Noon thirty. I just finished reading Oedipus the King. It makes me wonder about compliance with gods and higher powers, and how human pride can interfere with justice. And again I consider the example of Mr T—, this unaccountable “narcissist.” Maybe life is supposed to have a certain flow to it, in conformity with the will of the gods, proportionate and rational. This would be the Greek way. Any excess, anything immoderate, is a pollution that throws off the balance. Pastor is planning a big Christmas whingding to usher out this “crazy” year, but I don’t think this is the answer. I’m quite a dissident to this idea. Rather than participate in church, I’d like to stay home and keep quiet until January.
Four thirty in the morning. I was just considering the implications of my post, “Where Have All the Schizos Gone?” A cabbie declared to me that the incumbent is “mentally ill,” and I replied that he may have a personality disorder. If this is true, then the time is propitious to take psychiatry seriously again, but do it with compassion and expertise. I also maintain that religion is ineffectual in treating people with mental illness, so that science in general needs a revival for the common good. Personally, I’m sick of the Church. People scratch their heads and call the incumbent “crazy,” but the clinical truth will be more specific and more fair. I’m no diagnostician myself, but I think Mr T— can be helped.
Two o’clock. I could indulge in a bass guitar practice, but my wiser self doesn’t see the point in entertainment anymore. The aesthetic things I used to love have lost their charm. Religion is just another plaything for my intellect. The only truth is scientific, and this is serious work. I lack the mathematical ability to be a good scientist, yet there must be something I can do to promote the discipline… Something is happening to me. I feel much different, and my attitudes are changing. If science is the truth, then I should act accordingly and do something to help scientists.
Five o’clock. I did end up playing my white Fender for around a half hour, and glad I did, because the sound was quite inspiring. Such a wonder sometimes to plug in, touch the strings, and be unaware that it’s me making the sounds; to ponder where the music is coming from, where within my soul. My grandmother was a consummate pianist, left handed, hence heavy on the bass clef. Her father sang contrabass with the Gleemen. So that now, the instrument in my hands could virtually melt away and what you hear would be the sound of Moore family genetics; indeed, the voice of my great grandfather bellowing down three generations, breathing music to my hands on the big four string electric bass, myself just a vessel. All I have to do is let go and be in the zone to give articulation to history that stretches back indefinitely…
Six o’clock. My portable air conditioner just arrived after two months of waiting. I won’t need it until next May, probably. At least I got what I paid for.
Eight twenty five.
During the wee hours this morning I read the opening chapters of The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth. I found that it offers much food for thought concerning things like economics, technology, and progress as opposed to conservationists who would stop the self seeking and save the Earth. My knee jerk is to remember the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous where it criticizes the attitude of our having conquered nature with science. Their answer is to regress to the primordial ooze. My own question is, How far can human history progress in a straight line? Wouldn’t we do better to live cyclically with the seasons, the way Native Americans once did? Wouldn’t this harmonize better with nature? Maybe these questions are not so silly as they seem. I suppose I watched the original movie of Planet of the Apes too many times. The inevitable aim of technology is self destruction. This was the take home lesson I gathered long ago, and now I’m reevaluating my assumption. The consensus appears to be something different. Faith in science and technology may be okay after all.
Quarter of ten. There’s a heavy fog in the neighborhood. It isn’t very warm out, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. Hopefully I’ll see something new in the market today. Life without variety can be pretty dull. My pen pal wrote me a long email this morning that I really appreciated. She suggested that I might’ve outgrown the church, and that church was there when I needed it a few years ago. I agree, the congregation was very kind to me, and I am thankful to them… I can’t believe the kind of dreams and nightmares I have nowadays. They seem like someone else’s imagination. Surely mine isn’t that sophisticated? I seem to be still processing the problem of evil in human life since revisiting Macbeth last month. I’m not the only one working on it. Pastor is looking for an antidote to darkness for his flock. Everyone has been decimated by every event starting in March.
