Since this morning the Rush song “Witch Hunt” has played in my head, probably for the last few lines of the lyric:
Quick to judge, quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand
I’ve heard this song be misinterpreted so ridiculously by those with ultra conservative values and attitudes, themselves the very thing the song criticizes. They are the “madmen fed on fear and lies / To beat and burn and kill.” And then I guess they just disregard the conclusion.
But it’s been on my mind for a reason today, as well as my schooldays when life was really pretty happy for me, from ninth grade to graduation from college. Others in my family tend to disparage education, saying that higher ed is impractical and a waste of time. But simultaneously they hotly resent people more knowledgeable than themselves, or just plain more intelligent. I don’t know whether the situation is fair or unfair, or who’s to blame for the inequality of it. What is the origin of inequality among people? And what am I supposed to do about the yawning chasm between me and some of my relatives? The whole thing gives me a headache. For today, I don’t regret that I’m spending Thanksgiving Day by myself with my dog. Fortunately a dog can’t argue with you or spit nails if you utter one fifty cent word.
I have an appointment for a video meeting this morning at eight o’clock. I hope it’s not very long… The clash I have with Pastor is the same as always: he’s a collectivist on the side of the majority of people while I advocate for the individual. His experience in high school was probably very different from mine. I saw a lot of kids suffer from the false oligarchy of the beautiful people. I doubt if Pastor would understand this. He doesn’t like Rush either, though the band spoke for many of us in school in the Eighties and Nineties. We learned from Rush that dreamers and misfits can overcome and be successful.
Quarter after nine.
Okay, I got the meeting over with… My sleep was troubled, riddled with thoughts of mortality and also individual freedom. Life feels like sort of a dead end today. Often I ask myself what I want out of my life, what would make me happy. I know I won’t find a friend who is exactly like me, though I’d like to meet someone with values close to mine… Is it really true that if you let go control, then you’ll get what you need? I knew someone who advised me, “They won’t come knocking on your door.” If you don’t seek for happiness, will it seek you? I have doubts about that.
Quarter after ten.
I get a haircut tomorrow. Right now there’s some wildfire smoke in the air… I don’t remember much of reading Madeleine L’Engle in the past. It’s hard for me to take it seriously. She said something about releasing control, because if you try to control things yourself then disaster will result. This presupposes a god that takes care of everything. Maybe she never heard of Voltaire: this is not the best of all possible worlds. But also I think of the young dissidents in high school who dropped out of advanced classes in protest of our indoctrination. They had a different agenda from school, which makes me curious. Perhaps they knew something that others of us didn’t know.
Same old redundant thing this morning. Even the music on the market radio was the same: “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The forecast calls for a high of 93F. At nine I’ve got Gloria today. Aesop, my dog, is spread out right on my foot. He’ll be ten years old next month and I’ll have five years clean and sober. Time really flies, but everybody knows that. Still, I wish it were fall already. I’d love to have it rain again and see and smell the leaves on the ground. Now I’ve got Nirvana stuck in my head. Currently, the trendy ideology seems to be stoicism still, which is far from the Freud I was taught in school long ago. I still see copies of Marcus Aurelius here and there. I can remember when people buzzed about narcissism all the time; and today, no one does that anymore. Last January, Carl Jung and Alan Watts were talked about a lot. To be honest, I’ve felt very lost since the rock band Rush retired after their drummer and lyricist passed away. Late last night, in my head I could hear a passage from the A side of 2112, the part with the oracle. And then this morning I thought of how 2112 kind of foretold the demise of rock and roll. I just miss the voice of the band spreading the news of freedom and happiness all over the world. What are we supposed to do when Neil Peart has flown the earth?
It’s a beautiful afternoon with a mild temperature of 72 degrees. I was just pondering why I usually feel so dissatisfied with my life, always waiting for things to get better to no avail. “Lost in losing circumstances, that’s just where you are.” What I tend to forget is that people must be proactive no matter what the circumstances are. I could be waiting here for the propitious time to act forever and nothing would get done.
I finally googled the band I played with last year and looked at their Facebook page. Apparently they did a gig last Saturday in Corvallis with the bass player from before. I guess it wasn’t a big deal— but that’s not the point. The important thing is that they’re doing it, at a time when musicians aren’t gigging much. So I should email my friend on drums to see what he’s up to.
The truth is that I’m stuck in a rut with no car for moving my stuff around. I deceive myself that I’m okay with just walking everywhere, but actually it’s a problem. And the only person who can fix it is myself. First I have to want it badly enough.
“Waiting for the rainbow’s end to cast its gold your way.”
“My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend.”
Ten fifty PM.
My day of rest went okay, but at the same time I felt lonely, and the weather was gray and dismal all the time. I just noticed something about the word “dismal.” It seems to contain two French words meaning “I say” and “evil.” Over the past few days, a song by Rush keeps coming back to haunt me. It’s the title track to Clockwork Angels. Unfortunately I lost my copy of the CD in the fire three years ago. It was the last studio album Rush made, and my Scottish friend bought it for me… I just looked it up on Amazon and apparently it came out only ten years ago, whereas I thought it was during the fall of 2011. But that’s what happens when you drink too much: memories get either lost or jumbled up, if the past is important to you. Amnesia is a scary thing to have happen. IMO it’s abnormal to have no memory whatsoever, just living in the present, or even living the same day again day after day.
I’m searching my mind for a peak experience from the last six months, and what I recall is the big snow we had in December after Christmas Day. Michelle still worked at the little store back then, and I started reading Richard Wright when I was more or less snowbound. Also I made a post featuring an impressionist painting by Monet of a village snowscape. It was a time worth remembering.
Quarter after eight.
