably the opposition of both modes is indispensable for a healthy human mind.

In one of his books, Jung says there are two kinds of thinking, directed and undirected. But I don’t know if he covered the issue of why the unconscious is so romantic or why the ego sees things mostly as they are. Freud may be more specific on this point, though he saw it all as biology and the drive to survive and reproduce.

Tonight I’ll probably take my medication again although I hate how it blocks my emotions and feelings and dreams, the stuff that makes people human and life worthwhile, depending on your values. It’s like a shotgun approach to blocking the delusions associated with schizophrenia, and it works a little too well. Kind of like feast or famine, and never a perfect balance of reason and imagination. Indeed I think the majority of people are emotional thinkers, and maybe that’s why their judgment is unrealistic usually. I think Jane Austen describes it very well in a fiction like Sense and Sensibility. Marianne is the sister full of passion, but her perceptions are often inaccurate for that reason. I think Austen favors Elinor for her level judgment and common sense. The other one jumps to extremes and categorically blesses or condemns the people she meets. All in all, the book is like a study in cognitive therapy.


Good Fortune


I once heard an anecdote from a peer in recovery about some friends he knew. Apparently, their car had run out of gas and they were stuck someplace with no gas can or service station nearby. So, like good Christians, they resorted to faith to help their situation. They gathered around the car and prayed over the empty fuel tank to make the car run. I guess God would either put gasoline in the tank or make the car go without fuel… It’s just an example of an extreme that Americans went through twenty years ago and I had the good fortune to hear about. During the time I had a job with the agency, life was quite an intellectual desert, though I met a precious few rational people who were a pleasure to know. These occasions were rare, but I appreciated them while the rest of the world had gone off the deep end. The Rush CD that came out in May 2007 was like a love letter to me, expressing my own sentiments exactly. Otherwise my existence was very lonely and damned, as if I was a pariah for a reason I couldn’t fathom.

It pays to persist and persevere. I really had no choice.

On an Even Keel

Quarter after seven.

Aesop is hot to trot for breakfast. Very soon he’ll get it and I’ll probably go buy groceries. Outside it’s cloudy. I feel tired and most people are not very happy. Everyone could use a lift in spirits. The starting place for this is ourselves.

Quarter after eight.

Or more precisely, myself.

The song in my head is cheerful enough: “Cross the Heartland” by Pat Metheny Group. American Garage is a classic, though very old, released in 79. The bass guitar that Mark Egan used on the album was put together by Jaco, which he gave to Metheny, from what I understand. Egan started out as a trumpet player and then he met Jaco at the University of Miami. I really liked A Touch of Light, his solo CD of 1988. “Bombay Way” is a lot of fun. At the time I first heard it, I was a student in English bombarded with reading homework, so I needed a break from so many words.

It’s raining right now. Not everything is going wrong. Sometimes one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, or so it seems to the depressed person. So then you look for evidence to the contrary. This is a rational response to a cognitive distortion. You only run into trouble when you’ve given up on reason. People tend to amplify the negative things out of proportion.

I should give myself a refresher course in cognitive therapy.

Eric Berne

Nine twenty five.

The ground is still wet since the overnight rains but the clouds seem to be breaking up to let in some sun. It’s windy and kind of cold. The Friday conversation with my sister almost didn’t happen; at the last minute I called her at eleven, an hour later than usual. It’s interesting how a chat can be dominated by one side or the other, as though from the parent to the child and the reverse. People often take turns dominating and submitting; but this relation is not the ideal way. Rational exchanges are adult to adult, according to the theories of Eric Berne: by now rather dated yet still useful for getting along with others. It’s just kind of silly to ride the seesaw with a person, being on top or the bottom instead of level together. Talking up or down to people isn’t much fun. It is neither civilized nor very informed. Strange how theories and practices go in and out of vogue, depending on what the times demand. Are there any eternal verities, truths that are independently valid at all times?

Meeting in Sleep

Quarter of eleven.

It was a beautiful day of sunshine and partial cloudiness, though I felt very tired from the day before and had to rest.

Sometimes I think wouldn’t it be nice if people could see the naked truth of each other without political disguises; if we could meet each other in our sleep and dream a common dream. What would be the disadvantage of this? Why can’t we ditch all shallow protocol and love each other like some of the other primates do? But we call each other degenerate for even thinking this. We think it’s enough to put it in poetry and leave it there. Meanwhile we socialize with our machines and let our souls rot. People really want to be generous and kind, the deeper you go into the oversoul.

