Fly by Night

Seven thirty.

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? 

Volition

One o’clock.

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.”

Huginn and Muninn

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.

Curiosity

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.

Poem





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. 

Saturday Peace

Eight o’clock.

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. 

Books versus Candy

Midnight hour.

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. 

Thursday Thoughts

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. 

Perfect

Nine forty.

The weather is unbeatable this morning, perfect as a picture. I probably won’t do the coffee ice cream again for a while, though it was worth it for grins. I asked Suk when Michelle would be back to work and he said two or three weeks. This information surprised me, but it’s none of my business. I’d been thinking I would go to Bi Mart this morning. Now I think I’ll postpone it to tomorrow afternoon since I have no appointments then. I just got back home with Aesop’s canned food and my day’s sustenance. Did I say the weather is beautiful today?

There are so many books I could read. Right now I feel curious about the stories of Jorge Luis Borges. I’ve only read one of them, and it was quite interesting, dealing with the creative power of language in a sort of wilderness of the written word. His invention of books and periodicals that don’t exist reminded me of The Necronomicon of Lovecraft, a totally fictitious work of black magic he alludes to repeatedly… Another book that intrigues me is The Big Money by John Dos Passos because of its connection with Neil Peart. I’d like to know where the Rush lyricist got the inspiration for “The Camera Eye.” It would be nice to dive a little deeper into the city imagery of this song and perhaps write a poem of my own about it. I haven’t tried writing just an objective sketch in quite a while. I love the calm detachment of some of Rush’s best lyrics and wish to cultivate this mood for my writing.

Quarter of eleven. I remember a December evening in a hotel in Reno when I sipped Old Granddad by myself with my back to the window, reading Atlas Shrugged, then switching to Stephen Crane, and finally listening to Rush with my Sanyo portable cassette player. Out of the window you could watch the traffic coming down the highway over the Sierras as night was falling and the headlights came on. I saw the first star appear in the sky, and I recall what I wished for. It was perfect. 

The New Renaissance

Six forty.

Gloaming of early morning outside my window. I feel rather good. Yesterday afternoon was a success for me, in that I got my point across to the other guys. I played my bass quite well, too. It probably sounded better to them than it did to me. The solo I took on “Bubble House” sucked. It was in G7, which is harder for me to solo over. But I really burned on “The Mincer,” in A7. If anything, I played too many notes… Aesop needs wet food again, and the store has just opened. At around eight o’clock I’ll go run my errand… I remember nearly crying (for the right reasons) when “Tom Sawyer” came on the PA in a certain waiting room. Rush did their songs with so much more intelligence than garden variety bands; with quality and taste, finesse and beauty. The other guys in my band aren’t very familiar with Rush, so I think I’ll make converts of them.

Seven thirty. I hear a birdsong outside my back door. The weather yesterday was insanely beautiful. Everybody got out of the house to do various activities.

Eight thirty. Melissa had a cold, but she sounds better today than yesterday morning. Camped across Maxwell Road from the store I saw a homeless man who kept himself company by talking to himself. It really annoys me when people say that homeless people choose to live that way, out of laziness or whatever. It’s the system that failed them, not the other way around. My park ranger nephew has some backward opinions, but luckily I don’t have to be around him… Some people are born without an aptitude that fits neatly into the job market. I’m one of them. There are no gainful jobs that allow for creativity and self expression in music or writing. People like me have to figure out another way or else fall through the cracks. Ayn Rand believed that the capitalist system could be manipulated to serve anyone who worked hard enough. I have serious doubts about that. Robert Pirsig said it doesn’t matter what work you do as long as you do it with quality. Again, I beg to disagree. And once again, in a perfect world… I envision a New Renaissance, a time when people can be what they want to be. Why is it that so many of us have a similar dream, yet the dream gets trampled by those with no imagination?