Eleven thirty. It’s nice when I get likes from European readers. There aren’t enough of them. Kate, as I recall, was very literal and realistic, and she disliked extremism in any form. She was not religious or even Romantic. She thought I was crazy when I joined the church and the American way, which I can understand now. I really miss her and her sophistication, so different from my own country. It was this foreignness that attracted me to her. It seemed like a healthy way out of my illness. The problem was that I couldn’t stop drinking all during that time. Today I’m just kind of in suspense to see what happens next. Everybody is. The light of the sun is bright again like yesterday. Is psychology an overrated science? Sometimes I could do without it. I think it’s an American concern, more so than across the Atlantic, from what I’ve experienced.
Quarter after two. The sunshine goes on, with the sky mingled blue and wisps of white. There’s a tree frog screeching in my front yard, but otherwise it’s quiet as a deserted church. Only one other sound: an air conditioning unit next door or somewhere close by. Seems odd for January. Now a prop plane overhead. I just finished playing my Dean bass for today. Saturday afternoon I’m taking my blue Fender to practice again. It’s my favorite instrument and my main axe. It feels unreal that I don’t drink anymore. Certainly if I did, I couldn’t do music with other people, and my life would be useless even to me. Drinking beer is extremely expensive and it takes a huge toll on your quality of life. I still have dreams about alcohol at night sometimes, usually connected with my mother and my brother. My brother is still alive, yet I doubt if I’ll ever see him again. He seems to think that you can’t have a good time without alcohol. Even if he called me one day, I’d probably have to keep him at arm’s length. We’re not in the same situation together, and we have nothing in common anymore. I used to crave his approval so desperately, but now I don’t see why. I used to need my sister’s approval too, but since being sober for three years, family is expendable. I’ve discovered that I can think for myself and solve my own problems without depending on other people. I’m not anybody’s perfect poster boy, but still I hold my own… Sunlight filters through the kitchen window and shadows glow a little green. Except for a bit of a hum outside, the room is silent. I like myself.
The only improvement on Ulysses I can think of is to make Poldy Bloom a Black man rather than a Jew; and yet Jews have had to live in ghettos in history as well as Blacks and Hispanics. I’m thinking aloud about the crucial problems facing the United States today. There’s a great deal of resentment by the uneducated for the educated, which could be solved by making university tuition free for everyone who wants to go. I don’t know how to implement this plan, but Scotland has already done it. We could take a clue from their example, if we were willing to convert to a benign socialist system and give up our broken capitalist American Dream. Some dreams need to be awakened from, and last Wednesday was our wake up call. Instead of the American Dream, we need to dream globally for the sake of our future. The time has come to take idealism seriously rather than cling to economic survival and the delusion of a prosperity that doesn’t exist. People need to become more philosophical and curious about more than their percentage. If we can overcome greed, we can learn to get along with each other through free education in a free and equal society.
Two thirty five in the morning.
I couldn’t sleep any longer, so I got up. It seemed to me that the Eugene population is being thinned of Mexican people, so I did a little research with Google. I learned about an agency called ICE, a division of Homeland Security. But most of the articles I found were from last year. Who knows what’s happening right now? I only know that I don’t see many Mexican people locally anymore. They used to be very visible. One of them overcharged me to do my yard work all through the Obama presidency. The alternative was to hire a white guy who charged even more, and who insisted on a contract that would last a year… I don’t know what to think about the current isolationist attitude of the United States. We don’t want anything to do with the rest of the world. It’s a formula for stagnation and cultural poverty. Republicans don’t perceive it that way, caring only about money— a huge mistake. My life was a lot richer when I had a friend from abroad. She introduced me to Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry— the whole ‘70s glam genre in the UK. John Wetton played bass guitar brilliantly on Ferry’s solo album. Was it only a dream? A lot can happen in eight to ten years. The trend I see is the social withdrawal of America, so how can we really understand what it means to be fully human? We can learn a lesson from the life and writings of Henry James, the American expatriate who enriched literature forever. And from The Beatles and the British Invasion of the ‘60s, and again from New Wave in the ‘80s… The same sun shines on the rest of the world as on America. It makes no sense to put up walls.
Quarter after five. Thomas Mann assumes that sickness has moral underpinnings. I’ve always struggled with that opinion, but there’s such a consensus that agrees with him. What we don’t understand we treat with religion. I’m not even sure how to define mental illness anymore, having heard so many perspectives, and none of them superior to another. When was the last time I heard the DSM5 referred to? At least in America, talk therapy has monopolized the field of behavioral health. I never hear anything about psychiatry anymore, maybe because mental illness is too expensive for society to afford. While this is going on, people with schizophrenia and bipolar still self medicate with illicit drugs on the street. Some of them even refuse medication, and we tell them that’s okay. Honestly, I haven’t spoken with another person who has schizophrenia in many months. It’s as though they were running around undiagnosed and unmedicated. Mental illness has become a big gray area, and all because we’ve done away with psychiatry and diagnostic labels. Or is this only my own experience in the past three years? What do we do with our severely mentally ill people these days? Where have they gone? Why don’t I see them anymore? Perhaps they’re all homeless and sleeping under the Washington Jefferson Street Bridge? They seem to have been assimilated into the mainstream, their symptoms ignored and untreated. Is this a good thing or a terrible miscarriage of justice? I only think of the suffering of people with psychosis who don’t get the relief they deserve. There’s something wrong with this picture. But of course, I would have to see some statistics on recovery rates to really know what is happening…
It is a time of contrariety
And even if you hold still like a tree,
Opposing tempests whip and scar your skin,
A hell and heaven smite you on the chin,
At war with one another and with you
If you display a color red or blue.