Quarter of eleven. I guess I’ll walk off to the store now. Life might give a few answers…
Quarter of noon. When I consider climate change, I think that the spiritual stuff makes no difference. All of our religious ideas are thrown into turmoil as we stand by and watch the fruition of scientists’ predictions over the past 40 years. What are we supposed to believe now? No one seems to know. As yet, there are no generalizations for us to steer by. I can only advise people not to have children, because life on Earth will be insupportable at some point, and before then, radically changed. It is pleasant to dwell on the past, on the era of arena rock, or to read books written centuries ago. It’s nice to reflect on times when there were butterflies and honeybees, and bird life abounding. But today is not the same, and tomorrow is imponderable. Still, now more than ever we need a bard for the future. Someone must come forward and do today what Whitman did 150 years ago. There are still stars to guide us, even if they turn out to be global position satellites. Maybe we can build a “machine messiah” to be the voice of reality, and maybe it will croak “nevermore” like the raven in Edgar Allan Poe. “Computerized clinic for superior cynics / Who dance to a synthetic band / In their own image their world is fashioned / No wonder they don’t understand.”
It’s been an inauspicious day for my writing today. It was a dud. Well I had my one liter of Coke and suffered no ill effects except for a little hypertension. Okay, and a twinge of conscience for being reckless. I did enjoy the taste of the Coke, but was it worth the self scourging? Probably I was flirting with disaster, knowing as I do that my motive for having a Coke was submerged alcoholism. Tomorrow I’ll have a decision to make: repeat this behavior or force myself to leave it. Before long I could be addicted to caffeine again. The way this works is quite mysterious, but everybody with an addictive personality understands it. My brother has been addicted to Vicodin at least twice and kicked it, but he always returns to alcohol. My sister had a good start on quitting smoking when all of her teeth were pulled— and went back to it again. The thing about alcohol that makes it so maligned by culture is the way it alters behavior. I don’t believe that God and Satan have anything to do with it, although I’ve been indoctrinated with this nonsense so that I know it far too well. But the real mechanism of addiction is poorly understood, and whoever solves the puzzle will be a very rich individual. It is because no one understands it that people resort to religion for treatment of it. My sincere hope is that, someday, reason and science can expose the workings of addiction to the light of day, bringing us out of the Dark Ages and ending the blame and shame that addicts unfortunately have to go through. It was never a fair situation for people with this problem to browbeat them with a guilty conscience. Some healthcare professionals are downright sadistic toward alcoholics. I’ve witnessed this at the emergency room and even been a firsthand victim of it. I despise PeaceHealth and the RiverBend hospital for demeaning people with alcoholism. They also suck at helping people with schizophrenia. And as I write about this and ponder it, I think there must be something I can do to improve these conditions. The days of chaining schizophrenic people in dungeons are not over, yet in the name of decency they ought to be. The dungeons just have been given a facelift. Strangely, where healthcare professionals have failed, I find that a random cross section of people can be quite progressive and accepting of the mentally ill and addicts. So that all hope is not lost for humanity as far as keeping an open mind.
“Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.”
In disgust I put away the ice cream and went to bed, but sleep eludes me. So I got up again, seeking to capture my thoughts in these notes. Why do I feel disgusted with the world? It weighs on my shoulders, but I don’t know what to do. People are acting like children, and as a mature person I find it hard to tolerate. If there’s a rational God in heaven, then I pray that he hears the plea of this fish out of water. And by the way, sobriety is no walk in the park. It is a sense of responsibility for reality, a burden you can’t duck anymore. My family is behaving like so many idiots. But the real problem is that no one seems to listen to each other these days. And God listens to us the least of all. As Shelley wrote, “The world is wrong!” Indeed, I don’t think God is in His heaven and all’s right with the world…
I see images of women and children in my head, from the fellowship hall, smiling and eating cake from a wedding or a birthday. Yet now, people wear their stupid masks on their face, but also on their ears. What happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Will there ever be a victory over the virus day? If we can’t pull together as one race, then maybe we really are doomed. All the colors are one blinding light through a prism, and that’s what we must be able to see. Biologically this is the truth, the truth of life itself. The diversity is really one big unity, with all the forms of life interrelated and interconnected. We share the same genetic code, and moreover our atoms have all been cycled through the center of a massive star whose supernova explosion enriched a part of the universe, making life possible. Making this post possible, hopefully for somebody to read. Enough of divisions, of borders that break down the human spirit. We absolutely must come together to solve the world’s problems, and quickly.
