It wasn’t a good day. My sister on the phone talked to me until my arm began to ache. Everything went south from there today. Now I believe that masochism is a reality in our daily behavior, as Freud pointed out a century ago, so the trick is to catch it and correct it. The enjoyment of pain is twisted and impure. A true reward is the experience of pleasure as pleasure, the real thing. Good is good, and negative is negative, but to a masochist the two are difficult to ferret apart from each other. Maybe none of this would have happened if I had never stopped drinking; if I still gave myself a foretaste of heaven. And yet that experience is a delusion of paradise, an artificial thing. Perhaps the question of happiness is a fairly involved philosophical problem that begins by asking yourself what is true happiness? It is especially hard to identify when nobody seems to give a damn about anything anymore. Everyone is numb as if we’d all sampled the same narcotic…
I keep meaning to revisit Mallarme to see about his idea of a spiritual universe that replaces God with himself. Though my French is not the best, I’m quite sure of what he was saying on that score. And who would I be to say that Mallarme was presumptuous? I would be more presumptuous than he was.
Four thirty five in the morning.
It’s been raining fairly hard and constantly. The sound of it was comforting while I slept. I recall a dream I had when I was a sophomore in college. I hid by my bedroom window to avoid being seen by pteranodons in the sky, a paranoid dream. About ten years later I dreamed of men landing in my backyard in a helicopter to take me away with them. Somehow I think helicopters symbolize sex because they hover like an erection, as Freud would say. Dreams of floating or suspension in air usually mean that… The problem with gay sex is the clash with conventional morality as it is prescribed in the Bible. Internal conflict like this gives rise to neurosis and maybe even psychosis if my theory is right. I also think the homosexuality is innate, something I was born with. In schizophrenia, there’s a split between feeling and reason. But what if instinct and the intellect could be joined in harmony rather than opposing each other? Perhaps it would heal the illness. In this case, I could quit taking the medication and maybe live longer… Freud wrote that homosexuality is no degradation, no vice, and can’t be called an illness. And of course, Freddie Mercury said, “I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime.”
It is odd how people come and go, even me. Everything changes over time, and we go where it benefits us to go. The hardest thing to face is the essential solitude of every human life, and yet the aloneness creates our freedom. I can see Teri’s face in my mind’s eye, the receptionist for the agency. This somehow becomes symbolic of my fortunes since the time of the pandemic. The church pastor flipped his wig and preached about demonic possession in the same breath as mental illness, which was a very serious mistake as far as I was concerned. After the memorial service for my friend was such a disaster, my mind was made up to walk away from Our Redeemer. Pastor’s misconceptions are incorrigible, unfortunately, and he won’t listen to anyone else. I believe they stem from a phobia of biology and the facts of science, which seem to pose a threat to his ironclad spiritualism. Indeed, this would put him in a very difficult position regarding theology and philosophy, an unavoidable contradiction. So his only recourse is to stick his head in the sand and deny the truth that consciousness comes from brain function. I find it ironic that Pastor’s phobia is the very contrary of Freud’s alleged phobia of metaphysics. This accusation came from Carl Jung after the two friends split over the disagreement.
Well, the sun actually came out after my session went really well. It renewed some of my belief in myself. My other experiences with therapy were execrable; they simply didn’t know how to relate to me. And, whatever other people may say, I still adhere to the Freud I learned in school. If there’s no chance of romantic love for a person, then life feels pointless. I think a lot of people can identify with this statement because there’s so much repression in today’s society. But right now the sun rams through unstoppably and the life force itself is invincible. No matter what a huge mess we’ve made of our culture, love still triumphs.
Five in the morning.
Yesterday at noon I started reading Native Son, and after a while I reflected a little on the abstract of power in our personal lives. I used to hesitate to use this word, but now it seems like the best one for the condition. By the way, yesterday the thought of alcohol never crossed my mind. It only occurred to me when I was asleep and dreaming that I’d been drinking occasionally for the past four years. I could hand control over to my subconscious mind, but who would be so foolish to do that? This would overturn rule by reason and create tyranny of the soul by the instincts, according to Plato. The Platonic model is something I learned very well at the university, and it resonates with Freudian psychology. I kept running into these ideas in Renaissance literature, for instance in Sir Philip Sidney. Now I wish I had read the whole book of The Old Arcadia, yet I think I learned the take home lesson… I don’t think I’ll leave the house at all today due to the snow, which by now is frozen and treacherous. In my head I hear Pastor’s acoustic guitar playing our holiday medley last Friday night. We sucked at our performance but nobody cared, though this apathy is precisely why we continue to be bad.
