Mesmerized

Wee hours.

The person who put the brakes on my music was only me, but it’s for a good reason. I’m about three weeks away from my five year sober birthday. Making music is often a slippery activity for someone in recovery. In this case, we just do the best we can… I have the strangest memories of my eighth grade in the fall season. My parents had the television on constantly. I can still remember the music from some of the commercials, like for Sizzler Steakhouse: steak and langostino shrimp, where the music was Polymoog synth and a Fender P Bass, very pretty, like lounge music. Today I don’t even own a tv. I know some people are addicted to it. If I had one, it still wouldn’t be the same as when I was a kid. After my mother died I began to see television for what it was: a brainwashing tool, like having the Central Scrutinizer in your own home. Or like a scene out of Fahrenheit 451. Totally dystopian. I think I’d rather be liberated from all that. Then again, a person could argue that social media is just another form of hypnosis along with tv and everything else…

Wits Lost and Found

Eleven twenty five.

Beware the ides of March and the evil you find in your spam mail. This weekend, my wits went on holiday temporarily and I joined a dating website. An impulse made me spend $60 to upgrade my service early this morning. But the whole thing happened as if an aphrodisiac fell from the sky, like the wormwood in Revelation. I want to say that I was not responsible for these events, but of course nobody else was to blame. Even if I was blameless, it’s still good to assume control and power over what occurred yesterday and today. This is what responsibility really means, presuming that every individual is a free agent, whether or not there’s poison in the air or in the water. When things get out of control, I have to get ahold of myself and check my impulses. It’s like what the thunder said in the Upanishads. Damyatta: control your desires… As it is, I’m out my $60, but it could have been worse. 

Reverie

Quarter after eight.

I spotted the moon in the west as I ambled the sidewalk toward the little store. It was two thirds full and ghostly. Today is Heather’s last day working at the market, so we said our goodbyes. She was realistic when she said she’d probably never see me again… Last night I had a problem with my smoke detectors chirping. Unfortunately I think it’s an electrical issue with the house. In my depressed state I thought it was an act of god or something else superstitious. But I’m feeling better this morning and the sky is blue to the west. Tomorrow there will be no therapist to answer to: another positive thing. I feel kind of like surfing the web for new friends. Maybe find a philosophy club online.

Nine ten. I had a friend once who was a fan of Rudolf Carnap, and to a lesser extent, Bertrand Russell. She was a hard boiled realist most of the time, though when I first met her she admired Gerard Manley Hopkins. That was a decade ago, but I still remember our emails to each other. I recall struggling to read “The Wreck of the Deutschland” to impress her, and indeed it was very difficult to decipher. I read it through, but didn’t really understand it… I guess I’m in a reverie of friends gone and friends still here. I’m not a stoic or a believer in mindfulness. To think about the past is human. 

Ship of Fools

Four o’clock in the morning.

I plan on going to church this morning because it’s a community thing, and it’s real and concrete as opposed to the virtuality of blogging. I’ve thought of quitting WordPress many times. The contention of competing voices on the website seems to me rather stupid and pointless anymore. I should have better things to do than get into a war of words with a confederacy of dunces, so today I’ll chuck it all and march off to the church on Maxwell Road. When church is done, I’ll come home and probably take up Wittgenstein’s Tractatus for a taste of real philosophy, like sipping a fine wine. I repeat that if people want free erudition they ought to check out Project Gutenberg and read some classics. I would even consider going back to being a volunteer proofreader for them. It’s a place for learning new things and it’s a great experience. 

Melancholy

Quarter of six.

I had a lot more bad dreams during the night, mostly about church, but also I was worried about having enough money to pay my bills… I’m not having much fun with social media anymore, and finding true friends is getting harder to do. I feel very depressed, and I know I’m a wet blanket for people to be around. Everybody needs love, but I don’t think social media is the way to do this. Everything is getting more and more impersonal with the passing of time. Nowadays, D.H. Lawrence is regarded as a controversial figure, but when I went to school he was canonical. His writing was prophetic of what has happened since his own time. People can’t really connect with each other anymore. You could do much worse than to read his Sons and Lovers… I had another dream: I was singing along with Freddie Mercury on “My Melancholy Blues.” And a poem by John Milton occurs to me, where he says he bears the “gentle yoke” of God; and somewhere in the Bible it is said that “his yoke is light.” Now I don’t know whether I agree with that or not, but when people are going wrong, where else can you turn for friendship but inward?

Seven forty. I’m going to church today just to be around real people for a change. I told Heather I was tired of social media, and she said social media is a “bastard.” Interesting word choice, because recently I reread The Winter’s Tale with the scene of carnations and gillyflowers: nature’s bastards. If anything is artificial and illegitimate, it is cyberspace and the way we abuse it… Heather had forgotten my name and asked me to remind her. I thought that was rather odd. But you know, a lot of things are going haywire, though it could be my depression causing everything else. Probably not everything is going wrong, but my perception makes it so… The morning is cloudy and gray and not very warm. There’s still time to redeem the day. 

