I had a close call with alcohol this afternoon but talked myself out of it again. It’s a mistake to believe I have any control over my drinking. If I start to do it, then I really am “powerless” over alcohol. The way I see it is, I only have freedom and power as long as I don’t drink: my freedom consists in sobriety itself. To drink is bondage.
The best demonstration of this is the novels of Thomas Hardy. So I dug out Tess of the D’Urbervilles, intending to read it for the first time. His belief in fate hinges entirely on alcoholism if you read his books carefully. I love The Mayor of Casterbridge as a perfect example. And I’ve read Jude the Obscure three times. Jude’s undoing is alcohol and his first wife Arabella, a curvy little bitch who works as a barmaid. But the role of alcohol is clearer in his earlier books. Tess was his penultimate novel to be published, and might be better than Jude. So anyway, by reading Hardy I’ve figured out an antidote to the idea of fatalism, which is simply to avoid alcohol— or maybe not so simple.
I feel much better now than I did before four o’clock today. I knew I felt well enough to play my G&L bass, so I did that for an hour or more, and then I sat down and analyzed my feelings in writing, concluding that therapy is not for me. It was like throwing a millstone off my shoulders, and immediately I felt better. I think I’m capable of navigating my own ship. Sometime this month I want to take my other bass guitar to a technician for modification. I have the part I want to install already: a Di Marzio Model P hum bucking pickup with ceramic magnets. I love these pickups for their milky tone and high output. I hope the weather cooperates next week so I can walk over to the bank to cash my check. This will be my transportation money. I think everything will work out just fine.
Until now I’d forgotten how I love January, and you know, it doesn’t matter if I get mystical with the zodiac; I might take a peek at my new astrology book, indulge my curiosity and contemplate the thing called fate, even like Thomas Hardy, once my favorite novelist.
Nine ten at night.
I think maybe I missed my calling in life: I should have been a clinical psychologist and helped people with their problems. But first I had to surmount my own stuff, like the schizophrenia and alcoholism. By far the alcoholism was the deadlier disease. And it’s possibly the kind of thing that runs its course until you come to an impasse of choosing life or death. The spirit of intoxication is really the devil in a bottle, or perhaps it’s the Grim Reaper with scythe poised over your head. Who else carried a sickle in mythological tradition? It was Saturn, the Roman agricultural god, known to the Greeks as Cronus, father of Zeus. According to the tradition, Saturn showed the Romans how to make wine. The name of Saturn was probably related to the name of the devil for Hebrews, but the only evidence I have for that is in a book of astrology by Ronald Davison, and he gives no sources for his claim… So much for impressionistic thinking on alcoholism. Now I’ve lost my train of thought.
I was just on Amazon and ordered Parkers’ Astrology, a book that was recommended to me by a bookseller friend about twenty years ago. The copy I bought from her I ultimately threw away because of the superstition that was prevalent in 2009 or so. But today I feel free to come and go on the topic of the zodiac. It’s a fascinating thing, the way it puts mythology into practice, assigning meanings to the planets, which in turn exert an influence on human fates; unless it’s all a self delusion. Still, astrology is an art that has been around for a few thousand years. In a nonspecific way, even Thomas Hardy subscribed to the fatalism of the stars, whether provident or improvident, and he wrote his novels so persuasively, compelling you to believe his worldview. But the greatest confrontation with fate is to read Ancient Greek tragedies by such playwrights as Aeschylus…
Quarter after four.
So that: what I really miss now is the old elixir of beer and wine, and maybe not so much the people I used to know. And yet I know there are a million reasons why I shouldn’t drink again. The most obvious one is its impact on my personal finances; my money tends to magically disappear when I use alcohol. Also my health would go down the tubes, and psychologically it takes me to some awfully dark places, like living a Herman Melville book… I would only become chemically dependent again, have withdrawals, and at the same time the schizophrenia would grow worse. Now I wonder what happened to precipitate my thoughts about alcohol. Probably there’s a connection with my rock band of these cravings. One of the other guys was keen on a few decadent poets, so out of curiosity I looked them up. I think I’ll let him have the Kerouac book I just bought. Moreover, I might seriously consider leaving the band for a healthier situation… Time flies. Hard to believe it’s July, and the day is sunny yet quite mild. It’s a beautiful summer’s day. I could go for a big root beer from the little store, something really sweet, cold, and wet.
