Sweet Mysteries

Five o’clock 🕔. Last night I went to the front door and found the new book of Montaigne that I had ordered from Amazon. I opened the box, revealing a beautiful fat hardcover, denim blue with a cloth binding and creamy new paper, complete with a nice dust jacket. I opened it to a random page to see the typeface, and likewise it was gorgeous, though perhaps a bit small. I think I can manage it, however, with my dollar store readers.

I hope that Tori, Eduardo’s wife, doesn’t have Covid. Last night she had a fever and we had to postpone recording the service. She’s being tested for the virus in the meantime, and then we’ll know what to do.

The music in my mind is from a recording I made around Halloween in 1985. It was entirely synthetic, using both analog and digital keyboards along with a drum machine. I had a lot of creative energy when I was young. It seemed to be endless because life was still a mystery with a long prospect ahead of me. In fact, I hadn’t even begun to analyze the truth of human existence, but rather took life for granted as a springboard for creativity. Only later did I learn to dig deep into the substance of life’s very being. This analysis has been inexhaustible for all these years, but also it removed the mystery from creative activity. I began to figure it out after my first love affair over a year later. The motivation behind my music composition was Freudian libido. When I told my girlfriend about this, she understood what I meant…

Nine o’clock. Except, the word I used was “love.” Freud uses it too, but in the sense of desire. It’s not the same thing as Christian love… Again I don’t know why 1989 keeps recurring to my mind. It must be relevant somehow, but as yet I don’t see the connection to today. I suppose it’s something I just have to work through. Right now the sky is gray and overcast, the street a little wet.

Quarter of eleven. Karen insisted on giving me a chocolate donut to take home. At the store I ran into Patty, for the first time in months. She was bundled up in a dark blue parka with a hood, anxious that it might rain. I wasn’t bundled up, but I had my umbrella with me. I got the benefit of the doubt on a pricing discrepancy and saved about a dollar and a half on my burrito. Michelle is always very fair in such matters. I feel good right now, even though haunted by ghosts of the past… Tori just tested negative for the coronavirus. I had a feeling that we were overreacting to her fever… 

Twilight

Six ten.

The same old questions concerning sexuality occurred to me again when I rolled out of bed. Perhaps that therapist only tried to help me? It’s true that I laid my soul bare to her and made myself quite defenseless… I think there’s a truth that goes deeper than Christianity, and Freud might have hit close to the mark. Isn’t it better to leave no stone unturned? Why live your whole life without knowing the whole truth? Often, culture is an obstacle to self knowledge. It is better to know. Culture also throws extraneous trappings onto the truth. This may be a passing mood, but for now it obtains… Outside comes the predawn twilight, the glimmer before the dawn. Bars of sunlight will shine down and create our prison of self consciousness and restraint. The social world will wake up and hold you responsible to your contract. But how much more can we smuggle into the light of day? And doesn’t everybody feel the same way? 

Before the Birds

Wee hours of Monday. Since Friday night, the weekend was rather out of joint. I hope for a good Monday. I’m enjoying Sense and Sensibility for its realism pertaining to psychology and human interaction. Jane Austen makes me think of Kate, even though that happened long ago, when I still drank a great deal. My past seems a continuous whole to me now, not bifurcated into drinking or not drinking. Funny how I had to cut my brother loose. Everyone considered, his voice was the most poisonous.

Four forty. Aesop stayed in bed while I got up to write this… Now we’re both up. Today I’m going to place a couple of books in the book share on Fremont Avenue. I have too many books, and duplicates of books. This morning it’ll be two volumes of Jane Austen that I don’t need. Her stuff is always a favorite with the general public. I find it often prescient of the tenets of cognitive therapy, especially gray thinking and overcoming arbitrary inference. The latter is also known as jumping to conclusions. Seems to me that I put a book in the little birdhouse recently, but I don’t even remember what it was. I should make a regular habit of donating books, because I know I’m only going to buy more. I catch the first glimmer of the predawn gray sky, if it isn’t my imagination. The sun rises officially at six thirty. It feels chilly in here with the windows open…

