Methods

Nine thirty.

Cloudy but not raining so far. Does reading books clarify things or only muddy the waters? It certainly adds new language and associations. Last night I was considering the Unitarian church on 13th and Chambers, but now I don’t know. I’ve been through a lot since 2009, when I last thought about the Unitarians. It could be like a regression to old ways. Wisdom is important, however it is gained. Les Miserables is a painful book to try to read, but I think I’ll attempt it. Virginia Woolf seemed rather shallow by comparison. Hugo shows how people can slip through the cracks from wealth to poverty in a heartbeat. Woolf floated on the surface among the wealthy… Still, I miss the way it used to be, having Kate for a friend. My life was more enlightened then, at the same time that it was drunken and deluded. I was poor, of course, but I didn’t admit it. I remember my reaction when Kate said I didn’t sound very well: anger and resentment, followed by perverseness. I broke away from her empiricism and dove into intuition, reading Unamuno again. Spite drove me to join the church. But I also just wanted approval from someone. Criticism from three people cut me to the bone… I plan to help with the food pantry Saturday. The walk to the church will be good exercise. Sunshine right now. I think it will be a good day. Aesop had his breakfast. The ants have returned, so I doused them with more vinegar. Everything works out for the best.

Noon hour. I’m in a good mood today. Suddenly I am very thankful for my training in cognitive behavioral therapy. It saves me from a lot of anxiety and feelings of guilt. I had a friend long ago who cherished what she called insight. It was really intuition, I think. But it didn’t work for her very well. I actually knew a handful of people who trusted gut hunches to tell them about reality. They didn’t realize that peering inward only informs you about yourself. That was a long time ago. Everything was different then. I can now pick up a book of Emerson or Whitman and easily perceive the fallacy of their method. It’s very interesting to observe the ways people gather information. My sister can claim how she just knows something in her heart— and then be dead wrong. Emotional reasoning simply fails as an epistemological tool. So that Kate was right all along.

Hearsay and Conjecture

It’s another sunny day so far. I looked out the bedroom window and saw blue sky. A truck just passed on my street: a sign of life. But we’re in for a long time of penitence… I can’t get a call through to Laurel Hill. Ride Source says the agency is canceling a lot of things. So it’s really quite a desert out there. It’s become a ghost town, and people are staying home… I called Pastor, but he was in a meeting. He said he would call me back… I still can’t call Laurel Hill, so I might as well cancel my rides for tomorrow. But my iPad is still on for delivery today.

Ten o’clock. I canceled my ride to Laurel Hill tomorrow…

Eleven o’clock. I’ve talked with Pastor, Vicki, and the salon girls. Karen is cynical of the government’s control over the people. I agree that it’s a bit like Big Brother. We only have the word of the officials. Still, in some capacity, life goes on. I just fed Aesop half a can of chicken and rice dog food. Vicki sounded glad to see her loyal customers. Karen said the supermarkets will not be closed because we have to have food. Kim said that she’s had the same problem I had with phone calls. Pastor thought that the Internet would be overloaded in the disaster. I don’t know; it seems pretty lifeless to me right now… Suzanne just put a like on the post I made yesterday evening. I was very skeptical in it. Pastor has said something about social distancing in the crisis. I think the Internet is going to be very key for the next few weeks.

Noon hour. I can’t help but wonder how my brother is doing. Is he freaking out, or is he keeping a level head about the crisis? Usually he’s the type to be first in line, lying and cheating to get his way, and with the least expense to him as possible. This description may sound unfair, but it’s true, and I think his own criticisms of me would be equally merciless. Then why do I care what happens to him? I once perceived him a lot differently. And in reality he used to be a much different person. About ten years ago I observed him glumly watching tv and eating unshelled sunflower seeds: quite the image of ruthlessness and brutality. But if he hated his career so much, he should have opted for less stress— and less money. Unfortunately, money was his highest priority. His problem, not mine. His cutthroat career hardened him into someone unpleasant to be around. But after he retired, his sanity went downhill. He started doing stupid things, breaking the law and getting himself into trouble.

Quarter after one. My package hasn’t arrived yet. I suppose UPS is slammed with business lately. Amazon would be as well… I got through to Laurel Hill: my appointment would’ve been on for tomorrow, so I made the wrong guess. Now I have to call Darcy tomorrow and reschedule. It’s okay, however. Ride Source has limited its service to urgent or critical cases, so I don’t think I can make it to the agency unless I pay for a taxi out of pocket. A while ago I looked across the street: Diana’s blinds are shut in the front room. You’d think the virus was airborne and could penetrate the windows. No joke, for it could still happen. Yet Diana appears quite paranoid to me. I suppose she has a right to panic.

Two o’clock. I reckon I’ll read the Mount Doom chapter of LOTR. See the Ring destroyed, and all of Mordor shaken to the foundation. Outside, there are some signs of life: an occasional passing car, and Roger is working with tools before his garage door. The weather is perfect; from it, you’d never suspect that we’re in a state of emergency.

Original Copies

Four twenty five. Bass practice went much better today because I’d listened to some real music early this week. It stoked my mental ear with the sound of music, and then I could imitate what I’d heard. The activity of music is vitally mimetic, as I’m realizing more and more. Is there such a thing as originality? Music began in prehistory as mimesis of natural sounds, according to Schoenberg. Now in our time, music imitates other music. It is a process of copying what we hear. Plato said poets are liars, for they make copies of real life, which in turn copies the world of the Forms. During the Renaissance, it was believed that nature was God’s art, and human art copied nature. So what then is ever original in music and the other arts? Perhaps it’s just an accident of people being individuals. No two perceptions are exactly alike, nor can we reproduce what we see and hear precisely like the original. Art is mimesis, but the endeavor is not perfect: fortunately for us. Life would be boring if we knew the absolute truth. It would be Paradise regained, but this means an end to time.

Modality

I’d rather take my chances on the “highway” than accept Polly’s way. Dogma was never for me. There is hardly a truth in life that doesn’t change. Jeff’s scientific certainty is another dogma. My siblings used to ridicule each other’s perspective. Polly laughed at the way science facts were slippery and kept changing. Only her cornerstone had the eternal truth. Jeff mocked Polly’s Bible for being a collection of made up stories. My answer to them is that no dogma will endure forever. And that’s what I love about Emerson’s writing: almost unstable how it meanders like a stream, improvised from the start with no known destination. His method mirrors the way truth is, protean and dynamic, shifting shapes to deliberately elude us, never letting us nail it down, because the truth we crave doesn’t exist. The river has no bed, the ocean no bottom, the sky no firmament. What we do then is agree on illusions till the next one comes along. My dog is frustrated because he can’t catch a fly that made it inside. The same with people trying to grasp the truth once and for all. Our job in that case is to accept and enjoy the ride. When that happens, perhaps my problem will be solved. Then I can make posts about something else.