On Holiday

Six twenty.

Predawn blackness outside. I think I’m done sleeping, yet I’m tired. I’ve written in my blank book that I’m sick of the sermons about culture and the doom and gloom. I’ve had enough: it’s time for a holiday. Instead of saying “we” I’m going to say “I.” And I will make a clean break with the church once and for all. I contributed all I could. Tried to help Pastor out during the summer and fall. Time to say goodbye… There should be daylight in about twenty minutes. I see a gray glow in the east right now. The promise of a day that’s just for me. Nature cares nothing for society, and can’t be blamed for it. The sun in the sky is equal opportunity and available to everyone. I plan on disengaging from the media for a while. No news and nothing social when I go on holiday. Unplug the devices and turn off my phone. Had enough of thought control. Then I will write more in my blank book, conferring with my own spirit and shaking off the BS. I might buy a little tub of ice cream today. I’d forgotten what it’s like to treat myself. 

Monkey Do Again

Six thirty.

Feeling angry and frustrated with blogging, so maybe I’ll leave it for a while. If I don’t, then I won’t expect to get many likes. I’ve always been a nonconformist, so why try to change now? Somewhere in the world there must be satisfaction. All around me I see compliance to social norms, and never a risk taken. People do things just because everybody else is doing it, or because they saw it in the movies.

Nine twenty five. A change is overcoming me. It has something to do with belongingness and togetherness, yet still I don’t know if it’s a good thing. I just heard a conversation at the store about police practices in Michigan. It sounded quite Orwellian and oppressive. For a long time now I’ve been concerned with public versus private life, and which deserves more weight. I think social media is overrated at this point. Having a good friend to correspond with is great, but I dislike the feeling of being compromised by a majority. Perhaps blogging has outworn its usefulness. Maybe it’s the end of the road for me… The sun peeks through for a moment, but we’re supposed to get a lot more rain this week. I’ll probably help with church Friday night. Meanwhile, I’ve found my copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and will spend time with that. 

Strange Days

Nine o’clock. I had a dream thought while lying in bed half asleep: my optic nerves did something odd and I believed I was hooked up to WiFi. My brain was connected to the internet and I didn’t even need a device to send messages. And while there’s something messed up about that, all of my friends are in cyberspace these days. The people I know locally don’t have a similar worldview to mine. Love computers or loathe them, I have technology to thank for the friends I currently keep.

It was a strange day, but then every day seems stranger than the last when you stay sober and take the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” The air is again smoky from the California wildfires. You see people going around everywhere in a face covering from the virus. And the same radio station that plays Alice In Chains also does “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” If it didn’t, then somebody would feel left out of the oversoul airwaves. 

Body Language

Four thirty.

I finally figured out what causes my insomnia: it can be no other than the Vraylar. It’s a side effect of the medication. Probably there have been other ones as well, and I just didn’t recognize them. I bet constipation is one. Here it is the wee hours of the morning, the sky and everything cloaked in blackness. The sounds of the railroad faintly reach me. It feels cold because the furnace is turned down. Aesop lies on top of my feet. Fifteen minutes have already elapsed since starting to write. One thing I’d like to remember is the importance of body language in social interaction. A live presence, a meeting in person, is much different from something solely verbal. Our gestures and every movement of face and body express ourselves. This didn’t dawn on me until I met with Ron on Friday afternoon. As any impressionist writer knows, so much is said in the silences. What words or musical notes don’t say, the silence implies. And the same for body language. It reminds me that I am responsible for my facial expressions and body movements. Dependence on electronic communication had obscured from me the truth. For meeting in the flesh there is no substitute. In this sense, DH Lawrence has been absolutely right. No machine, therefore, will ever be able to feel anything. Do machines have body language? The question sounds absurd. Lawrence is amazingly farsighted for his century. He spoke a prophecy for all of us, one that we haven’t heeded. I daresay we never will.

What Is Real?

The morning is clear and blue, and the forecast says upper eighties today. Volunteering with the food pantry is one small way I give back to the church. Another way is by reading to the assembly. A third is by playing with the choir. Although a lot of my life has been lived in my imagination, a few of my deeds have been real. Nowadays the distinction between reality and imagination has become blurred, what with social media and other cyber activities. I had two therapists who denied the substantiality of Internet relationships. They asserted that these were unreal. I think I disagree, having experienced them myself. Both of these therapists were older than me and possibly less adaptable. They could be swayed by watching a movie but maybe not by tapping or typing. I found my way to social media by means of desktop computers. It started with a rock star’s online guestbook in December 2010. That was where I met the woman in Scotland. From there I became a volunteer proofreader for Gutenberg for a couple of years, and then started my blog three years ago. All this from a desktop computer with a slow connection! I never owned a smartphone until last April. Imagine me typing on an old Dell quiet key keyboard amid the smoldering ruins of my house, with an Internet connection hanging by a thread. That’s sort of how it’s been. But do we say that all that was unreal? I don’t think so…