Faire Plaisir!

Quarter after seven.

It’s going to be very warm later today and the sky is cloudless this morning. I hear the sparrows in a frenzy just outside my door. The maple in my front yard has been budding new leaves for a week now; you can see the green deepening with time. I will go anon to the market around the corner on Maxwell Road. I sometimes wish the zodiac was true, to help us along and guide us to our destinies. And the idea of fate in Greek tragedy still fills me with awe. I had a therapist who tried a reverse Dr Moreau with me; tried to turn me into an animal with no defenses: not even reason. I don’t know what she hoped to achieve, but I terminated sessions and went somewhere else. Frankly I don’t think she knew what she was doing. It was a tough time, yet when is not a tough time? I remind myself to endure; to grin and bear it like a stoic. The frustrating thing is knowing that humans could do a lot better towards the general happiness.

Mm, mm, I’m telling you now

The greatest thing you ever can do now

Is treat a smile to someone who’s blue now

It’s really easy


Vibes 2

Ten twenty five at night.

I wrote just now that a lot of conservatism is a reversal of utility. If I can’t be happy, then I’ll make sure that nobody is happy. And if I’m miserable, the whole world will share my misery. It’s a denial of happiness to others. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Also a lot of conservatism is born of ignorance and incomprehension, and the fear of what you don’t understand. The result of all this is frustration for everyone involved in the picture, beginning with the ones who say you can’t do this or have that. Come to think of it, both parties try to piss on each other’s fun.

I get weird vibes still from the neighbors on my street, and I wonder where their attitudes are tending. The situation feels tense, and I don’t have to do anything to draw their fire. My existence alone is incendiary enough.

Monster Cookie

Nine o’clock.

I’m cutting back on caffeine because I had a bad reaction to it recently. So today I bought just one Snapple tea. It’s funny how substance abuse can run away with you if you’re not paying attention. Too much of anything is toxic. Leaving the store this morning, I walked past a van for Monster Cookie Company and I asked myself if they still had the same location on Fifth Street downtown. I’m the kind of person that dwells on the past a lot. I often recall happy times with my parents and a few friends, and by comparison, the times today seem rather empty and insignificant to me. I am thankful only for a few things. It was interesting last Saturday to go to the vet with my dog and be reminded of ten years ago and Aesop’s puppyhood. He has turned out to be such a great dog!

Nine forty.

The mail just brought my book, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, a little green Loeb classic. Reading the introduction should be fun.

If church was about just socialization, then I might be interested in going again. But instead, there’s the element of indoctrination that I can’t accept. And honestly, I don’t care for moralism. People ought to help each other to their joys and happiness rather than carp at their faults. I’m not interested in “being a better person.” I believe the world is right when everyone is happy.

Santa Claus

Quarter of nine.

I’m done filling another journal with stream of consciousness thoughts. Reviewing it, I see a few thematic threads that repeat. One of them is my refusal to condemn my parents for their lifestyle of moderate alcoholism and belief in utilitarianism. I don’t think it’s right to denounce anyone for committing sins that you wouldn’t do. It was maybe two years ago when a peer from church disparaged thoughtless hedonism to me over coffee. Now I ponder what is so “thoughtless” about it. But his attitude affected me deeply for quite a while, so that I wanted to come to my parents’ defense… There was a service for Christmas last night but I decided not to go. I had my own sort of Santa Claus Christmas with my dog and we were happy enough. From around eleven yesterday morning it rained all day and night. Today the ground is still wet and it’s rather warm out. While I was at the store, Kathy walked in to say hi to Thomas, who was glad to have a slow day. Outdoors I saw a few people and we all greeted each other on this holiday. I didn’t miss anything last night. Everyone likes Santa Claus.

First Mover

Seven forty AM.

I just canceled with the veterinarian for Aesop. The receptionist was a little bitchy about it but I did what I needed to do. And now the day is more or less free, though I have Gloria at ten o’clock. It’s a foggy morning and I’ve been to the market already. I was only half awake when I made the trip. Lisa told me that Jeremiah had quit. I hadn’t met him, but apparently he worked the night shifts. The staff consists of maybe five people now. I wonder why keeping employees is difficult these days? But I might as well ask why I didn’t take Aesop to the vet today. Who is John Galt? What motivates the world? Maybe it isn’t capitalistic greed after all. If people are apathetic, there must be something else going on. We’ve gone off the rails since Covid came. I used to go to church before the pandemic and everyone seemed happy. Whereas nobody is ecstatic today. We take our material playthings and mess around, but we don’t have fun anymore.

I was a lonely teenage broncing buck

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck

But I knew that I was out of luck

The day the music died

I think happiness itself makes the world go round, so somebody has to break the spell and spread a little joy. Without music and fun, it’s all for nothing.