Quarter after eleven. I avoided the online worship this morning because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. I’m only a humanist, not a holy roller. Every week it feels like I’m getting farther away from their beliefs. And as a humanist, all I see is their humanity, sometimes their inhumanity. The experience of psychosis is extremely unpleasant, and if my sister’s religion comes from the same place, then I cannot understand how she can live that way. It’s enough to say we disagree with each other…
I think a lot of people live with their heads in the Dark Ages. They haven’t seen the light of reason that shines on us like an invisible sun. It’s okay for them, but they ought to keep it to themselves. It’s a little like the difference between spectral Plato and sunny, muscular Aristotle. As if the latter singlehandedly dragged us out of the primordial ooze and still shines in his place for all posterity. The difference between night and day. Between mythology and mathematics. Aristotle is to me the Apollonian archer shooting straight. He is the letter A, while Plato is more akin to Pluto. He gave us logic and science, and vision instead of blindness. Aristotle is the full height of humankind.
Again I am straddling two worlds, secular and religious. But why has the world gone with religion instead of with science? It just seems that way to me. What are the ethics of a scientist, if any? Religion is the science of morals. I’m thoroughly confused and don’t know which way to turn. I only want to know where I’m going to. Is that the place I want to go? I can make an informed decision at last, and it will be mine. What do desires matter? Especially at my age, it all seems insipid and boring… The three schools of Hellenistic thought were Epicurean, Stoic, and Skeptic. Pleasure is either the highest good or it isn’t, and if you don’t know, then you are a Skeptic.
Quarter of four. The sky is mostly clear now. I dug out my Hackett book of Hellenistic philosophy.
Seven twenty. It’s rather obvious that I’m not very happy about something. I’m sick of the blogging community for being fair weather friends. It shows that no one gives a shit. Frankly I’m not a fan of Jesus Christ, and if that makes me an unloved minority, then to hell with you. Maybe someday people will understand why religion is not the answer when our natural resources are depleted and we’ve polluted ourselves out of existence… Public opinion is a fickle thing. I’m just not a joiner. No one thinks anything through logically, especially the big questions that pertain to religion. The soul is not immortal because there is no soul. We are no more than biological organisms… Forget it. I can’t organize my thoughts right now. Something is really eating me. But there’s something about Ayn Rand that rings very true to me, even though she was maligned for her atheism. The same wall she beat her head against is the one I contend with today.
Quarter of nine.
Rain today, but it’s light, not torrential. Already been to the market and bought canned food for Aesop. I took my black umbrella and my American flag shopping bag. I strode off to the beat of Thomas Dolby’s “Hot Sauce” in my brain. Nobody else was around on my way there. I observed nothing unusual. Just a typical morning in the “new normal.” Insipid and blah, but it’s better than eventful in a bad way. As I was opening my umbrella, I thought of how inanimate matter is our friend, the way it conforms to immutable laws. When you put something down, it will stay where you left it. Now I conceive of how Oppenheimer interfered with nature, releasing all this radioactive energy. Where did that place human beings in the food chain? Was it a heroic discovery, like Franklin flying a kite in an electrical storm? It was much graver since it was used as a weapon. I like to believe that America is the brainchild of the Enlightenment, exactly like Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity or Jefferson writing the Constitution. In this spirit, the nearly deaf Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. The Tricentennial 2076 is still a long way off, but it’s not too soon to speculate on what a 300 year old America wants to be. How far away have we wandered from our original ideals and intentions? How far are we from realizing our goals? How long until “all the colors bleed into one,” as in the old U2 song?
Wee hours. Sunday will be a day to rest and recuperate. I began to reread A Wrinkle in Time yesterday evening, but realized that I felt light years removed from the mentality of the author. I’m not comfortable with people who are so distant from me in belief systems, just because they can be rather self righteous and opinionated. I prefer to keep my distance from dogmatism in any shape or form, and just remark about how interesting the different perspectives are. Science and religion are likely never to be reconciled with each other, even in my own mind. Those answers lie in wait beyond the grave, or perhaps not even then. Both of my siblings are complacent in their particular worldview, and my birth has been sort of a footnote to their lives. I think that, like my parents, I represent a position of humanism, even like Renaissance intellectuals including Shakespeare. This was my education in college, and it’s still true today. What could be more beautiful than the human form? To exalt our own image is the genesis of reason and reflection, just as Narcissus loved his reflection in a stream. I believe it was Freud who discussed the relationship between narcissism and the intellect, but the wonderful thing about it is how reason is born, and with it, the magnificence of great civilizations and movements like the Renaissance in human history. The nobility of humanity is owing to its own ability to love itself and see itself as something divine and beautiful. We should celebrate not our weaknesses, wallowing in humility, but instead our strengths with a feeling of pride and power. Dare to love and to know, to be human in the highest degree. Humanism has been my response to my sister’s religion and my brother’s science, and this is where I will stay.