I often ponder on pedestrian tours
If I could quell the striving with a Coors
And thereby make the nation go away;
Yet anesthesia lasts for but a day
And then continued numbing would depend
On how far I could make my money spend.
In just another month the vote is done,
So maybe then again we’ll have some fun.
Ten thirty five. There are still a lot of xenophobic people in the world. They can’t be reasoned with. If it’s different from us, then it must be bad. We drink coffee and they drink tea. We have football, they have soccer. They drive on the left side of the road. They’re on the metric system. But our way is always better, just because. It’s a very egocentric way of looking at the world. If I could singlehandedly bridge the Atlantic and open communication again, I certainly would. But it will take more than just one person’s efforts. It’s all very wearisome and depressing. Maybe someday people will read my posts and say that I was right all along. We really are better together than isolated. The world is a big place, much bigger than we think. We need to think globally again and work together to save humankind. It’s not just foolish idealism anymore, but a real necessity. I hope to see some positive changes in my lifetime. I had a dream last night that the election was already over with. Can you guess who won?
Quarter of eleven. I’m beginning to have faith that common sense will triumph in the world, or at least it will in my life, even if I have to emigrate to Canada or something. Americans, my fellow citizens, are mostly gutted with the unreason of Jesus and the delusion of the supernatural. I daresay America is the next Atlantis, this sinking continent drowning in the deluge of superstition and absurd politics. How can we call ourselves great when other countries shrug and shake their heads at our stupidity?
The really sad thing is that America has produced some of the most brilliant works of art and culture, but we kick them around like the useless gems on the streets of El Dorado in Candide. I was fortunate enough to get a great education from the State of Oregon, one that gave me a broader perspective on the world. And, to America’s credit, when I was a student I was assigned to read A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen three times. Now it seems to me that other countries benefit more from American genius than we do ourselves. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy and the latest pharmaceutical discoveries are all but unobtainable here, while we ship them abroad to the great behoof of more intelligent countries.
But all I really know is my personal experience of this nation. The most compelling writing I can do is to keep reporting my daily life to my followers and hope it will educate them. And for my part I hope to have a fulfilling life in spite of every obstacle in my way. Is that selfish? I don’t think so, because the writing I do, honest and true, is doing you a service.
Quarter of nine.
Rain today, but it’s light, not torrential. Already been to the market and bought canned food for Aesop. I took my black umbrella and my American flag shopping bag. I strode off to the beat of Thomas Dolby’s “Hot Sauce” in my brain. Nobody else was around on my way there. I observed nothing unusual. Just a typical morning in the “new normal.” Insipid and blah, but it’s better than eventful in a bad way. As I was opening my umbrella, I thought of how inanimate matter is our friend, the way it conforms to immutable laws. When you put something down, it will stay where you left it. Now I conceive of how Oppenheimer interfered with nature, releasing all this radioactive energy. Where did that place human beings in the food chain? Was it a heroic discovery, like Franklin flying a kite in an electrical storm? It was much graver since it was used as a weapon. I like to believe that America is the brainchild of the Enlightenment, exactly like Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity or Jefferson writing the Constitution. In this spirit, the nearly deaf Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. The Tricentennial 2076 is still a long way off, but it’s not too soon to speculate on what a 300 year old America wants to be. How far away have we wandered from our original ideals and intentions? How far are we from realizing our goals? How long until “all the colors bleed into one,” as in the old U2 song?
Seven o five. The weather suggests that it will be mixed again today. Mostly cloudy. Typical June. Everything is gray and green outside, with a bar of pale yellow. The shadows of the clouds are lavender and gray. And people are all colors and none. Does the idea of racial equality even need vindication? Unfortunately, some people think so, when this truth ought to be self evident.
Eight thirty five. Aesop gets peanut butter treats today… America has been going in reverse for too long. We need to open our doors to the world again, but instead, people are closing them even more. What is COVID to us but an excuse to isolate ourselves from the world and perpetuate MAGA? Do we really prefer The Monkees to The Beatles? Or Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello? My sister used to talk as if the Revolutionary War were still being waged against England. Hello! What we need over here is another British Invasion, another New Wave. Terry Bozzio of the LA band Missing Persons first played drums with prog project U.K. It featured John Wetton on bass and Eddie Jobson on keyboards. This happened in 1979, and Bozzio brought the British scene back with him to the USA. The Police was another cosmopolitan band from the same time period. We did it before, and we can do it again.
Sensuality and indolence are the culprits in Emerson’s early writing. He considered three careers, one being minister. He admits to lacking system and detail in his thinking. He is less philosopher in the Western way than Sophist, a rhetorician— and he knows it. In some ways E is proud, yet humble and realistic regarding his shortcomings. He wants to preach at people, yet recognizes his own frailty. All this at age twenty one, in 1824. He tends toward abstract imagination, toward generalizations, and away from logic and method. But he’s great at what he does. When he’s on fire, his rhetoric soars with the best poetry. He would’ve been a good preacher, but he didn’t subscribe wholeheartedly to the teachings of the Church. In this he was honest with himself and others. So, he broke away and plowed his own road, independent and original. He became the key voice for the movement called Transcendentalism in 19th Century America. He sought conferences with Abraham Lincoln and twisted his arm about abolition. Slavery was an absolute and repugnant atrocity. There was no excuse for it. On other occasions, Lincoln, after hearing Emerson speak publicly, admitted to not understanding a word. But something at least might have sunk in. And as I write, I recognize in the story hints of what passed between me and my ethnocentric family. They never had an excuse either, but I think it would take an act of God to change their minds. Therefore, like Emerson I keep hoeing my row to the unknown…