Pioneers: A Letter

Since I met with Cassidy at the Black Rock this afternoon I started thinking about my behavior towards people, especially those like Grant, Cassidy, and even Damien. In response to people I feel irritation and impatience, when I should try to be kind to them. I wrote down in my little diary that times are tough for everyone, and though I feel the pressure, my grace is scarce. Weeks ago I made a post with the egg in a vise, an image I borrowed from an old Rush album called Grace under Pressure. But anyway, probably these tough times are no excuse to act like a jerk. I’ll try to be mindful of this when I deal with everyone from now on. I wonder why it’s so easy to forget it? We forget that we’re all in the same big boat together, or at least I do.
The big full moon is just now rising in the east out of my window. I’d also be making an excuse if I said that the moon is responsible for human madness. I think the truth is that all people are ultimately responsible for themselves, and yet we’re all trying to promote happiness for each other as well. This is utilitarian thinking, the greatest happiness principle. I don’t know what it’s called when people violate this ethical code except it’s a form of injustice. A few lines from Sting with The Police:
It’s a subject we rarely mention
But why do we have this little invention?
By pretending they’re a different world from me
I show my responsibility
Lines are drawn upon the world
Before we get our flags unfurled
But whichever one we pick
Is just a self deluding trick
One world is enough for all of us…
I’m not sure if I’m seeing the man in the moon as I gaze upon it right now. I heard a neighbor say he believes the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese. And though I disagree with him, the fact remains that he is my neighbor. People are all in this together, however we may chafe against it. I guess the main dissident is myself. Does one individual ever possess the right to influence the world? To change it according to her own vision?
Now I do see a face in the moon…


Six thirty.

I see a lot of ugliness in the world and very little beauty since this year began. I don’t presume to understand why that is, but people ought to be able to fix it anyway just by making beautiful things. Above the human form there’s nothing more beautiful and perfect, but it’s because we degrade it that we’ve lost our touch. Human beings are not animal and ugly, so why do we despair and deny each other the love and beauty we’re capable of?… The sun is about to clear the rooftops across the street from my house and I see blue sky this morning. I think it’s a two Snapple day today. Aesop is in one of his moods since yesterday, but because he can’t talk, it’s indecipherable to me. I’ve got no plans for today but to make a trip for the daily groceries and to wait for Damien to come and do yard work around midday. With heaven and hell at our disposal, we give a lot more of the second to one another than the first. And this to me is the greatest mystery of human existence. 

Utility Again

Wee hours.

Since talking with Polly yesterday morning I’ve felt rather confused. According to her, some Christians believe that we’ve already seen the Antichrist, and a lot of other biblical prophecies are coming true. I don’t know what to do with this information. Maybe the safe thing is to file it away and not totally dispose of it. The leap to metaphysics is very hard for me to accept because it defies logic. A neighbor once opined to me that people with schizophrenia are possessed by the devil, and my reaction was to think how ignorant he was, and how mean and insensitive. If everyone believed his way, we schizophrenic people would still be chained in dungeons as in the Dark Ages. Think now: is that any way to treat a human being? This neighbor was a Catholic and a complete dunce, and I was thankful when his family moved away. I don’t know how to feel about religion, except I’ve seen how it can marginalize certain people, even force them into ghettos. It depends on the extremity of the belief.

I think the common denominator ought to be our humanity. The philosophy that makes the most sense to me is utilitarianism, the greatest happiness principle of John Stuart Mill. We should minimize pain for each other and maximize happiness, and all other issues are on the side. 

The Happiness Crux

I’ve been dreaming that I was reading and making margin notes in Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus, trying to resolve the contradiction between Pastor’s definition of happiness and my own. Now I don’t remember how my argument went, but subconsciously it made perfect sense. In reality I’ve never read the essays of Camus, but I know how popular they are. As I begin to think consciously, there’s a passage in my ethics textbook that discusses egoism versus altruism, and then a third alternative Robert C. Solomon refers to as prudence. This is using your own judgment in different situations and acting selfishly or unselfishly depending on what is needed… For some reason this clash of theology and philosophy is important to me. I should take another look at Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill as well, because as I recall, he resolves the problem already… To explain, Pastor believes that happiness is a collective thing, and not so much the pursuit of personal pleasure. But what I learned in school emphasizes the rights of the individual, just the opposite of what Pastor preaches. This opposition forms the crux of our differences, and it pulls my brain apart trying to fix it. But I think I’ll still come away from the problem an individualist. I began to feel strongly this way as a junior in high school when we studied The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I guess I felt that way because I was a loner and a nerd throughout my high school experience. The cliquish nature of school prior to college did a lot of damage to misfits like me, and I wasn’t the only one. And looking around me today, maybe I’m not really cut out for church.

A Coke and a Smile

Quarter after ten.

The possum under the house made a big racket early this morning. I missed some sleep because of it. At dawn, I slept in until nine thirty and then fed the dog. My walk to the store was rather difficult. I just felt tired and defeatist. What was the use? So I bought a two liter of Coke to pick myself up. I feel a little bit better now. Sometime between noon and four o’clock today, Damien is coming, so that’s something to look forward to. I wonder now if the key to human happiness might consist in generous acts. I should visit the salon more often than I do. Even if I feel awkward when I go there, still I ought to do it just because it gives someone pleasure. The Vraylar tends to put my thinking in Enlightenment mode, but as Wallace Stevens says, “It is not the reason that makes us happy or unhappy.” Perhaps all the knowledge in the world wouldn’t conduce to joy. Think of Odin, who possessed perfect wisdom, but for whom this was a woeful burden. The Father of the Gods was melancholy because he foresaw their own demise… Yet a little generosity and kindness can go a long way. And it takes my mind off of myself. Let us all share a Coke and a smile, on me.