Nimbus

I dreamed I went back in search of four bass guitars I once owned that were my favorites. All but one were black, the other red. I was moving north on River Road, with Grocery Outlet on my left, searching for and recovering lost instruments and lost time. N—— from church was in the dream. It’s interesting how people we underestimate in daily life appear in our dreams, as fresh and vibrant as if holy and heroic. River Road itself appeared green with life and sunshine. The scene at the intersection of that and Silver Lane was nimbused or haloed with spiritual energy, like the circle around the full moon, except more like the sun’s corona. There was a glowing aura about everything, all green and yellow like a sunlit lawn in the summer. And there was I, trying to recollect the pieces of my broken life, when maybe the here and now is good as it stands. So many things gone, yet so much still here and on the horizon. Who was I to ask for more than this perfect light? And who was I period?

The Role of Music

Looking forward to playing Sunday, though I’m concerned about the element of alcohol on the premises. I hope no one gets too tipsy. I remember how alcohol used to ruin band rehearsals when I was younger. We made jokes about it. The fact is that alcohol destroys everything you undertake to do. It has a nasty way of usurping the role of what is important, whether the business is music or making glasses for low income individuals. It’s the ultimate sabotage. So yes I am nervous about the drinking during practice. Alcoholism is intimacy with some great reptile you pretend you can control. Unfortunately, music is a profession that people use as an excuse to drink or use drugs. Serious musicians don’t use substances. I can’t imagine Chick Corea getting wasted before a gig live or in the studio…

But I know that people who listen to music want to feel good. The performance of music aims at the pleasure of the audience. It makes me wonder about the role of pleasure in human life. Musicians are the merchants of dreams and beautiful things. Alcohol is part of the dream for many people. I also wonder what I’m getting out of the experience of making music. It’s a talent and a skill to be able to play, and that’s all I know. What is the cultural role of music? Is it about more than feeling good? Can it also be didactic; can it teach you anything? Perhaps it stimulates more than the heart? One would like to believe that music is a spiritual release, an exercise in being fully human. So that music is on a par with the best poetry. Hopefully it offers something for everyone.

Contemplating

Giving up alcohol is kind of like giving up every attachment to material things. It is such a spiritual liberation, experienced at a visceral level. If Christianity could be more like the Eastern religions, then I might be more interested. You don’t see terminology like “moksha” in the Christian Church. With Eastern practices, especially zen, no mediator (such as Jesus or the Church) is necessary. The only savior is yourself. There are a few Buddhist temples in my area, but that may be too formal for me. I always thought Hinduism made a lot of sense. It isn’t my project to renounce selfish desires totally, or not yet. I’m not sure that doing so is really possible. It certainly never worked to have abnegation and altruism shoved down my throat. What I’m coming to believe is that a spiritual plane exists, and that metaphysics and morals are conjoined. However, I know I’ll have to arrive at enlightenment independently. Reinvent the wheel. I don’t believe that Jesus is the way for me…

Platonism for Real

Two o’clock. The psychosis has departed to leave me reflective and a little sad. I feel like the lyric to a 1995 King Crimson song, “One Time.” It basically wishes for a one time reprieve from everything that is bad in life and hopes for an open hand. I like the song just for its honest expression of depression. If it weren’t a progressive rock tune, it’d be the blues. Now I wonder concerning the relationship between depression and the more severe mental illnesses. It seems to me that our natural state is to be happy, or anyway, happiness is our duty to society. Perhaps the farthest thing removed from joy is schizophrenia, and yet I never did anything to deserve it. Genetics is genetics. How amazing it would be if biology could be entirely psychologized. If the physics could be reduced to a state of behavior, an attitude of mind— to a verb rather than a noun, it would revolutionize the field of behavioral health. And this may be the trend anyway. On the other hand, could any schizophrenic person ever function without medication? Imagine finding a way to modify gene expressions just by altering the behavior. What we call “spiritual” could be the underpinning for mood, and in turn, mood could give rise to material reality as we know it. Then the songs we play and sing actually form moods into concrete existence. Therefore, depressing songs like “One Time” may someday be eliminated as unhealthy and counterproductive… Just thinking aloud…