Five forty. I have no other big plans for today. The high temperature is forecast to be 85 degrees. The sky lights up, a greenish glow in the east. One purple cloud. It’s good to be out of the murderous heat we experienced for a few weeks. All the food I purchased Friday is now gone. That’s an excuse to go to Grocery Outlet again. Generally I feel that I am releasing the past, even my education— except for what I can use. As already observed, no one else believes in Freud anymore. And even cognitive therapy is gathering dust. What’s to be the next big trend in how we interpret the world? Will it be intelligent or instead a ridiculous joke?

On the Dock

Two o’clock. It looks like my Dell laptop is about to ship because the transaction has reappeared on my bank statement. I bet it will arrive Friday… Is Sigmund Freud the truth or is he just another school of thought? Overall, my college education was very Freudian, and so subtly that I didn’t realize I was being indoctrinated. I think every university has a platform. Very strange to see it now, and to see it demolished. Freud is just one more discarded image today. Likewise, my education is dated. Some parts of it are salvageable, but the central thrust of it is defunct… Now, considering myself, can my worldview be adapted to the present day? Or will I wander around the dock as the last Freudian who missed the ferry boat?… Imagine if I’d been brainwashed with something else when I was young! It could have been anything… I’ve looked around at the books in my library, scowling to think of how I was duped. And then, what happens when every doctrine has been fully eradicated from a person? Do you have the philosopher’s ideal? Maybe just a vegetable…

Before the Food Pantry

Six thirty.

I let myself be talked into doing the food pantry today. One thing I notice is that I’m more committed to recovery than I am to rock and roll. If music is not done intelligently then it’s not worth doing at all. In fact, I’ve already done that sort of thing, and it goes nowhere… I think I’ll go to the store at around seven thirty. I’d like to get some ice cream and a soda before I leave for the pantry. It’s important to relax and let go, try not to control things too much. Not to plan ahead or worry about it. Trust that all shall be well. This is faith enough. It gets you through situations.

Seven forty. Been to the market and bought some food for me. The neighborhood is very quiet this morning. I contemplated letting go and letting nature, or whatever sub cortical structure animates my legs. I suppose “nature” sounds more poetic than “nervous system.” I still haven’t popped the plastic on my Fitzgerald volume. To read This Side of Paradise would be reading my own history. I’m not sure that my college past really matters anymore. Life itself is a continuous learning process… Another thought: maybe Freud was ultimately right about some of the defense mechanisms we use, but not all the time. Sometimes I can tell when a person is using “reaction formation,” or saying the opposite of what they mean for reasons of decorum. I can see how they are trying to convince themselves of something, when the truth is just the contrary. In the end, it is well to trust your own insight. Every new situation is different and demands presence of mind… At nine o’clock I will leave for the church. I’ll feed Aesop just before I go. He’s okay with me leaving him if it’s in the morning. That’s what he’s used to.

Indeterminism; or, Optimism

Interesting, but sometimes I can clearly see into the workings of my preconscious mind, thoughts and impulses just on the threshold of consciousness. But my conscious mind can choose its actions regardless. Maybe it’s just the wisdom of experience that makes it all so clear. This noon hour at the store, I walked right past the beer cooler and was fully aware of my thoughts about why I wasn’t going to drink. Mostly it’s a surefire one way ticket to death for me. Occasionally there is Coca-Cola if I want a sugary treat. It’s like the rare Bubble Yum or Doritos my mom used to buy me when I was an early teen. Root beer floats sometimes.

