Crying in the Wilderness

Four thirty. There’s just a light rain or drizzle right now. I’m not having a great day, but it’s not bad either. It’s better when I have people to see; being alone sucks. I get tired of the Internet and social media; it isn’t quite real. You’re only being intimate with your computer or device if you look at it a certain way. Except for going to the store every morning, each entire day is spent alone. My pen pal is a person I’ve never met and likely never will. What kind of life is this, subsistence in cyberspace? It’s totally unnatural, but we do it because it’s easier than dealing with each other in the flesh. The world is already so depersonalized from the one I grew up with, back when people answered their phones, and phones were rotary dial. For a long time I didn’t trust where technology was taking us; I’d read a lot of Lawrence and taken his warning seriously. Evidently most people missed his novels and stories. Now his voice is lost in the crowd of voices, like a whisper in a hurricane, ineffectual and tragic. But this doesn’t change the fact that he was probably right about our future; indeed we’ve fulfilled his prophecy and continue to do so. Someday nothing will be left of our humanity or of the natural world— and least of all the unheeded words of D.H. Lawrence. 

Reading, Thinking, and Living

Eight twenty five.

During the wee hours this morning I read the opening chapters of The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth. I found that it offers much food for thought concerning things like economics, technology, and progress as opposed to conservationists who would stop the self seeking and save the Earth. My knee jerk is to remember the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous where it criticizes the attitude of our having conquered nature with science. Their answer is to regress to the primordial ooze. My own question is, How far can human history progress in a straight line? Wouldn’t we do better to live cyclically with the seasons, the way Native Americans once did? Wouldn’t this harmonize better with nature? Maybe these questions are not so silly as they seem. I suppose I watched the original movie of Planet of the Apes too many times. The inevitable aim of technology is self destruction. This was the take home lesson I gathered long ago, and now I’m reevaluating my assumption. The consensus appears to be something different. Faith in science and technology may be okay after all.

Quarter of ten. There’s a heavy fog in the neighborhood. It isn’t very warm out, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. Hopefully I’ll see something new in the market today. Life without variety can be pretty dull. My pen pal wrote me a long email this morning that I really appreciated. She suggested that I might’ve outgrown the church, and that church was there when I needed it a few years ago. I agree, the congregation was very kind to me, and I am thankful to them… I can’t believe the kind of dreams and nightmares I have nowadays. They seem like someone else’s imagination. Surely mine isn’t that sophisticated? I seem to be still processing the problem of evil in human life since revisiting Macbeth last month. I’m not the only one working on it. Pastor is looking for an antidote to darkness for his flock. Everyone has been decimated by every event starting in March.

Quarter of eleven. I guess I’ll walk off to the store now. Life might give a few answers… 

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. 

Thursday Afternoon

Things turned around for the better in January 2019, when I met Heidi. We hit it off from the start. I haven’t seen her in over six months. I hope she’s doing well. Maybe tomorrow I’ll call LHC and see if she’s come back to work. She was on furlough from the lockdown. It used to be so much fun to go grab bubble teas at Cal’s. I was really kind of crazy about Heidi. Funny that I hadn’t thought of her in so long. We had a kind of tacit mutual understanding. She told me she was born in 1978, so she must be 42 years old. I always thought her face was pretty. Maybe I stopped thinking about her to protect my heart. What else does MS Word remind me of? I stopped using my PC on 11 March 2019, the morning of the fire. Gradually, I’m catching myself up to the present. Damien still hasn’t replied to my text this morning. It seems to be a bad day for trying to reach people. And then, probably I’ll hear from everyone at once. Tomorrow is church night all over again. I’m sort of dreading it, though at least I’ll be among friends. I feel rather lonely, and the heat is uncomfortable. There aren’t that many people I have deep conversations with. The one with Polly went better a few days ago. I didn’t feel paranoid or self-defensive as I would’ve with caffeine. I feel bored, too. Before the afternoon is through, I could play my P Bass. I may not be in the mood, though. Outside the front window, the clear sky even looks hot. Part of the whiteness might be from the forest fire in Salem. It’s supposed to be ten degrees cooler tomorrow and the next day. I can think of nothing more to say right now. One of those days. I’m running the fan just to move some air around. Currently it’s 88 degrees out.