Quarter after ten.
The sun is out in the blue sky and everywhere there is snow. I picked up three bags full of empty bottles and left them in the kitchen. My visit with Sean is probably still on for today. I kind of dread it because the dog doesn’t like me being on the phone or my iPad with someone else. Generally I feel rather uncomfortable with the circumstances today. After a tough holiday we get this weather disaster. I also miss my Snapple tea this morning. I just have this exaggerated sense of immobility, of being stuck at home when I don’t want to be.
Ten thirty at night.
I am absolutely sick of spiritualization in this country, the way it eclipses everything else, especially sexuality. We spay and neuter more than just our pets anymore. It’s time that someone with balls stood up and spoke out against this dehumanizing trend. We need to shift the balance from Jung back to Freud and the pleasure principle. Even if no one else does this, I will be the first to boycott the church and strike out on my own… I remember when people were still allowed to feel horny. It was about 18 years ago, before the holy wars engulfed our imaginations. But since then we’ve all been anesthetized to sensations below the neck, and for no good reason that I can see. Somewhere along the line we were steered towards a grand delusion, and we deferred all happiness to this mirage beyond the horizon. Some of us are wide awake but dare not speak our minds. At the risk of being unpopular, I’ve decided that the buck stops here.
I’ve made Aesop an appointment for a toenail trim for tomorrow morning. Now I just have to get us there. The colors outdoors were beautiful as I walked off to market. I saw many small blueberry clouds on the blue sky, and the ground was soaked from the rain last night. A few teenage girls kept Michelle busy at the store. My body was still wrapped in a dream when I came up to the front doors, huffing a little. A man leaning on the counter gabbed with Suk, saying it was almost Christmastime, and I unconsciously rolled my eyes: good grief. But the world should have the kind of dream I had this morning, a sweet dream of romance. Although Freud has been persecuted and pushed out of public consciousness, he has only lain dormant all this time. I was also asking myself how a person on disability income can be a rugged individualist with any kind of coherence. The cars on Maxwell Road whirled past me on the sidewalk, adding to the bluster from the street. I felt like the bum with big dreams of something sublime and yet attainable on earth. An Aphrodite sort of vision, born from the ocean and determined to conquer everyone.
Nine forty. The rain has started again from dark skies, but I somehow feel more alive than in the weeks past. The love that lies sleeping is bound to wake up and shake off the anesthetic of twenty years. More than a hope, it’s a necessity for the human future, even if I don’t see it in my lifetime.
Quarter of six.
If I slept at all, it was just a shallow slumber and not very restful. Throughout, I kept hearing music by Prokofiev, like just now with Love for Three Oranges. A strange thought comes to me, the question of human instincts versus society’s expectations and industrialization. Also consumerism. “We’ve taken care of everything / The books you read, the songs you sing / The pictures that give pleasure to your eye.”
Quarter of seven. I made an early trip to the store to get Aesop’s Dog Chow and the usual stuff for me because of my lab appointment at ten o’clock. Kat’s family from inside their Dodge Caravan smiled and waved hello as we passed each other on the street. It seemed like everybody was waving at me from their car: was I seeing things? Michelle was quite gabby this morning, but for my part I feel rather tired and washed out due to poor sleep. She wished me luck with my labs today… Tomorrow would be my mother’s birthday if she were still here. But actually, it’s her birthday anyway. July 17, 1928 was when she was born. Off and on I’ll probably stop and think about her tomorrow… The band agreed to have practice Saturday at three o’clock. I’d like to take my blue Fender bass for the comfort of it. Looking forward to getting the Di Marzio pickup in the mail likely in August; but then I have to find someone to install it.