Four twenty. My Led Zeppelin CD arrived in the mail just now. I’ll probably listen to it after dark tonight. It occurs to me to wonder why I live like a wanton child rather than a responsible adult. Maybe because I could never get away with anything when I was young? When Mom died I found the opportunity to be the bad boy I’d never been in youth. Dunno. There are many ways of looking at it. I’d still like to be a wanton in some ways, but I doubt if it will happen. On the other hand, self sacrifice will never appeal to me. I believe the Id will always want more and more until I die. The Platonic beast can be tamed but not entirely snuffed. Or maybe this is only a theory? What if it merely looks good on paper 📝? If so, then it can be scratched out and written down a different way. The computer program can be scrapped and redone from nothing. This would be the view of John Locke. Often philosophy has an advantage over psychology. With philosophy, there’s always a drawing board to return to. Individual people can literally posit their identity— just like reprogramming a computer. What do we need dunces like Freud for?

Life and Art

One twenty five. I played my Precision Bass and it sounded awesome to me. The low notes down around the third fret especially growled. I’m really happy with this instrument. Then I walked over to the store for a Sprite and cottage cheese. Cathy was cute even with a mask on. The gabapentin is probably doing something, but I don’t know what. I feel more easygoing than I did. The sun is out and, indeed, I feel different today from yesterday… While I was out walking on Silver Lane, the thought of my brother surfaced a few times, ridiculing and deriding me. I said screw him. He said I was worthless— totally unfairly and cruelly. But he was two faced with everybody, saying bad things about them to other people. He did this with Polly and her family too. He got caught doing it more than once, but I was the one who paid the price. My siblings played cat and mouse with me. I never mattered to them. I was their sacrifice… Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. If I had been distant from the situation, I could’ve seen more plainly what was going on. My siblings were more worldly wise than I was. The disillusionment I experienced was good novel material. But as it is, I can blog about it. When did Balzac write Lost Illusions, and what was the plot? Henry James would’ve read it. Every great writer owes his greatness to his influences. Without Balzac, there would’ve been no James. Without these two, no Freud could’ve existed. And without Freud to get it wrong, no cognitive therapy could’ve sprung up. Now the question is, was Freud really wrong with the sexual theory? I should read more of James Baldwin. Once I’m past the shock value, there will be much food for thought.

The Unconscious

Ten twenty. Which is to be more alive, being true to morality or being true to yourself? A character in Another Country has a great quote: “Funerals are for the living.” This utterance really resonates with me, because adherence to conventional morality seems so flat and two dimensional and dead. Also in the same book, people standing in the shadows of the Cathedral look misshapen and grotesque, as if forced into this deformity by the Church. Baldwin cites three parties responsible for people’s unhappiness: the Church, the police force, and the movies. I love his depiction of the New York subway, a perfect symbol for the unconscious, making it a living reality… Again, do I trust Christianity or do I trust Freud, almost tantamount to trusting my University education? Henry James was a huge figure in my school’s English Department, so long ago but not forgotten. The University made the unconscious a truth for me from the time I took Shakespeare in 1986. We read A Midsummer Night’s Dream and watched the Joseph Papp production in the library’s media center. Does the Green World really exist, or is it just a made up phantasm? If the latter, then why are there so many metaphors for the unconscious?… Being an English major at the University was a far cry from participating in church today. With church, reality is paper thin and gray and lifeless. The real pulse throbs somewhere under the pavement, deep and wild, like the untamed earth, yet peaceable if you treat it right. Beneath the asphalt and cement, the soil is veined and courses with the blood of a great heart far below the crust. The earth dreams, but we don’t notice. Our minds are focused on money and whatever makes it. But someday soon the earth will have its revenge.