Peace and Quiet

Ten twenty.

I slept in till after nine o’clock, then I marched off to the animal hospital and to Bi Mart for a couple of meds. Everything worked out fine. I’d had some bad dreams this morning about family, especially. But dreams are only dreams by definition; they are not reality. The truth they reveal is only the truth of yourself… Since my laptop arrived yesterday and I’ve played with it, I notice now the limitations of writing with a tablet. Expression is much freer with a word processing program and a conventional keyboard. Eventually I will switch over to composing posts with my laptop for the most authentic words and phrases… I still have to go buy food, etc, at the market. Thursday and Friday were very busy days for me, so now a quiet weekend ought to be nice. Church last night went quite well. I read at the lectern, sang with the group, and listened to the sermon. But I came home awfully tired. Roxanne was good enough to drive me home. She is the other reader at our services… I anticipate a cranberry soda; think I’ll head for the store right now, and take my time.

Friday Morning

Quarter after nine.

Another nice day is underway. I won’t go to the store until FedEx has delivered my laptop. Aesop shows that he might have a health problem, so I will monitor him today and see how it goes. My music day went very well yesterday. I slept okay, but my dreams were unpleasant. Something about the end of our sex lives, along the lines of D.H. Lawrence. I read a lot of his stuff when I was younger, and he was prophetic in many ways. He abhorred technology and industry because they rob us of our humanity. People should have taken a warning from his writing, but of course we were too stupid to pay attention. As a consequence, we’re looking at the sterilization of the human race and general ill health. If the body is the soul, as Lawrence stated, then our soul is withering away while the machine head takes control. Probably there’s no going back now because we still refuse to listen to good sense. Just be hopeful that the machines have a heart… It’s Friday, the day of filming the church service. If my package comes early enough, then I’ll likely go participate. I’ve let them know the situation in advance. I wish I’d stocked some food yesterday for today but all’s well that ends well… I think I’ll restring my bass today and play it this afternoon. Where there is music there is hope.

Lament

I’ve been meaning to read Jacob’s Room someday. Maybe now is a good time. If only I could warp time back to 1994 and be a student again! I would take a course in Woolf in a second. It’s such a beautiful day, I guess I’ll start Jacob’s Room right now. I want something for inspiration, so Virginia Woolf is a good choice.

Two o’clock. Jacob’s Room is about undergraduate life at Cambridge in 1906. Very intellectual stuff. Some people would hate it for that reason. But Woolf speaks of higher learning very reverently. It’s interesting to see her allusions to the works that constituted the old canon, the one I knew as a student. Now history all but forgotten. Shakespeare was once a towering literary figure. Since the Millennium, just another name. There are no more intellectual giants in our culture, for better or worse. What we once venerated and exalted as great is now on a par with the mediocre. We have proven that crap is king. We’ve dumbed ourselves down. We don’t have to work so hard mentally, thanks to technological progress. We don’t have to think about anything. The answers are all provided. Thus, reading Woolf is like time travel to a better past when there were no computers to do our thinking. No tablets to finish our words for——

Tuesday Night

Quarter after six.

I’d forgotten about the corona virus in my preoccupation with my new iPad. Typing on it calls up different ideas than my other devices. Maybe my attitude is a little more open and honest with this tablet… I was saying that I feel like a grown up sixth grader. I lack the ego and narcissism of the alcoholic I was derailed to be. I’m closer to the kid who read The Lord of the Rings. In that year, I sorely missed seeing Pam in school. She had left to go to a Catholic school. No other girl looked to me like she did… There’s a lot about sexuality that can’t be defined easily because no two people are alike, depending on your school of thought. Individuals are either entirely unique, or they have the same traits in different amounts. I think I prefer the former view. My teacher in third grade perceived me in a wholly different light from the one before. And when class had spelling bees, the team that had me would win. Life was fun when it was simple, and not so competitive and logical. It took a detour after around eighth grade, when the brighter students were singled out for enrollment in advanced English classes. An elite group was established in school. I found myself with either foot in two worlds, the academic and the musical. I rather wish that the latter had worked out. But both avenues got to be rocky roads on down the line. I guess it’s just a shame that we ever have to grow up and get jobs, marry and have kids, raise them and finally retire. A few of us choose the sideline, from where we write social criticism. At least from there we can feel relatively free, and free to express ourselves. What we do is often thankless, yet nonetheless writers provide a service… I think I’m going to like my iPad, and saying this occasions a deja vu from the time I was in the trailer. That’s all I know about it.

