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.
Quarter of ten.
Gloria is here, vacuuming the floors, while I just sit and enjoy my domesticity. I could feel guilty for being lazy but I manage to defuse that bomb somehow. There’s no percentage in feeling guilt or remorse, these emotions that serve no purpose and only destroy you. Earlier this morning I remembered something a professor said about Aristotle’s Ethics: basically the virtues of not being a couch potato, but keeping your mind active. I never did read the Ethics from cover to cover. Maybe I’ll do that and see exactly what Dr Zweig was talking about, and of course, what Aristotle said. I think his philosophy has been on my mind lately, whether it’s very relevant or not. Antiquity always has something important to teach people in the present day.
Things have settled into quiet now that Gloria has left for the day and I’ve let Aesop out of his little cell down the hall. I haven’t decided on church or no church tomorrow morning. It might be nice to stay home and rest. My mind was a jumble for most of the week from worrying what people think of my judgments and choices. But it really shouldn’t matter if others disagree with you. We do what’s right for us because no one else knows how we feel or experience reality. So, judge for yourself. And be eclectic with what you read or listen to. “Until you get there yourself / You’ll never really know.”
Six fifty AM.
Yesterday afternoon the clouds finally blew away to make a sunny day. This morning it’s still mostly clear with no breeze. It keeps hitting me that the key to everything resides in your own heart, whether it’s recovery from addiction or whatever. The original and ultimate arbiter of the truth is yourself; you are the alpha and omega of your life, and no one can rob you of that unless you give them permission. You can bow to an authority figure, but first you endow the person with the power that was yours to begin with. I did some reading in Emerson yesterday, and his message, repeated again and again, is self reliance and independence. For background noise, my mind plays “Coconut Grove” by The Lovin Spoonful, but the room is quiet and tranquil. I tell Aesop it’s 43 minutes to his breakfast and he settles down and waits patiently. Outside and in, the air is breathless as if expecting something to happen. But today I only expect good things.
Aesop’s canned food has been delivered to the front porch, so now I have to go out and get it amid a shit storm of his barking. I really dread doing this. Sometimes dogs are irrational and cause a problem for people… I did it. And then I opened the package for a look at the product. It appears to be pretty good, with lamb and garden vegetables. But the real test is how Aesop likes it… Yesterday my sister used an expression that I had to look up to be sure of the meaning. She said some people cut their own “swathe” in their life. I could relate to this from a song by Talk Talk: “Funny how I plowed myself an avenue.” Both figures of speech refer to independence and self reliance, doing things your own way, which is mostly what I did, starting at least five years ago. But really it’s been going on for much longer. I’ve noticed that my sister doesn’t try to give me advice anymore. If I had allowed her, she would have dominated my life forever, and that simply doesn’t work. Everybody is different, a difference that must be respected. I didn’t want to be my sister’s clone. Everyone has a sense of logic, an inherent rational faculty for making judgments and choices appropriate to himself. As easy as chocolate or vanilla— or strawberry. All the brainwashing in the world shouldn’t make any difference. You are what you are.
I slept for about four hours, dreaming of how I was obligated to one or two of my followers on WordPress. I kept trying to escape and just be autonomous and free, not responsible to others who may read my blog. It was like the long arm of the law: a boomerang between freedom and captivity. I needed a get out of jail free card. Also it was like an interesting play by Jean-Paul Sartre titled No Exit. Yesterday evening I’d been writing in my journal something about cultural relativism, and was it really possible to have an original thought when we live together in a society? The availability of the truth is limited to the resources our culture provides. I wrote rather deliriously about my affair with Jungian psychology that went on for twenty years, until finally I made a breakthrough to cognitive behavioral therapy, and then only because the time seemed to be propitious. My home city was at last getting wind of the latest trend in psychology, some forty years after its invention… What do I really want to say that comes from my identity alone? But that’s just the kicker: there seems to be no independent self, none that isn’t borrowed from the readymade uniforms mass produced by society. Pink Floyd sang lugubriously about this in “Welcome to the Machine.”
It appears that in order to find your sanity, first you have to go out of your mind and be a knight errant. Again I ask myself, What did you want to be? When I was nineteen years old, I had a pretty good idea of what that was. But college became a complicated game of brown nosing your professors to get a grade. And then we were turned loose into a competitive world, up shit creek without a paddle. A good expression of this is “45 Mercy Street” by Anne Sexton.
Perhaps Goethe is right that the ultimate truth comes from within your heart. But the difficulty consists in decluttering your system to be able to recognize your voice. It’s the same as tuning out the radio static to isolate the pure signal.
One thirty five. My brother is one to wallow in guilt and despair, but that’s not for me anymore. I did my penance for some imagined crime— whatever it was. Families are adept at imposing feelings of obligation to the other members. Somehow I got the idea to liberate myself from futile self punishment. It was a form of masochism that served no purpose whatsoever. What was the point in hurting myself when nobody cares anyway? The only lease on life I have is myself. Self harm is absurd because the only subject is oneself. The existence of a world relies solely on the knower. It is bad philosophy to compromise quality of life, and suicide is the ultimate fallacy. Nothingness is inevitable, so why hurry it up? One would have to feel hopelessly trapped to consider an end to existence. The potential for a happy life seems so far away. What it comes down to is facing your own freedom. Sometimes anything seems preferable to a big change. We are faced with making sacrifices in order to find the greater good. I sacrificed my family’s approval. I realized that I would never obtain it anyway. Whose values did I value, theirs or mine? Which counted for more? But the only arbiter of value is ultimately oneself, and that’s perfectly okay.