Perspectives

In a cerebral way, I’m fascinated by the difference between the old Jungian school and the CBT that’s destined to replace it. It’s amazing how one man’s theories could be so pervasive in our culture, such that we breathe it in like the air. But Sartre was contemporary with Jung, and had quite a different outlook. I didn’t become familiar with him until college, but I experienced him to the max as a freshman and sophomore. The spirit of Sartre permeated the whole Norton anthology my English class used. Plus I was taking French, where the influence of Sartre was obvious. I didn’t care for Shakespeare, whose Green World was too deterministic and Freudian for me. I didn’t want to surrender to a Nature that was fixed and fatalistic, and subconscious. Sartre emphasizes the conscious mind, and insists that individuals are free and responsible agents, and that humanity as a whole is the same. We can choose where we want to go; the future is entirely up to us. We needn’t leave it all to a fatalistic unconscious that gropes its way blindly like an instinctive mole. Sartre denied the existence of the unconscious altogether… So, when I got to college, the Jungian background of my childhood faded away while new ideas of freedom and creativity took over. This would’ve worked out fine, except the illness struck me down at age twenty four, reinforcing the idea of determinism, of basically Freud and Jung all over again. The optimism of my youth hit the wall for many years. I sold out to Jungian psychology, became a convert. His theories ran rampant in Eugene, and when I checked into treatment in 2003, I was brought face to face with a program fundamentally Jungian and old fashioned. I felt ambivalent about the whole thing, trying to opt for empiricism, or logical positivism. I didn’t want any ideology at all, but the world around me forced it on me. Later, in the spring of 2006, I heard about a new mentality called cognitive therapy, which was based not on intuition but on hard evidence. At first I resisted it, foolishly. But I began flirting with it about five years later, and meanwhile the movement was growing and spreading. I finally got the full immersion in cognitive behavior therapy from 2017 to 19. At the same time, I attended church, where the ideas were the same old Jungian ones, creating a schism with my therapy experience. And this is the conflict I’m still dealing with every day. I believe that CBT will eventually win the day, and I for one will drop church attendance forever, as will many others who feel the impact of new perspectives taking the place of the old ones. Then again, throughout history human beings have oscillated between realism and romanticism, science and religion, evidence and intuition. Neither side ever has the last word.

Sunday Night

Six twenty.

I finally gave up on the white Precision copy and ordered a real Fender bass. It was on sale, marked down from $699 to $579. I was tired of playing firewood basses, and the white one was embarrassing to mess with. Imo it’s unplayable, and sounds like crap. The fret work on it is execrable. I’m a little mad at Dave from ten years ago, who thought it was ok to jam economic. Since following his example, I’ve never been confident in my gear. The two Rondo basses I bought are worthy only of donation to St Vinnie’s. I deluded myself all the time I was drinking that the white bass sounds great. Now at last I perceive things as they are. A bass guitar should be playable and sound decent. I hope the new one is heavy and solid, not a flyweight toy. It should weigh at least ten pounds to have any quality. The truss rod should be sturdy and functional.

Ten twenty. Since going down on the Vraylar, some Freudian thoughts are coming to the surface. They somehow involve family romances, even according with the theory. The thoughts seem awfully irrational because incestuous, but how can I disagree? No matter how rebellious my spirit, and rational my will, sexuality comes down to experience with one’s parents. How necessary is it to carry on the legacy? I can object with all my force, but still I’m a part of history… I’m beginning to remember how my parents interacted when I was in junior high school. Mom developed a painful foot condition, but Dad had no sympathy for her whatsoever. When she had surgery, he verbally abused her in her weakness like some species of bird. Chickens and crows behave that way towards the weak ones. I lost respect for my dad during that time, but then I never did like him very much. He was so competitive with other people, when to be loved only requires being yourself. Maybe he was afraid of losing another job, as had happened when we lived in Salem. I certainly didn’t want to grow up to be like him. Meanwhile in eighth grade, Mom introduced me to Beatles music, believing it to be educational for a young musician. She was proud of me for being a rock drummer, while Dad sneered that rock music would become obsolete. But he had no taste at all. He wasn’t very intelligent, unlike Mom. And he had always treated both of us like dirt. I wonder how he would have fared on his own, had he packed his things and left us flat? Even as I write, I’m aware that this is a process of me working things out for myself. My parents are long gone, leaving only memories of pleasures and pains. At the time, I wasn’t really allowed to show my feelings as they arose. They took an underground course with my comic books and my drawing every day. A few people I’ve met in my adulthood sensed that I carried a burden of a lot of pain. Maybe they were right…