Encounter

Four thirty.

My iPad is now up and running. It’s a much bigger tablet than I expected. Takes getting used to. The setup took about 45 minutes, but it was quite simple… My experience of life feels so much different from anything in my past. It’s as if the self of being in grade school had been progressed to today, bypassing all those alcoholic years. Those were illegitimate, distorted by the essence of a chemical. I feel like a sixth grader again, full of vague, inarticulate thoughts. I had a lot of strange dreams last night, about the unreason of friends I’ve known, with some very basic drives, even homosexual. Of course, the illogic was mine as well, if not totally. A lot of the hostility between people arises out of the desire for each other we deny. Society doesn’t allow these feelings. I think it’s especially difficult in a bucolic State like Oregon to be a human being. We have only two large cities, and the bigger one dwarfs the other one. The therapist I used to see was from Indiana. She opined to me that Oregon sucks, and I didn’t disagree with her. In fact, maybe I said it first. By an odd trick of chance about a week ago, the taxi ride I was on stopped at O—— Counseling downtown, the location where I used to have sessions. I don’t know if my weird dreams were inspired by this encounter or not. I kind of regret that I curtailed sessions with Sheryl. It was out of fear that I bolted. Was she really the scheming mean person I labeled her to be? I’ll probably never know now.

Tuesday Thoughts

Three twenty.

My dream was probably inspired by reading A Swiftly Tilting Planet more than a month ago. The mail has arrived… My D vitamins were there, so I took one. I hope for a difference in mood very soon. I learned that the next food pantry is not until the 14th. Band practice is this Saturday at three o’clock. Maybe I can get to the laundromat this week? No other engagements I know of. It’s really only a time investment. A while ago I unwrapped a clock that belonged to Mom. It is small and white, electric, and analog. Made in the USA. It runs a little fast, and it varies in speed here and there, but it’s a good souvenir of my mother. The sun, partly confounded by clouds, is beginning to decline for the day. Calls to mind the Greek myth of Phaethon’s ride. I don’t remember what became of him after he lost control of the chariot. Was he punished? Or did he simply drown in the sea?… He drove the chariot too close to the earth, so Zeus struck him down with a thunderbolt, according to the internet. But I’d like to get it from Ovid myself. It was in seventh grade English class that I first saw a film of Greek mythology, and Phaethon was part of it. Mr Olson’s class, way back in 1980. In the days of film reels, with an analog projector on a pull down screen. The lights were turned off, and after the focus was adjusted, it was showtime.

Quarter of five. I feel more serene now, at peace, and equal to a challenge. Yet I wonder why my family can’t get along together. My mother wouldn’t have wanted it this way. My sister thinks it’s a sin to desire anything like knowledge or wisdom in this life. Book learning is against her religion because of a few stories in the Old Testament. I don’t know. I just can’t reach her in her redneck land. She has a hard time even forming original sentences in English. She doesn’t try, and never applied herself in school…

Eight fifty five. The New Testament also derogates human wisdom as opposed to divine, and Polly seems to have adopted this attitude as law. Some versions of scripture have it as “not philosophy but Christ.” So that if you spend your whole life with your nose buried in only the Bible, all other books in the world will seem forbidden and taboo. They are unworthy to be read and understood, let alone applied, for being mere human information, when only Christ knows what is important. Polly’s religion is so watertight and closed that all her hopes are pinned on the afterlife in heaven, and that’s a gamble she is willing to take… but not me. Do I admire her devotion, or rather mock it as foolish? Many people will scoff at her beliefs, including my brother. I can only shrug and leave her alone, for I don’t share her worldview, or rather her view that renounces the world. It’s very puritanical, like Anne Bradstreet or another throwback to 17th Century America. The best I can do is respect my sister’s right to believe, as long as the respect goes both ways. More likely, what seems like respect is really aloofness for incomprehension of each other. It’s too bad, but that’s life.