So to Speak

Quarter of eleven.

Right now it’s very quiet in the house. I got a late start going to the store due to an appointment with Rebecca. It’s rather warm outdoors. Everyone I met on my way was friendly and fairly cheerful. Pumpkin pie ice cream is available for the season already, and some house fronts are decked out for Halloween: headstones, skeletons, ghosts, Jack o lanterns, and spiderwebs are common themes. Something made me remember the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann, this German guy who wrote his stuff in a tavern, which helped to fire his imagination. I often resolve to read more of him but somehow it doesn’t get done. Maybe that was a phase I went through… There’s nothing else in my schedule for the rest of the week, so I guess I could make a trip to the bookstore and snag that bargain hardcover of Oz novels. Something to pitch me over the rainbow without drinking beer in a time when escape is desirable. But this wouldn’t be much different from reading Hoffmann. The point is to get out of the house and see some people.

Noon hour. The sun has come out but simultaneously it’s windy. My dog is growing more “food motivated” all the time, and also pickier about what he eats… I’ve thought about the kind of language I use when I compose posts, and about speech in general. I feel that I should get with the present time and place instead of being an anachronism or a throwback to things nobody remembers. Even the language itself changes, dropping some words as archaic and all but obsolete. Fifty cent words are worth nothing to people who don’t know their definition, and people don’t bother to look them up. Let’s see if I can keep this resolution and keep the words simple. 


The Love Scholar

Quarter of midnight.

Gazing over the book titles on Amazon and reading reviews of The Bell by Iris Murdoch takes me back to a little trip I made to the university bookstore with a friend in June 1987. In the section of general books I found The Bell and also The Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle, which I bought because I wanted to understand more about the subject of love. It didn’t benefit me very much, however, for my friend dumped me a few weeks later, on the weekend of the Fourth of July. I was devastated by this rejection. Now I ponder if love is a thing anyone really understands in an intellectual way. Perhaps my approach was all wrong the whole time? And yet I can’t change the way I am, so I might as well accept myself as I am. Would this be a kind of love?

Why is there such a disparity between loving and knowing? The first one does, the other one thinks. It’s a sort of dualism, a reflexive situation: mental energy turned back upon itself, like narcissism; like gazing at one’s reflection in a pool or stream. You pursue the stream back to its wellspring, but in doing this you lose knowledge, because perception depends on opposition of subject and object. Two years after I was jilted by my girlfriend, I wrote a paper on “Alastor,” a poem by Percy Shelley, but my essay really said more about myself in its analysis of the water imagery, which was like Narcissus and his reflection… So what have I learned about love since then? It is in the chest and not in the head; something done and not cogitated. Love simply is. 


Seven thirty.

I looked at the political news during the night and regretted it. Better instead to steer clear of those things and focus on my own happiness. Also making others happy, for I am a utilitarian. The sun splashes orange on my back fence… A neighbor from over on N. Park just brought me the mail that had been delivered mistakenly to him. Aesop went absolutely berserk, barking his head off. The man apologized for ringing so early in the morning; he was a big burly guy with a brown beard in a fluorescent green sweatshirt. I appreciate his honor in returning my mail to the right person, though I was a bit unnerved… Last night I dreamed about my pug Henry, whom I lost nine years ago. I had him for ten years after my mother passed away. He was just adorable and very sociable with everybody. Occasionally I’ll have a dream about dogs or puppies. I remember when Aesop as a puppy would lick my face at bedtime.

Quarter after nine. I have three engagements this week, plus Damien is coming to do more yard work for me. Today it’s Heidi at two o’clock unless she is still sick… Speaking of sick, I don’t feel so good this morning. I think it’s allergies; I coughed and sniffled while I was outside a bit ago, and then there are the natural aches and pains of aging. Mental pain is the worst of all, so I’ll probably not go to church again. I think Carlos Williams nailed it: “no ideas but in things.” Elaborate ideologies are a huge headache to me, moreover they’re less likely to be true. I love what is immediate and sensory. Sometimes I want to take a holiday from my brain. Untie the knots and smooth out the kinks and simply exist for a time. Feel something. If a notion is too complex, weed it out and go with the simpler explanation. It’s a beautiful sunny sky flecked with white clouds. A distance off, someone is mowing their lawn. Simplify your life. 


Eleven twenty five.

I got a lot done this morning. Now Aesop has his flea medication; all I have to do is give it to him. It was overcast a while ago, but just now the sun is coming out and the sky is mostly clear. Nice to see the blue sky. In the old days I would drink it up and savor its beauty. Sometimes I wonder what Thomas Hardy would do with a problem like recovery. He was such a fatalist, but presented the idea brilliantly. I especially liked his writing because he challenged my position on free will so convincingly. It made me want to prove him wrong. I don’t know if that’s what I did or not. Recovery itself could be fated from a first cause, so Hardy would still be right. The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of the best books I ever read… It’s almost like magic how sobriety increases your fortunes. It used to be that I never had any money. My checking account was often overdrawn due to my alcoholism.

Three ten in the morning.

There isn’t much to say right now, but I happen to be up. I took my daily medications, thinking about my separation from the church. It seems to me that Pastor’s sermons messed with my mental health, and this went on for a long time. Finally I think I can just be myself. No ideologies are really needed to live by. I used to believe that Freud was my belief system, but now it’s not even that. I was right about Pastor being excessively political and sociological. This complicates the experience of life unnecessarily. I think I’m just a realist at this point. It’s like what happened to philosophy after the 19th Century: the decline and fall of the Absolute and the rise of the age of analysis. But even this is too cerebral. In the case of schizophrenia, all that is required is to take the medication. The rest is simply getting on with your life, and for me, music is all I want to do.