Eleven twenty five. I just listened to most of Selling England by the Pound. It’s my favorite Genesis Cd. I had a thought a bit ago: within reason, I am totally free. I can be a night owl if I want. I can have dinner for breakfast. I feel that freedom is very important. Somebody in my life was too controlling, and that had consequences. It was bad enough that my parents were overprotective, but then Mom assigned me to my siblings: a huge mistake. I was 34 years old when she passed away, definitely old enough to take care of myself. I went through hell with my family. But now I’ve got this big renovated house all to myself, and with all this free time and even a little money to play with. I didn’t orchestrate it this way. Life just fell into place with me along for the ride. I’m alone a lot of the time, but I’m okay with that. It beats being oppressed by someone else.
I’m even free from the psychiatrist I fired in 2017. Polly thought I was still seeing him when she sought me out last October. But that’s just another sign of what’s been wrong with my life. Dr T— was a dictator. He treated all of his patients that way. I couldn’t take any more of that. Everybody had advice for me, and then I realized it was all contradictory. Nobody agreed with anyone else. I found that my own opinion was good enough:— in fact, it was righteous.
It is so imperative that everyone trust themselves in a world where opinions and advice are ubiquitous. Judge the value for yourself. We all possess the right to esteem what is right and wrong, and what is important. Don’t be a sheep or a fish or any animal but a human being. And when you assert yourself, people will treat you with more respect.
Quarter of two. I’ve been having nightmares about Sheryl’s motives for trying to dissuade me from heterosexual relationships. The obvious thing is that gay sex doesn’t make babies. The whole point of intercourse, from a rational perspective, is reproduction. It is nature’s way. But what if I do want to father a child of my own? The hideous thing is to think that Sheryl tried to prohibit a person with schizophrenia from reproducing. This is called eugenics, or the practice of keeping genetic weaknesses out of the gene pool. The Nazis had the same idea…
It really pays to do your own thinking and choosing. To keep your own counsel. If you don’t have your eyes and ears open, then all manner of mayhem can result. Only the individual knows what is best for himself. If you have a brain, then it’s in your best interest to use it. I defy those who say “you can’t.” The truth is that everyone is free to choose. And if people disagree with your choices, and if you lose friends, just persist. Eventually things fall into place.
Quarter of six. Why is my family so redneck? Their values are typically Republican, with a heavy emphasis on the working class. Or maybe I should ask why I’m not another redneck with them. Kate used to joke about her brother in law forbidding books in his house like a working class hero. James next door said that not one book was found in John’s house before James bought it.
Books are symbolic. Bibliophilic people are also intellectual people. Other symbols are eyeglasses and heads shaped like an egg. Those who scorn books may be the ones who dress in outing flannel shirts and cowboy boots and hats; who carry a can of wintergreen in a hip pocket; who drink Jack Daniels; and drive monster pickup trucks. Just as my family fell into one stereotype, I fell for another. It happened by imperceptible degrees when we were in school. Society tailored us to be what we are now. It even told you to listen to “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd— with a doobie in your hand. All the laws you can obey you can also break according to expectation. People do what is done already. We can even get addicted to alcohol and drugs at a signal from someone. It’s okay to do it because it’s been done before. Even Nietzsche has been done before.
When will people listen to the speeches of a new Zarathustra? But that person is you, dear reader…
I never have done the Black Friday thing. Leave that to the rat racers, the ones who don’t think outside of the box. Lemmings over the cliff. Follow the leader. No one thinks to ask who sets the trend. Or if they know, then they still want to be or look like that person. Trends and traditions are strange things. People are monkey see monkey do. Doesn’t anybody rely on herself to judge?
In the bass guitar world, every player thinks there has to be a precedent for what you do. If it wasn’t done by James Jamerson or Jaco Pastorius or someone else famous, then it’s not worth doing. What would flatwound strings sound like on a Jazz Bass? People would say oh no, you can’t do that. Only on a Precision Bass because that’s what Jamerson did. People don’t use their own ears to determine what sounds good. How about using a thumping technique on a P Bass rather than a J Bass or Music Man? Some would say oh no; but in fact, Louis Johnson used to thump a Precision Bass sometimes. How do I know that? Because I recognize the tone of a Fender Precision. Because I trust my ears. When you listen, you’ll hear a lot of slapping on basses other than a Jazz or Music Man. I had a sound engineer once tell me that the Rickenbacker I was using got some good trebly tones. But she was relying solely on the reputation of the instrument. The fact was that I had heard much brighter sounds from other specimens. After about 1985, the manufacturer designed the pickup differently for a darker tone.
And the same for Black Friday. Ever try yellow mustard on a chili burger? It’s very good, though people may say you can’t do that…