Sartre Says—

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. 

Friday Morning

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. 

Desultory

Quarter of ten in the evening.

This afternoon went rather difficult for me in that I felt a bit tempted to drink beer again. It was one o’clock and warm outside, so I made a run over to the market for Aesop’s Milk-bones. I saw Kat doing some gardening in her front yard and I stopped to hail her. Thinking now, I didn’t know what I was doing. Human behavior is never without a motive, but I was oblivious to mine today when I left the house. In a desultory way I continued on to the store. Dreamily I heard Deb ask me if I wanted to buy a used electric guitar for $150. I declined, saying I already had a guitar. Then another guy spoke up and expressed an interest in it. Under his arm he had six pints of a cheap ice beer, plus he sounded inebriated. Again I ponder why I was at Community Market at one in the afternoon. The warmth of the day inspired a languid and nebulous longing for something I couldn’t name. I came home then and wrestled with myself for the rest of the afternoon. Maybe nobody would’ve cared if I had bought a six pack of a tasty beer today. Then again, perhaps I was the only one sleepwalking through the sultry winter day. 

The Stuff of Dreams

Two thirty in the morning.

I was thinking again about the nature of psychosis. Like dreams, it is the fulfillment of a wish. It’s the attempt to make reality conform to your desires. It shifts shapes into what they essentially are not, but what the deluded person thinks they ought to be. Desires and wishes play a major role in the religious life as well. How is prayer any different from a dream? You’re merely trying to influence natural events to go your way. The ancient religious practice of the fire sacrifice had the same motivation as prayer: to sway nature to accord with human wishes. But such endeavors are vain and useless. The only way to change reality is by practical action, and that means work. No purely mental effort can solve a problem. I can sit here and wish with all my might that my house was clean and tidy, but only a physical effort will make it happen. I don’t believe that anybody can move a pencil with their mind, or start a fire, or communicate by telepathy. Psychosis can shift shapes in the mind of the observer, but objectively, reality doesn’t budge. 

Real life is not like a Jorge Luis Borges story in which nature yields to the will of humankind… and yet a beautiful song by Yes occurs to me. In “That, that Is,” there’s an interlude where Jon Anderson sings, “How did heaven begin?” And of course, there’s the irrepressible memory of what a baby sees… 

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?