Do we define humanity in terms of reason or feeling? It’s the endless historical tug of war.

Blindness and Sight

Noon hour.

I went too long without eating anything, so the caffeine went right to my head and knocked out my logic. When Gloria left for the day, I had lunch immediately. It’s been stormy and sunny by turns today, like a temperamental old man in charge of the weather. Now I feel kind of tired and a little disappointed about the rest of my day. Maybe I’ll stroll over to the market again. Or pick a book to read and learn something new. I’m curious about skepticism, this whole thing of doubting the hard work of logicians and other organizers of knowledge. Did the skeptics have an agenda? What was the conclusion of their arguments?

Quarter of eleven.

The aim of skepticism, from my understanding of Sextus Empiricus, was liberation from mental disturbance as a result of suspending judgment of the truth of anything. Thus, skepticism is more like a religious practice than a philosophical endeavor to discover truth. In its original form, Epicureanism was rather similar: the goal was to minimize pain by eliminating fear of death and the gods. Also by keeping life simple. As one translator put it, Hellenistic philosophy was a discipline of the heart instead of the head.

But I still need to learn how Montaigne might have distorted skepticism to a despair of the facts and a regression to primitive faith.

In my opinion, life without the light of reason is not worth living. My motive for saying this is my personal experience with madness, which is like mental blindness. Do we really want to stumble through life blindfolded?

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. 



I slept three hours. Dreamt about my little edition of Sandburg that’s gone through two or three copies because I give them away. This reminds me to finish reading the Whitman selection and make my comparison study of both poets. The birthday yesterday is finally over and the holidays completed. Each season feels different, perhaps a bit weirder than the last since I quit drinking… In the middle of the night there isn’t much to see, so I must use my imagination if I can. Short of that, I can putz with my journal and hope for a revelation of some kind: be the subject of my experiment like Dr Jekyll.

Two o’clock morning.

I had a little insight regarding my brother and the nature of his alcoholism, but it’s his business so I won’t go into it here. I’ll just say generally that everything people do is motivated by a sense of duty or what we believe is right. This is the meaning of “rationality.” We could never do wrong if we didn’t believe in a warped way that we were doing the right thing. Behind every behavior there’s a process of thought— for even the most self harming patterns. To correct the thinking hopefully fixes the behavior.

Humans are rational beings.

Judge for Yourself

Wee hours.

I had a better day yesterday; I only have to straighten out the situation with my case manager. Thanks to him, my utility bill was zero dollars again this month. And Aesop still has dry dog food from the 40 pound bag of Pedigree that Cassidy provided. It was just something flukey about last Monday afternoon, I suppose. I don’t feel like apologizing for anything. I’m too independent to be patronized by anyone: maybe that’s what I felt that day. Meanwhile, another church Sunday is coming up and I know I won’t go. It’s the same kind of thing: I don’t need assistance with my point of view; I do just fine on my own. Nature gives us a brain for a reason, and that is for thinking. Many people don’t realize they are entitled to think for themselves on issues of metaphysics and ethics— without the interference of others who are supposedly more qualified to judge the truth. This is a real problem with American society today. Individuals have every right to be their own poet or prophet. You don’t have to defer to some “spiritual leader” to know about your identity and your world. In fact, the only one who can know these things is you. The demise of human reason is a terrible waste. Don’t trust a pastor or a therapist for knowledge of yourself. Use your own five senses and your rational mind for information about what’s what. If you don’t, then your journey through life will be the journey of a complete stranger. 

Doggie Logic

Wee hours.

The dead of night. No store is open until seven o’clock except the 24 hour places like 7 Eleven and WinCo, or Shari’s restaurant, all of which are too far to walk to. My dog seems happier now because I figured out the cause of his bitter mood. It’s funny to discuss him as if he had human feelings, but he’s very smart for a canine, and reason is the same no matter where it occurs in the universe. Aesop has no understanding of music, but his verbal comprehension is good, and he even has elementary math ability; he knows basic quantities, and more-than or less-than. I would beg to differ with something I read by Loren Eiseley about the uniqueness of human intellect, as though only people had a soul, and the world was kind of waiting for us to arrive on the scene. He wrote some nonsense about the “finger of God” in evolution. He seems to think that human beings hold a privileged place in the cosmos, which is true enough, but it doesn’t mean that we have a monopoly on reason. Even Plato believed that the universe is imbued with an essence of reason. It wouldn’t matter which species came to ascendency, so it was rather accidental that humanity was the one. As it is, dogs are capable of dreams.