The weather report says rain, but I don’t see any, looking out my door… My brother believes what he sees on television before he’ll take my word for anything. We need to pull the plug on television and get a firsthand grip on reality. Trust the evidence of your senses and judge for yourself… I disclosed to someone about my illness in an email this morning. Time will tell how she takes the news. Disclosure is a crapshoot, but hopefully the dice are not loaded… I knew someone with a schizophrenic brother who couldn’t read Kafka or Dostoevsky due to his paranoia—
Gloria called to cancel for today. She feels miserable since her shingles shot yesterday. So my mind was made up then to go to the store on my own. So saying, I went on foot and only got a little wet on the return walk. Inside the market, I ran into Melissa, who likewise hasn’t felt well. It’s turning into a theme for the day.
Nine twenty five.
Maybe it’ll be an easy day today. I spent yesterday feeling stressed out on music matters. In time I will delete my post on Craigslist and forget about it. It isn’t worth the hassle and all the explaining I have to do.
It’s a mixed up kind of day. I didn’t get to market until noon because of a phone conversation with my sister that lasted almost two hours. My case manager is baffled by the email I sent him last night, so maybe my impressions were inaccurate regarding our last visit. But all I know is how I felt during that time: like a person under interrogation. It’s difficult to describe, and I might be all wet. What usually happens in mid October in my life? Except for the smoky air it would be a beautiful afternoon. I think old fashioned psychoanalysis is interesting, but it’s a language no one uses very much today. If we turn a blind eye to a certain fact, does the fact go away? Are the truths of psychology merely what people dream up and make terminology about? I don’t believe the things we neglect simply vanish. Or maybe we’ll see a Renaissance of psychodynamic theory not too long from now. Maybe it’s already underway but just not in Oregon. The trends are capricious and ever changing.
I feel like a child swinging a baton at a piñata in a dark room.
Quarter of seven.
I see no light on the horizon so far this morning even though the store opened at six o’clock. Often it’s hard to have faith in our present and future but we have to continue as if nothing were wrong.
Quarter after nine.
I slept in for a while. Last night I read a little known poem called “The Sleepers” by Whitman. It’s good but rather strange, though it contains truth that most people wouldn’t acknowledge, particularly Christian people or anyone who doesn’t like Freud. I enjoyed it, actually. The poem is honest and goes very deep into human experience. I’m not sure exactly when he composed it but it had to be after 1855 and before 1892. It seems the time was right for Freud at the turn of the last century, though he was preceded also by Henry James. I don’t know where the quote comes from, but when I took Shakespeare I heard something about being awakened by the secret police at four in the morning, and how awful this idea was.
Soon I have to face the music of another day, go to the store and see who tried to call me on the phone. It’s a merciless world but thank goodness for our poets.
Quarter of eight.
This morning is overcast and kind of ugly, though things are going rather well so far today. My conscience prods me regarding church; I suppose I’d better show up on Sunday and try to be a good Lutheran. I awoke in the middle of the night with a vision of the album cover to Jaco’s Word of Mouth. It shows the progress of the sun across the sky in broken up frames to suggest the relativity of perception. I hadn’t thought about relativism in a long time, but I encounter epistemic problems frequently with my family. Getting to the bottom of a story is nearly impossible when you have nothing to go by except reports and hearsay. I get so I despair of ever learning the truth. Still, I have faith that the truth exists if we can eliminate all the lies and coloring of the facts that people add to reality. Of course I could be wrong, and there is no truth outside of human creativity. It just seems kind of wishy washy to have that belief. And my intuition is usually pretty on the money. I’m certainly very tired of family dynamics. I feel upset after every conversation with my sister…
There’s no denying that my dog is hungry for his breakfast right now. It is an indisputable fact, and I can witness it firsthand.
Ten thirty five at night.
I had a good day in spite of the heat. I got some reading done in Native Son, so now only 55 pages to go. It’s hard to put a finger on what I think tonight or how I feel. At a deeper level, the different threads of my thought must be unified somehow. One idea I’ve had is that the truth is a mirage: the closer you get to it, the more it fades away. Is the life force a miracle or just a godless accident? I’m still fascinated with the notion of Urschleim, the primordial mud of life discovered by Thomas Huxley, which he then admitted was a mistake. Some people believe that life exists apart from lifeless matter, sort of like a ghost in the machine of nature. But it’s this kind of inquiry that is fruitless and a mirage, a protean shapeshifter impossible to get your hands on. I suppose that true knowledge is having no knowledge in a rational way. And this is like something I read about Zen a long time ago, and even that is elusive to me. What I do know is that I saw the sun go down and the full moon rise in the east this evening, orchestrated like the music of the spheres.
Seven thirty five.
My jeans are still damp from my morning walk. Other than that I have no complaints, and it seems to me that everything is going well with the world. But this is easier to say when I ignore the news.
I dreamed last night that I was out after dark, walking along Fremont Avenue when I spotted a helicopter right overhead. As I neared my home, I realized with a jolt that the chopper was landing on my street, so I hurried inside and around to the family room. But I could hear the men following me outside to the backyard, and then I believed they would kill me. Throughout the action, the helicopter made a boisterous racket out front, fed in reality by the hum of my alarm clock. It was one of my paranoid dreams, which I have seldom anymore. Very clear and fresh like a hallucination: larger than life.