Quarter of six. I waltzed over to the market and bought a two liter of A&W root beer while the weather was perfect. Cathy and JR were working this evening, she at the register and he making ice. Reflecting on it now, it’s true that alcohol increases love desire for people, as Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth. It even imbues people with qualities they may not actually possess. It’s interesting to be a sober observer of life’s drunken drama. I stopped at the salon coming home and had a chocolate donut with Karen and Jessica. Karen told me that Kim is coming back to work toward the end of the month, doing one day a week. Also Karen is able again to serve people in the senior home on Mondays. And she said her husband is doing well… Then I came home. I didn’t notice much else along the way. Now I think it should be fascinating to read my Thomas Hardy books because of the element of alcoholism and its relation to his fatalistic worldview.
Quarter of noon. A few minutes ago I poked through a box and pulled out an old copy of Wordsworth’s selected poems and prefaces. The brown spots of age couldn’t be avoided, but I still really love this book. When I read it the first time, my comprehension wasn’t very good, and getting through it was a struggle. And yet I think I absorbed much of it subconsciously. The year 1993 was an interesting one for me. That Christmas Eve, my dad gave me the complete ballet of The Firebird, which was a big thrill when I listened to it and The Song of the Nightingale… I can hear neighbors mowing the lawn in the sunshine. I feel a lot better than I did yesterday, and now I’m done with the vaccination. It does seem rather like an exercise in conformity, but I guess our government knew what was best for us. Aesop has fallen asleep at my feet. There are times when I wouldn’t mind owning a television, but the cost of cable tv is extortionate in my opinion. About twenty years ago, cable was the first expense I got rid of. And even if I had television, then Aesop wouldn’t be sleeping peacefully as he is right now. I guess the fewer the hooks I have in me the better. Reading poetry is not a hook. It is something I have control over, while tv tends to be the controller of what you see.
Two thirty. I wonder why alcohol and sex, or maybe sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all go together in a bundle. Thomas Hardy observed how drunkenness and sexuality and the way of the natural world all go hand in hand, at least in our culture. These things are the makings of fate, so how is it possible to remove yourself from the plan? I guess you just go to church or something else drastic. It seems to have worked for me, though I don’t know how. Doubtless it’s something cultural. A lot of people would refuse to do what I did. Probably even Hardy would’ve been reluctant to join something Christian— and that’s why his fatalism failed on me, and I discovered a new avenue to free will. I broke the spell of his Casterbridge novel by stepping outside of his world of Wessex— by going where the author himself wouldn’t go.
Quarter of seven.
At midnight last night I spun the disc of Rubber Soul and really enjoyed it. The vocal harmony on “Nowhere Man” sounds awesome remastered. I love the following lines:
Nowhere Man, don’t worry
Take your time, don’t hurry
Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand
The pastor of the Lutheran church is a huge Beatles fan. I wonder if I should go see him this Sunday morning? But you know, my life keeps changing, and I don’t feel very religious anymore. Today I have DDA group again, and this program is hardly religious at all. They must’ve figured out that homeopathy doesn’t work for schizophrenia. If you have religious delusions, why fight them with more religion? I remember when psychiatric rehabilitation was a very uncomfortable thing… The sun is coming out, and pretty soon I’ll take off to the store. One of my core beliefs, from the time I was in junior high school, is free will, due to the song by Rush. Thomas Hardy held just the opposite opinion, which is fatalism, but this depends on the universe being designed by an intelligence. I think it’s desirable to believe in your own responsibility and be an active agent. Passivity doesn’t conduce to personal happiness. We have to legislate the world ourselves by what we do… and this is what democracy is all about.
