Pedigree

One twenty five in the morning.

“Consider yourself one of the family… it’s clear we’re going to get along…”

To use plainer English, I relate to the misfits in Shakespeare because I feel that an outsider cannot buy, beg, borrow, or steal his way into a religious organization, like me trying to find a place in the Lutheran church. A person must have a pedigree in order to fit into the big Christian universe, but I was brought into this world out of wedlock, fathered by a man who had been adopted after being abandoned by his biological parents… It is all well and fine for the human race to organize into Christendom or a Shakespearean aristocracy, yet my heart bleeds for others like myself, the outcast renegades and rebels with all odds against them. A small thing like alcoholism is a drop in the bucket next to the spiritual alienation that people like me experience. Surely the “redeemer” for the elect is different from that for the reprobate? I reckon time will tell. We may not have long to wait.

Honor Your Father and Mother

Two o’clock in the afternoon.

I don’t really know what I’m writing for. Since I left the church, there’s been no one to argue with, so my own beliefs go unchallenged. Now at peace, and with the weather halfway decent, I could take a little walk over to the market to get something tasty and fun, like ice cream or a bag of Doritos and chunky salsa.

It feels odd to be wiped clean of everything philosophical or theological, leaving pure aesthetics. I have no more fight left in me, but also nothing to fight over.

Three o’clock. The clouds are gigantic over the little community. I suddenly think of how my parents used to read light fiction, stuff on the bestseller list that they didn’t have to ponder much. While they did that, I read heroic fantasies, but nothing headier than Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy. My mother said we were living on the surface. I reckon there’s nothing wrong with that. Her hero was Michelangelo, along with Shakespeare and Poe: whoever she considered original. And yet she never read that kind of thing. Instead it was historical fiction and romances mostly, like John Jakes, James Michener, and their imitators. My parents both read Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, and Lawrence Saunders.

If the unexamined life is not worth living, then still I won’t say my parents were unworthy people. They gave me everything they had, so how could I be ungrateful? This was a disagreement I had with the church. Who’s to condemn others for being thoughtless hedonists? It strikes me as a very profound problem, itself like something in a Camus book. Not to mention that it’s one of the Ten Commandments…

Americans

My journal is a cool place for figuring things out. This past evening I wrote an idea dealing with my solution to alcoholism using the church. Basically I said that the ritual of worship, repeated again and again, was a form of self hypnosis, and it worked to stop my addiction. As such, it was a psychological thing and not necessarily theological in a literal way. The details of course are debatable, but even Jung couldn’t make the jump from psychology to metaphysics per se. Then towards the end, when Pastor talked of demonic possession as the cause of mental illness, I knew it was hyperbolic and I had to get out of there. I found his attitude offensive and really not very kind to people with schizophrenia; in fact he was ignorant of the truth about psychiatry.
Oh well, my explanation usually falls on deaf ears, and I’m getting sick of it. Suffice it that the agency is a much safer place for me now than the church, and that poor Pastor is full of beans, with his head buried in the nineteenth century, totally disregarding advances made after the end of World War 2.
Americans always subordinate science to religious visions that make no sense, so I think a good question to ask is, Why? If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, but the Jesus thing doesn’t function for us anymore. We have decades to go to catch up to Europe, although the case has been the same even when Henry James lived and wrote at the turn of the twentieth century. It’s a very sad situation for the United States, yet not even a writer like James could remedy it, so why do I bother?

Live and Let Live

Quarter of eight.

On my way to market I stumbled over a pair of mallard ducks on Fremont Avenue. It was raining a little, flooding out the earthworms, in turn attracting the birds that feed on them. If I’d had some bread, I would have given it to the ducks, but all I could do was admire them… Once again I’ve read an attitude from someone that goes on the moral warpath. But the reason we have morality is not for condemnation of other people, nor of ourselves. I guess I’m just a pacifist, but even Jesus says we should love our enemies and everyone else besides. He says to the accusers of the adulteress, “Whoever is without sin among you, throw the first stone at her.” And because none of them is innocent, they can’t do this. It’s a simple concept called hypocrisy, yet a lot of people don’t get it. Nobody has the right to feel judgmental towards their neighbors. Those who live in glass houses mustn’t throw stones. I’ve always liked the quote from Spinoza as follows: “Things are not more or less perfect according as they delight or offend human senses…” It is not for human beings to judge the rightness or wrongness of their fellows. And when we do sentence a person for a crime, it is without a sense of moral outrage, disgust, and so on. 

Humbug

Wee hours.

I’ve put on my scarlet Champion hoodie and a pair of dark blue jeans. Then I took my meds for the night, but I’ll be up for a while longer. The red hoodie reminds me of H— a few years ago, with whom I’ve lost touch. She became very ill from overworking herself and sleeping little, running on caffeine and nerves… Sometimes I feel I want to make everything stop. With Easter just a day away, I had an odd meditation on the fiction of Thomas Mann, especially Doctor Faustus, which implicitly deals with Schoenberg’s atonal music, inspired supposedly by the devil. Mann happened to be a Lutheran with the opinions of a Christian. But is it really fair to accuse people of demonology, especially if they are Jewish? Likewise, is it right to say that people with schizophrenia are possessed? And this is what I want to see come to an end. Ignorant people are unaware of their own ignorance, or else why do they persist in error? It does terrible violence to the mentally ill to impute demonic possession, let alone to attempt a deliverance or exorcism. It’s all hogwash. The real sick people are the Christians. Easter may come, but I’m already gone. 