Real life, however, has been uneventful, routine, and rather boring. I prefer this to chaos and extremity, like when the Trumpsters attempted a coup of Washington two winters ago. The world is screwed up when people can’t tell the difference between truth and lies. I guess we believe what we want to believe, no matter what is really true. I blame it on the revival of Jamesian Pragmatism that started up during the 00 decade. We judge beliefs by their consequences, not rationally or factually. At least some of us care what is logical…
Quarter of eight.
Gloria is coming today at nine, but lately I’ve been feeling tired every day, so I’m not really looking forward to this. I don’t know of anyone who is actually clicking their heels these days. It’d be nice to believe in astrology, particularly the coming around of Jupiter to bring jollity. I wonder if it’s possible to conquer happiness as Bertrand Russell suggests? But it seems to be more like sunrise, sunset day after day. In this case we ought to appreciate the minutiae while they are still available to us. Dust off the Thornton Wilder book… The trip to market was pretty boring today. It’s Saturday, so the espresso shack wasn’t doing very well this morning. Lisa is always nice to me. My sense of things being larger than life is dwindling down to ordinariness. I realize that I’ll probably never be a rockstar, especially at my age. Even the local rockstars made it big one time, then spent all their money and faded back to relative obscurity. How do you get to be an icon in our culture? You have to be in the right place at the right time. It is best to set realistic goals, if you must have goals at all. And dust off the Thornton Wilder book.
I feel tired and dizzy, probably from the Lipitor I take for cholesterol. My dog was amazingly good while Gloria was here. I was just thinking about the place of pleasure in human life, and whether it is the highest good, or if instead some people have it backwards. The work ethic is strong in some people. Others may be indolent epicureans, maybe alcoholics, and maybe they’d be smart to enjoy life. I always wonder what I am to do in the wake of addiction. Only time can sort this out. Nothing is very clear in the meantime. We just do the best that we can.
I’ve been thinking about church and Easter, etc and how lonely I feel lately, like a kind of outsider from the human race. Until yesterday I didn’t realize that I miss my friends in church. And yet I see that there are so many ways of dividing people against each other; by their politics, religion, and other personal beliefs. I feel pulled in different directions at once, and the fact of being sober seems to make it more difficult. I know however that drinking is even more problematic than staying sober. It’s very hard to be a highly sensitive and perceptive individual, seeing all these conflicts and contradictions, the sheer confusion of everything. How to make it all compatible with itself; how to unify it all in harmony and peace? And then I remember the writings of Montaigne, who let the contradictions dangle unresolved. They could be allowed to coexist. I knew a friend in reality whose approach was very similar: she hated conflict and any kind of extremism. Her father and her oldest sister got into the worst fights with each other, starting with a disagreement and ending in violence. Thus, maybe my logic is overrated, my tendency towards black and white judgments, trying to nail everything down like Aristotle or another philosopher. Maybe better to say that’s life and let the loose ends stay that way.
I haven’t read very much Montaigne. I ought to look into it. I think that something about my method is not working very well, and Pastor was right about leaving things gray in order to have more friends and get along with more people. The relentless quest for the truth can be quite limiting for your social life. The truth may well be that there is no truth.
Six o’clock in the morning.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. I thought about how my mentality changed after my first girlfriend, when I loaded up my plate with philosophy courses in school to build up a rational defense from my feelings. But I’m getting tired of this analysis.
My trip to the market was uneventful and nondescript. The sun is coming up very slowly, or perhaps I made my excursion way earlier than usual. I heard a lot of birds and spotted a pair of Canada geese on the wing. I don’t miss the church much, though I still think of it sometimes. It seems to me like a ship of fools, and Pastor is power hungry with his parish. The outbreak of Covid gave him an opportunity to seize control of everybody, even telling them to get vaccinated and boosted. His sermons are mere brainwashing, like a mass hypnosis for the unwary… I grew to resent all of that and finally shook the crap off of me. There are many roads to recovery. It might be one that you devise for yourself.
Eight o’clock. I remember when V— used to do mornings at the store. She was rather uncivil to some customers, citing her right to free speech. She spared me this abuse for some reason. V— was a sassy little blond and a hard nut to crack, but she opened up to me a few times. She would say she’d get married again if she wanted to be lied to, and she valued honesty from people.
There’s been a fine mist of rain this morning, so I took an umbrella to the store. They were out of Snapple tea; I bought a Dr Pepper instead. I seemed to see green everywhere on my way, like a symbol that follows me around. I think it means nature and pure life as opposed to the dead language of old traditions, also ubiquitous but unpromising, unless the god you believe in is not sandwiched in a book. If there must be a bible, perhaps a person can use Leaves of Grass, something roomier than the other options. My umbrella is black, but during school I had a green and yellow Duck umbrella, lost in the fire three years ago.
The essence is happiness, I always remind myself. Though I have no complaints, neither am I jumping for joy. What happened to the fun I used to have? There’s always something to screw up any utopia, so the best we can do is make the most of every minute.
Were the good times with alcohol really fun for me or was it all just an illusion of joy? My experience with drinking was a relationship, a romance or an old friendship, and everyone else was second to the booze. Before the pandemic came, I enjoyed church, and now those are the good old days. Maybe I overindulged in using my brain for a long period, because today I’m burned out on intellectual pursuits and only want to feel what is true for me. But it’s hard to tell between emotional truth and rational defense. First thing this morning I felt pretty good. Right now the sun is shining and won’t set for another four hours. It could be a very pretty afternoon and evening.