One o’clock. I just got back from Bi Mart, where I picked up my prescription. Good to see Shawn and Jeanine. Today has a weird vibe to it, though. I was thinking about how life could have been different if I’d never started drinking. Maybe something would have intervened in my relationship with my mother. As it was, I was trapped and stuck with her. I also thought of how my brother associated me with my dad, which was very unfair. He considered me a miniature replica of him, but I never liked my dad.
Quarter of four. My day is not going very well, mentally speaking. I don’t have much control over my memories, and these things in turn come to control me. I need a stronger ruler over the populace of my mind, all the remembered feelings and states from the past. Probably the heat has much to do with it. And I feel alone and lonely, at the same time that I’m overborne with public opinion and expectations. It was rather odd that I bought a textbook on sociology, for my personal instinct is to fight that kind of mentality. Life at the individual level has always made more sense to me than trying to grasp the spirit of the age. I guess I’m going through some growing pains. For a long time I believed that my only problem was agnosticism; but no, there’s the datum of society to reckon with, from family units outward to the globe. I haven’t managed very well with my family, and maybe I’ll never be popular in any capacity. But at least I won’t die alone and friendless, an old drunk living in a hovel like The Mayor of Casterbridge. I used to believe that my doom was sealed, and I would drink myself to death. Evidently the stars had another plan for me. What that destiny is will not be clear until my life is played out. I’m glad, however, that Thomas Hardy didn’t write the plot!
Quarter after eight. Just thought I would look in my heart and write. S— wrote of a full moon in summer that she could not see but could feel, one that woke her from a sound sleep at 5:07am. The time of my “Honeymoon” post was 5:08am— Pacific time, but still rather curious. I rummaged among my boxed books and found Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and compared it with the second copy I had. The first one was published prior to the takeover by Penguin Random House, hence worth more to a collector. Then I googled the Sidney sonnet regarding looking in your heart and writing… and found it appropriate to what was on my mind. I mean to ask S— if she’s ever thought about someday getting married. The question is harmless enough. Noncommittal on both sides… I think it was Balzac who carried on a written correspondence with a woman for 15 years before finally proposing to her. And most people know the famous true story of Robert Browning’s elopement with Elizabeth Barrett. He fell in love with her through her poetry… I must be dodgy from the moon, but it feels all right, and I’m going with it.
I just thought of Jude the Obscure for some reason: perhaps a man with schizophrenia in a low social position is destined to remain low. Would that be the desire of nature? Or is that really justice? Do I have a say in the matter? Life is not a Thomas Hardy novel, thank goodness. If it were, then the booze would’ve killed me already. As it is, I feel stranded in a parallel universe outside of my old shoes, a sort of limbo, or better, on top of Mt Olympus for the gods to judge my fate. It’s as though there’d been an intervention on the part of Pallas Athena, spiriting me up to the court of the gods for a decision. The old natural me has been left behind like an empty shell— the same way as John Carter when he was teleported to Mars in the 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Now I begin to detect a plan in all my actions since starting my blog three years ago. The disembodied spirit that is me awaits the verdict of the powers that be, and from there, who knows what might happen? Not a Thomas Hardy novel: the story is mine, and I also am the protagonist. As author and hero both, I write my own destiny, not on Mars, but here and now on earth…
Mermaids: the elocution of a saint
In time forgotten I read in my bed
Pug at my side, so ugly he was cute
And life was not so rough as then it seemed
The room had been my dad’s outfitted with
A rack of fishing poles and chests of drawers
The rug was brown the curtains floral orange
Above the dresser were a lamp and mirror
This was the room where I read Thomas Hardy
Nine years ago and marveled at his power
I hardly read a book for being drunk
Every other day I could afford
And now a memory is all that’s left
Of the master bedroom where I used to read
The poetry of Hopkins densely packed
With adjectives so colorful as if
The music of the words sufficed the poem