Eight thirty. The taxi will come get me after nine o’clock. Like an idiot, I drank my Snapple when I was supposed to fast for the blood draw; I totally forgot about that. It’s too late to cancel it now. Is this an example of a Freudian slip, meaning that I don’t really want to go to my appointment? I think it was just an accident. Freud claimed that there are no accidents in human behavior; we do everything intentionally. When bad things happen to us, it’s because we’re being masochistic, etc etc. I don’t believe this is very probable… The sun rises on the promise of a nice day. I ought to email Heidi today and see what’s up in her world. Someday it would be great to get together again for a bubble tea at Cal’s Donuts; celebrate old times and make a toast to the future.
Quarter of ten. I’m waiting outside of the clinic for my return ride. The phlebotomist was not very friendly, but it’s over with. Maybe that’s why I tried to sabotage this appointment, and Freud would be correct about my motives.
Ten o’clock. I can think of little else to say right now. This is Monday. I think I might call a taxi to get to the pharmacy today. It’ll be expensive but worth it to me. Lately I’ve been forgetting how important it is to enjoy life’s pleasures, and not let other things interfere with that experience. It is hard when I forecast disaster around every corner, the slings and arrows and the thousand natural shocks.
Noon hour. Now I’m back from Bi Mart, where I bought a new furnace filter and picked up my medications. I took a taxi both ways because it’s a low energy day for me. Meanwhile the sun has come out as the garbage trucks do their jobs. I feel kind of tired…
Three o’clock. I ordered the new English translation of Being and Nothingness because Sartre’s freedom and responsibility philosophy works for me better than anything else, and I’ve never read the entire book. Philosophy in general is more useful to me than religion or psychology, I guess because it’s founded on the principles of freedom and critical thinking and discussion. It’s an open ended inquiry with no limits, and everyone can participate. I hope to see a revival of philosophy someday soon since it is needed now more than ever… I don’t care for theories that bifurcate the self into conscious and subconscious components that fight each other for supremacy. Sartre rejects both “human nature” and the “unconscious mind,” eliminating all such primitive stuff that a lot of psychology thrives on. For him, there’s only the conscious perceiver, who thinks and acts freely within a certain facticity… For many years I gave in to the Freudian point of view, when it would’ve been more beneficial to use Sartre to steer by.
Quarter of eight.
It has always been my style to be honest, so I don’t like it when other people prevaricate on the subject of my illness. This was one of the reasons I left my old psychiatrist four years ago and struck out on my own. Yesterday I ran into a similar situation with the person in Salem. My policy is to be out of the closet, but she advised deception in the process of hiring a helper. To my mind, this is unethical. So now I wonder if I should write her an email to explain my point of view and express my discomfort with her policy… The morning is starting out with nice weather again. Before long I’ll walk to the market, taking my time as I go. I just trashed the Daily Devotions email without opening it. I’m not interested in Palm Sunday or Easter.
Nearly nine o’clock. I just got my caffeine fix from a quart of Snapple tea. Almost time to feed Aesop. I had been feeling crabby this morning, but now it’s better. I believe there’s band practice tomorrow afternoon, so that could lift my spirits. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon as well to prepare. There are no real pressures on me today. Some thoughts from the distant past drive my behavior right now, experiences from college days. The university was a very liberal place when I went there. The real world outside the campus could be quite a shock after being a student. I was spoiled. “The Dance of the Mirlitons” from The Nutcracker reminds me of the day in spring 1988 when I bought Plato’s Republic at the UO Bookstore. I felt very happy on that day. As soon as I got home with the book, I ranged through it and found the part on justice in the individual. Plato argued that the rational component of the personality ought to rule over impulsive appetites and desires. This sounded right to me, and in time I would often meditate on the word “reason.” I didn’t realize at first the similarity of Plato to Freudian psychology. It turns out that my education brainwashed me with Freud. I don’t even know what other schools are like.
Ten o’clock. The cholesterol medication might have a side effect I’m not aware of yet. I feel a pain in my neck below the jaw, possibly thyroid. I think I’ll stay home today, but overall I feel better so far than I did yesterday. Again, it’s probably due to the prospect of musical activity Saturday.