Ice Cream

Quarter of six.

Today I get to stay home and relax and rest up before Gloria comes again Saturday morning. The freedom I’d desired for such a long time was actually freedom from the church. Thank goodness I’m no longer involved with organized religion, and the only “spiritual leader” is myself. In my journal I compared my mental strife with religion to a great whirlpool like the one in Poe’s “Descent into the Maelstrom,” and like the old man, I was jettisoned out of it safe and unscathed. Yesterday I read in Carl Jung where he said that human naturalism is a dangerous thing, as we see from the brutality and decadence of the Roman Empire, but I’m not buying it. He also said he didn’t care for rationalism, and the Enlightenment was a fraud. Now I’m convinced to go back to reading Bertrand Russell. The comment from Jung about human nature is similar to Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan: without the restraint of a strong Christian government we’d be at each other’s throats. But there’s no way to prove the state of nature for human beings. Stripped of all civilization, what might a person do? Go out for ice cream?

Quarter of seven. The day is coming on slate blue. I don’t need to go shopping until later today. Life is pretty good to me, so no need to question it. 

Demons

Quarter of noon.

The inside of my house is a disorganized mess, sort of like my mind. But I’ve taken the first dose of Cymbalta for my depression and we’ll see how it goes from here. The sun is out and the sky is partly cloudy right now. I didn’t care for my cabbie on my trip to the agency, but it was good to see Teri and the people at the pharmacy. I’ve been thinking: no matter what I try, nothing could have evaded the onset of schizophrenia when I was 24 years old. It’s a biological disorder, a hereditary thing that can be treated but not cured.

I hear Roger’s truck chugging back up the street. Maybe there’s a reason why I don’t value the tidiness of my house. It doesn’t seem like my own house anyway. But I don’t think second guessing myself does any good. Objectively viewed, my place is just a dirty house, the home of a schizophrenic person. Subjectively might be a different situation but I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities for psychotherapy, and religion and morality make me sick at this stage. I’m still a bit interested in Kierkegaard; but is there really a deity to fear and go on my knees to? How can anyone know for sure? 

A former pastor once told me that I was possessed by demons and needed a deliverance; but I think probably he was the one who needed help with his mental health. The world is a mixed up place full of contradiction from person to person. Never let them tell you that you’re possessed by the devil or anything so utterly off the wall. Superstition is an American thing. The United States really needs to grow up and give up its teddy bears. 

Tensions and Transcendence

Nine thirty at night.

I had a good Friday all day although I felt tired around the time of sundown and took a nap. Lately it’s occurred to me how the intellect can transcend the body and nature like something ideal and immaterial, whether you believe in philosophy or religion. The mind has an active mode that splits off from atomic matter, or it can be passive and subject to causal laws. The Stevens poem “Anecdote of the Jar” illustrates this relationship of mind and nature. But it’s hard to have this point of view if you inundate your brain with something toxic. When you fix your mind on the matter, your mind itself will be determined by nature, but it’s possible to train your thoughts on the Ideal to transcend the material world. This could be a function of pure reason, another word for intellect, but the terminology is variable depending on the discipline you choose.

Ten twenty five.

Our Redeemer church will meet in person for worship service this Sunday, but I’m not going because of Pastor’s political attitudes towards the pandemic, which tend to be divisive and discriminatory. He’s telling us to stay home if we haven’t had a booster shot. The impact of this is almost like segregation. But he doesn’t have to worry about me staying home. I hadn’t planned on attending anyway. 

Effect Like Murdoch

Ten thirty at night.

When I set out on foot for the veterinarian I was bareheaded with no hood or umbrella. About an hour after I returned home it started to rain, missing me as if by providence. Also provident was the phone call I received as I was ambling back on Armstrong Avenue, with the news that my PCA had been approved and after a couple more steps could begin her job for me. The thoughts I’d been having were totally unrelated to these events, and also the circumstance of my walking to the veterinary hospital to treat Aesop’s fleas. The whole scenario together feels like an Iris Murdoch novel, particularly Under the Net or The Bell. Detached from the world of natural and social events, a mystic reality is playing itself out for an overall tragicomic effect for the characters. The mundane reality goes on uninfluenced by the sublime, yet that allegorical level is still there, making you wonder why. So out of nowhere, we see a stay of the rain or a phone call from somewhere remote, with celestial laws inscrutable to humans on earth. Once in a while, life bears a resemblance to art to make an effect like Iris Murdoch: something mysterious like a dream. 

Reveille!

Five twenty five.

Since my visit with Misty yesterday morning, my brain finally made a connection and I did a little research on the homeless mentally ill. I realized also that my sister and her park ranger son were ignorant about the situation. Their attitudes are moralistic and damning of the homeless, not bothering to try to understand how and why people end up that way. They ascribe evil motives to their behavior as if they were “responsible” for their fates, but really, things just happen to people. It’s not a human problem, but rather a clinical problem, and religion has nothing to do with it. At least 25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill, and as many as 45 percent have any kind of mental illness… Now I recall my church’s incomprehension of mental illness when Katie passed away and we had her memorial service last fall: it was so embarrassing. And I was another schizophrenic person looking on, a witness to the whole thing. And then Pastor with his sermons on demonic possession and other crap! Americans need a wake up call to reality, and reality is certainly nothing spiritual. We need a revival of science in our culture before Dark Age America seals its own doom.