It’s yet another gray morning in the Northwest. I haven’t thought about Les Miserables for a while. Just to finish reading it would be an accomplishment. But then the book is done and over with. It’s like saying goodbye to it… I’m uninspired and don’t know much today. Yesterday morning I noticed that the school bus was parked in the lot for Valley Restaurant Equipment across from the store. The driver was taking a coffee break. Life goes on for everybody, and yet it’s such an intellectual desert in this community. Maybe that’s why a visit to church is desirable. Somewhere there must be someone with a hungry mind. I feel kind of the way Emerson did before he broke with Christianity and commenced on his own oratory career. He is well known for saying we ought to use our own judgment to determine the truth. Nowadays, hardly anyone does this; we’re like pilot whales following the leader, often to beach ourselves aground. We are discouraged more and more from thinking for ourselves. The emphasis on unity and conformity only guarantees our ignorance, which is not bliss. The world needs another band like Rush to infuse it with curiosity and the precious thing called reason. Without this, we just keep eating cheeseburgers, fattening ourselves for the slaughter of our souls.
Clothed in Heavenly Light,
Neil Peart appeared to me
In a half waking dream
And taught me the meaning
Of his song “Heresy”
On the Rush disc of thirty years ago.
It was important to me
Not only because of the Berlin Wall
But it was the year I fell ill
With this dreaded disease
That changed the whole course
Of my life,
Giving it a purpose
Unguessed by the living,
But to Mr Peart
It makes perfect sense
In the unfathomed ways
Of the Other Side.
In a better mood this morning, I hoofed it over to the store to buy a couple of things. Heather was handling business very well on her own. I let another customer go ahead of me because he had cash. People were quite courteous to each other. On N. Park I saw a guy loading his vehicle with fishing gear and stuff, preparing for the holiday weekend. I also passed Colin’s house and reflected that I never see him outside anymore, I don’t know why. I don’t see Kat very often, either. Fear drives people to do strange things, and self preservation is the strongest instinct… The way some people hibernate in their homes, we might as well be bears living alone in the woods. I find that people are only indecent when they are out of their senses, due to substance abuse or madness of some kind. It is not our natural state to be wicked, and yet we’re so mistrustful of other people… Aesop is asking me when his breakfast is coming, so I tell him a half hour and he understands. The morning is partly sunny. Music: from Rush’s Counterparts, but there’s also a real train horn off to the southwest. I hear a mourning dove cooing somewhere near. Consciousness is a complicated thing, a system of associations with multiple layers, like peering down into a well, or at an overhead projection with different transparencies. Margaret Atwood uses these images somewhere in her fiction, probably in Cat’s Eye… And again the silence in the house overwhelms, but today it isn’t a bad thing.
Nine ten. I’m actually thankful for the peace today, and I’ve gotten my shots out of the way. It was good to talk with my sister yesterday morning. I don’t know if my family will ever accept me, or even if I care, but for now I have my sister. People can be ungrateful when you treat them kindly, or perhaps we’ll never know how they feel.
The world really is a lapsed place of blasphemy, so tomorrow morning I guess I’ll go to church, just like old times, to search for my lost innocence… At around noon yesterday, Damien and his friend came and did some important yard work for me. I felt terrible all day from the threat to my sobriety I perceive in the band. I think music is not a very safe profession if you want to stay sober. Now I’m looking for a way to transcend the fallen society that surrounds me. Last night I thought of Boethius and his Consolation of Philosophy, considering the things that are immutable, like rational love, as opposed to the things that pass transiently like the pleasures of the senses. I figured that wisdom was more important than a beer buzz, and longer lasting.
When I was a kid, and my nephews and I were turned loose in the shopping mall known as the Valley River Center, they went off to buy candy, while my destination was always the bookstore for what was imperishable: Logos, the written word. I read trashy Edgar Rice Burroughs books, yet they were good for building vocabulary. My mother helped me write my first book report for seventh grade reading class, and the book was Tarzan of the Apes. It got a perfect score from the teacher, but Kelly, the girl who sat behind me, was quite outraged at my success. Once during this class I was reading The Moon Maid and David accused me for looking at a book with a naked lady on the cover. Mrs Cheleen passed it off because I was her pet student— and after all, she was right: there was nothing wrong with reading Edgar Rice Burroughs at the age of twelve. Funny but I had a full head of hair back then, and braces which came off the next semester.
I didn’t hear my first Rush album until the summer after eighth grade, and that was where my true education really started, both mentally and emotionally. I heard someone say that their son had outgrown Rush, but of course they were talking nonsense. Rush is a band you never outgrow.
Quarter of seven.
At midnight last night I spun the disc of Rubber Soul and really enjoyed it. The vocal harmony on “Nowhere Man” sounds awesome remastered. I love the following lines:
Nowhere Man, don’t worry
Take your time, don’t hurry
Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand
The pastor of the Lutheran church is a huge Beatles fan. I wonder if I should go see him this Sunday morning? But you know, my life keeps changing, and I don’t feel very religious anymore. Today I have DDA group again, and this program is hardly religious at all. They must’ve figured out that homeopathy doesn’t work for schizophrenia. If you have religious delusions, why fight them with more religion? I remember when psychiatric rehabilitation was a very uncomfortable thing… The sun is coming out, and pretty soon I’ll take off to the store. One of my core beliefs, from the time I was in junior high school, is free will, due to the song by Rush. Thomas Hardy held just the opposite opinion, which is fatalism, but this depends on the universe being designed by an intelligence. I think it’s desirable to believe in your own responsibility and be an active agent. Passivity doesn’t conduce to personal happiness. We have to legislate the world ourselves by what we do… and this is what democracy is all about.