Progress

Everyone has to make their own mistakes and learn from them, and I doubt if there’s a perfect way through life. All of the warnings from others in the world are wasted breath. And I think that to a great extent individuals live out their genetic blueprint, and this is the basis for the force we know as Fate. Wow, when I consider the tragedies of the Ancient Greeks, so religious with the Chorus and the characters interacting on the stage, having a primitive yet civilized understanding of natural forces completely out of their control: it’s an awesome thing. I guess all traditions in the world have the same natural conditions to reckon with, plus the peculiarities of their region. Like if you lived in Hawaii with an active volcano, a power of nature beyond human comprehension, this thing becomes your god by its very mystery to a primitive intellect. So it makes me appreciate the state of modern science and the wonderful achievements of human reason over the centuries, and what a pitiful sacrifice if we ever lost all that knowledge and wisdom. Perhaps the existence of religion really depends on humble ignorance of how nature works, as you can even read in Job, where God hurls down challenges to the state of Job’s knowledge. But what if Job had possessed that knowledge of nature? What would’ve happened to God?

I think that religion depends on mysteries, the information that people simply don’t know. We invent gods to explain the phenomena we don’t understand, just as the Greeks did before they dispensed with their pantheon and philosophy replaced religion.

Is there anything really so heretical about knowledge and wisdom? I tend to think that God is a boogeyman for the things we can’t explain rationally. Edith Hamilton wrote that mythology is a primitive kind of science: people make up stories to explain what they don’t understand.

This is the kind of stuff I learned in high school, before I started drinking alcohol and going astray. Now I’m thinking that there’s no substitute for knowledge, especially scientific knowledge. And even Mark Twain was a real optimist about technology and progress. Merlin and his magical tower are no match for modern sophistication in A Connecticut Yankee… I should go back and read that book again. The attitudes are very cocky and irreverent and yet very hilarious.

The Road to Our Redeemer

Nine twenty.

Some days my shots miss the target wide by a mile, and yet my misses are part of the overall journey of discovery. I believe the dartboard is movable depending on public opinion, so really it’s of no consequence to me… Owing to loneliness, I had a rather crap day. Is it a case of self pity when you admit how lousy you feel? But I was never a stoic kind of person. Band practice was canceled as I anticipated, so that means I’ll spend the weekend by myself unless I go to church Sunday. I guess I’ll write a check to God and make an appearance with the assembly. It just seems like pounding money down a rathole, because I think I’m basically an atheist— but for the human spirit, the human community. Only in my earliest memories do I feel any connection with the Jungian God, an evocation difficult to reproduce today with all my factual clutter. The connection Wordsworth had with Nature was simplistic; he had to clear his mind totally to feel the presence of the divine from the countryside. So, is it really possible to commune with a God in a cityscape of harsh angles, ugly power and telephone lines crisscrossing the sky, whizzing motorcars sending up pollution to the moon, and amid the loud hum of everything electrical? I think it was Thoreau in Walden who wrote a grotesque description of the railroad with the black beastly locomotive intruding on the natural scene. And some people argue that nature and artifice are a false dichotomy! I wonder how they can maintain that point of view after reading a book like Walden?… And so I’ll go to church on Sunday, walking the backstreets to unromantic Maxwell Road, where I might find the graffiti of the prophets written on the sidewalk. 

Changes

Eleven o’clock.

It’s hard to admit that I’m getting older. The root beer from yesterday disagreed with my gut, so I guess I can’t tolerate soda anymore. My brain can think one thing, while my body has quite a different opinion of what’s healthy… My drinking days are definitely over, even though I still remember when getting tipsy felt great. And that’s why I keep reminiscing on my old friends, long since gone away… I really love my Kiloton bass, and I rue the death of rock and roll. It would be such a devastating loss if people couldn’t enjoy live music anymore… Any minute now I’m going to pick up Henry James and spend some quiet time reading.

Two o’clock in the morning.

I think reading James will make anyone a better writer, although I put down The Ambassadors yesterday morning, declaring it quite boring. I have to be in the right mood for it. Here it is the limbo time before Friday. No one said anything about having a band rehearsal this weekend, so I assume it won’t happen… I understand that cyber friendships are becoming more and more common in our culture, thus I guess there’s nothing wrong with accepting the changes wrought by technology. Two different therapists I had seemed to believe that internet relationships were invalid due to being somehow unreal, hence they were unhealthy. But these people were older and resistant to change. One of them insisted that body language was over fifty percent of communication between people, an opinion that I contested on the spot… Sometimes I used to summon the vision of D.H. Lawrence to decry the computer age, saying how unnatural it was, how it perverted our instincts, and so on. However, hardly anybody reads Lawrence anymore, as if he’d been a relic of the 1980’s curriculum. A month ago even I tried to read his poetry and was shocked by the pornography on every page. So I reckon that in the end, everyone must go with the flow and roll with the changes, or else get left behind. 

The Neon God We Made

Nine ten.

Life is strange. If you don’t drink, it’s even stranger. Apparently someone stole a letter from my mailbox a few months ago and used my identity to try to get a refund from the IRS. I don’t know how long it will take to sort the whole thing out, but there’s only so much I can do each day. The days when people were honest and trustworthy seem to be over. I know I sound like an old fogy saying this. A couple of factors are involved in our decline: the failure of the education system and our dependence on machines. Nobody knows anything anymore off the top of their head, and people can’t think their way out of a paper bag. It’s as though we externalized our minds to cyberspace and then forgot how to use our heads. But in doing this, we’ve sacrificed our own souls, given ourselves over to an alien power and left our fates up to it. As if the machines could be more intelligent than humankind; but this will prove to be a fatal fallacy for us. It tempts me to go throw my iPad in the Willamette River. Short of this, there must be something we can do to correct the course we’re on. Crack a book, maybe, preferably something by D.H. Lawrence, or anything organic and healthy. 

Industry

Seven o’clock.

Recently I’ve been doing more writing in my blank book and getting away from electronica. I said somewhere that I don’t care if I never type on another PC keyboard, because it reminds me of the office job I had 15 years ago. It was data entry and very bad for the soul. I got addicted to alcohol and also to typing, and became a kind of machine hooked to a machine. And I externalized the contents of my mind to my computer in order to preserve them, like a sort of cloning process. In essence, the activity was quite sick and unnatural, the type of thing D.H. Lawrence would despise. It was like a mental blood transfusion, a vampiric exchange from me to the computer. It sucked the soul right out of me. So I’ve been trying to get away from that old habit to be able to live naturally and happily… Speaking of Lawrence, I still haven’t read his stuff in a long time. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. He had a healthy horror of industry that I could resonate with. I regret to see his work going neglected nowadays. He could inspire us all to be more human and alive… The sun is beginning to clear the roofline across the street from me. Yesterday it was beautiful all day. Today there’s Heidi at two o’clock. I guess I’d better get over to the store to buy my food and Snapples.

Quarter of nine. I just got back. The sky is cloudless and azure. Michelle wasn’t working today, but I didn’t ask any questions. Cathy checked out my purchases. No one in the store was particularly smiley this morning. A big shipment of food had been delivered in gray plastic crates, so Suk and Cathy were sort of preoccupied with inventory and getting ready to unpack. Then I ran into Derek on the way back home. Wade had hired him for his HVAC company. I tend to judge those guys for their politics. Wade used to fly a big MAGA flag at the top of his pole in the front yard. It’s just a rather sad situation with the neighbors. Way out east on Maxwell Road, my church makes an oasis in this political desert. The demographics are very interesting, the way people are zoned to different places. When it isn’t interesting, it can be a little disturbing. 

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.