Reflection on Job

Two o’clock. I sat down to study the book of Job. Indeed, can a man be more righteous than God? Or wiser or more knowledgeable? But this is the very friction between religion and science that I’ve witnessed since my seventh year. My sister took the first option, my brother the second. I’ve spent my whole life balancing the scales, succeeding in a degree of wisdom, but at the cost of peace and comfort; on the price of health and sanity. There is no easy answer to the problem of the process of living. While my siblings have enjoyed certitude all their lives, the hardest adversities have fallen upon me, and these are my inheritance. Still there are some who will criticize me for daring to solve the riddle. If I say I know nothing, and turn it over to the invisible winds, where might I end up? Would it not be the action of blind fortune, mere random chance? Is there a will behind the wind? William of Occam proscribed multiplying entities, and parsimony states that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be true. Yet the childish element in the human mind insists on anthropomorphizing a basically inhuman universe. Who made the heaven and earth? But there is no who: no creator, no maker in human shape or form… And yet, I remember how my early childhood was attended by a visionary gleam, even as Wordsworth describes. The glory and freshness of a dream. So is the end really dust to dust, or can the glow of infancy be restored? Is there a presence in the gleam?

Midnight Thoughts

Midnight hour. Aesop wanted to get close to me in bed, so I let him and we slept like that. Things have been stressful for him, for instance the construction workers being here every day. Aesop just wanted reassurance and perhaps to make amends.

As for music, I still maintain hope that I’ll find decent players to jam with. When the house is finished, I want to be able to plug into my big rig and rock the neighborhood. It would help if other musicians were clean and sober, as JP and Dave had been sixteen years ago. For now, it’s just a hope, a dream. And when something comes along, I pray that the Spirit attends it and ushers it toward fruition. I feel I want to be rejuvenated and revived, made well with the Spirit of the universe, this Romantic notion that AA puts into practice. I was such a great player in 2003, before the job hooked me on typing and drinking; before addiction sapped my vitality.

In retrospect, the hemochromatosis I had was probably due to abnormal liver function. When I quit drinking, my iron levels returned to normal. Both my stomach and my liver were affected by the heavy alcohol abuse. Good reasons not to drink again…

Carmen thought I was a control freak, and now I think she might’ve been right. I should let go and let the Spirit take over. The word “God” is too dogmatic for me; also too anthropomorphic. “Spirit” is just the Latin word for wind. Whatever, the power is real and auspicious, breezing through everything, animating matter. The things that kill it are bad, and dogma is one of them. For his liberal outlook I still prefer Emerson for inspiration, and any Romantic whose words breathe not dust but fresh air.

Feeling the Flow

Quarter after six. I’ve spent a quite miserable day lying in bed with Aesop. The dread of tomorrow’s lunch with Polly was ruinous. I don’t want to surrender control to my sister. I hate to think about what God wants. I never have believed in God, but if he exists, his tactics are inscrutable. Who knows? Maybe I’ll crack and rejoin my family. Then maybe Jeff will be the last straggler, the last to be saved. I should give Polly a fair hearing. Perhaps she’s a veritable woman of God, and I’m but a pawn in her God’s game. Perhaps her God is more alive than mine. It feels like my God is on life support. I don’t have much tactility or feeling lately. No sensation of pleasure or anything. Yet something happened to me last week, starting Wednesday. And Thursday evening was when my family showed up. When my cynicism recedes, what appears is more like a miracle. Maybe it’s up to me to make the call between providence and devilry. What is needed now is patience through the first meetup. Listen more than I speak, and watch my words. Over all there’s a sense of serendipity returning to my days, a purpose I’ve not felt since the millennial decade. The other trick is to put away the fear of the flow and go with it…

Thinking Aloud

I admit that I still don’t fit in with any church, Christian, Buddhist, or whatever, without question. No religion or school of thought will suit perfectly anyone who honestly thinks. I can’t say I believe Jesus existed. Is it possible for a man to be the son of God? No, because spirit or soul substance doesn’t exist. Ergo, God cannot exist either. Only atomic matter exists in this world. Trying to prove metaphysics yields inconsistent and chance results. Carl Jung was a quack. For once I’d like to see a good British skeptic be brought to light. Darwin owed something to his familiarity with David Hume…

On the other hand, theologians are aware of the arguments against God, particularly determinism. I state my case from ontology, from what kinds of substance exist. Aristotle said that matter and spirit, two qualitatively unlike substances, could not interact with each other. Therefore he threw out the spirit altogether. Meanwhile the Jains in India said that soul and matter are inseparable like water from milk. But it was all very metaphorical how they spoke of soul and the karmic particles attracted to soul. I don’t know. The latter, the not-soul, were material. They were what kept the soul in bondage. But the soul could burn off karmic matter by doing good deeds and ultimately free itself completely. In this state of liberation the soul would float to the head of the cosmos and stay there in a bliss of perfect wisdom. But can the existence of the soul be proven for a fact? Again, Jainism is subjective and metaphorical, introverted. Still, the philosophy is a beautiful one. Perhaps the beautiful is the true?

A Riddle

The sky is bright lemon and I feel strange. Orphaned. Lost and lacking identity. Take my own advice and go with the flow. Don’t judge what I see. This would be like DBT, a sort of mindfulness. Take it as it comes. Keeps things on an even keel. Ideas of what conduct is acceptable keep changing, too fast for me to keep track. Now marijuana is legal, transgender people can go around without a hassle, gay people can be church pastors… But Jennifer’s doobie this morning was a shock to me. That in her right hand, lighter in her left, she walked off to get her mail. Sometimes we cannot choose. Our conscious free will is an illusion. A gust of wind is blowing just now. The spirit breathes right through us all, making our decisions for us. It is the unconscious. An airline jet strives with the wind overhead. Easier to glide with the wind than drive against it. But in that case you’re not asserting yourself, and your identity is an empty passive vessel. It happens when you don’t say no. To always say yes is being a leaf in the wind, to have no driving will at all. That’s why I can’t do the Twelve Steps. Decisions are more than a matter of flipping a coin, as if we were consulting the I Ching for answers. And what does the music of an aeolian harp sound like? It is random noise, a cacophony with no human meaning. Is this what we call God’s will? The wind has no values, no morality, but rather shifts course by accident. It has no consciousness and no memory, no awareness of self. How then can this breath of heaven be trusted to guide human lives?

On My Third Anniversary

Nine o’clock. Just dreamed about trying to play bass guitar on a push button phone: it didn’t work. I wanted to accompany some Rush recordings with my own bass playing. The tones I got from a phone were unsatisfactory. Just an electronic beep and burble. Even the background music was not as expected. Neil didn’t sound like himself on drums. The soul of the music was lost in the Digital Age. So now I long for analog times, which sounded warmer and more natural, more human. As a 52 year old man, I feel like Rip Van Winkle, an anachronism, a man out of time. The rain begins again as I sit here tapping an accursed iPhone. Aesop stares at me innocently. I dread the day when they do bionic surgery on people. I’d rather die than live longer with computer chips in my body. Just let me go naturally, as the old BS&T song goes. One song that only I remember, unless it be fished out of the archives for commercial purposes. I heard it on the PA at Grocery Outlet once. Shop for your mortal needs while “And When I Die” reminds you that time’s a wasting. Time… but do they know about eternity? This is the part they don’t advertise, and it’s up to you and me to find it, on the Internet maybe, or better in the features of a landscape, both seen and heard. Or in the warm, smooth tones of a vinyl LP playing music of the earth and of the Spheres…