Quarter of nine.
Having a hard time collecting my thoughts. I took a nap after eating something and, in a fitful sleep, had erotic dreams and old forgotten feelings of women’s bodies mingled with my mother and alcohol use. Then I awoke with an ache in my right side and after a minute I pronounced to myself that I’d been through hell ever since I quit drinking: and I wanted to know why. The only real improvement for me is my financial situation, but the sociological aspect of my existence gets worse and worse. So, like Blake, I will not cease from mental fight until my writing brings about a desirable change: so that people actually love one another again in the fullest and most intimate sense of love. Maybe then we can leave behind all this crazy machinery and go on holiday. Our obsession with numbers and technology has spelled our doom from the start, crowding out nature in ourselves and in the outside world. This impulse to industry proves to be our undoing, while the greed for it still grows. We think the more gadgets, the better, but we’ve lost our respect for humanity and everything natural and noble in this life. And the faster we go, the faster we’ll all be gone.
Tyranny is when an inferior part of the soul dominates the rational part, and this is injustice according to Plato. But it’s more difficult than that, because the problem could be with reason itself. The intellect runs amok like a huge mechanical brain that doesn’t know when to stop producing. What would happen if we pulled the plug on this gigantic brain? Life would go on as before, but maybe with a bigger heart.
I saw the sun as I walked outside, a big crimson coin in the gray east. Masks are required again at the store as of yesterday. They posted two signs in the glass of the door. I got my new book of Keats in the mail today, making a stark contrast to the dirty reality of the neighborhood streets I am prisoner of. I’m considering going to Barnes & Noble someday soon to hang out for an hour and try to meet some people. A much more refreshing atmosphere than psychiatric rehab or church, replete with the scent of new books and new ideas. It would be an oasis in the intellectual desert everywhere else, at least I hope. All I can find around here are the butt ends and debris of Christianity, the dust of the sidewalk. The world is ready for something better than the old trash— or is everything recycled and repeated endlessly?… The air outside is amber or umber, a glowing orange like the atmosphere of Mars. People don’t notice it much, or they don’t say anything. And now it’s time to feed my dog.
Quarter of nine. I opened the mailer with the book inside: a little shopworn, from the printing of 2003. The book is not immaculate, but the verse it contains is. I don’t know; maybe I’m just a fool for trying to transcend a world of ashes and old Snapple bottles. Can the old be young again? What was it that Ponce de Leon was looking for? It seems to me that the whole world needs rebirth and renewal; a reveille… a Renaissance.
I got in touch with my sister at last. Sure enough, my fantasies had all been bogus and everything was fine. Ed has recovered from Covid and is returning to work tomorrow…
It’s a beautiful morning, actually, and the Nietzsche book sounds enticing. Earlier, when I passed the house of Kat and Corey, the for sale sign I’d seen yesterday was gone as if by magic or the action of little elves during the night. So I began to mistrust my senses: maybe the sign had never been there and I just hallucinated it? Perhaps I was deceived by a trickster or evil genius? Greater people than I have doubted their sanity when working on a discovery; Descartes and Emerson, for instance. But now I’m inclined to believe the sign was real and my senses were reliable. Reality and the doubts about it are strange things. When reality dissolves and delusions take over, the experience is just like a dream, powered by strong desires and wishes for what ought to be real. But actual existence falls short of the ideal that some people crave. It’s much like reading the second part of Faust, full of the fulfillment of wishes as money growing on trees, your heart’s desire being within your grasp. Is this feeling truly madness, especially if many people share the same ideal? It is a nowhere utopia in which everything is perfectly right and good. If we could only externalize the dream of a perfect paradise, then certainly we’d have it made; until the Jaques figure messed it up, saying, “Yeah right.”
Four thirty. Because I skipped my medication last night, I was unwell this morning. There were some classic symptoms of schizophrenia exhibited in my writing. In addition to this, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. The point where things got worse was Saturday morning when I talked with my sister. But the fact still remains that people are not getting along with each other over silly things. We need to learn to mind our own business and to live and let live. Other people’s sexual decisions have nothing to do with me, so I have nothing to say about it…
“The fortunes of fables are able / To sing the song…” As I was waking up, this old tune by CSNY swam to my consciousness, so I asked myself why what worked for the hippies doesn’t work for us today. I once had a girlfriend my age, a Lutheran who was born during the time of the Flower Children. She was a very interesting person, but we eventually broke up over the issue of religion. It seemed to me that I could be anything but a Christian. I leaned towards Emerson and maybe even a little Plato. It would have been very hard to forgive Leviticus for its message of hate toward gays and witches— if we must take scripture literally. And the same goes for Plato’s attitude of eugenics and elitism. In the end, there is no perfect religion or philosophy to guide our lives by, except perhaps a philosophy of freedom, happiness, and love. The attempt to establish any Constitution that prescribes the well-being for us all will always fail, so the book must never be sealed and made into a dogma. John the Divine closes Revelation by adding a curse to anyone who amends his vision, thus locking up the Bible with a key. But I think Emerson is right that life is in a state of constant flow and change, and cannot be confined within the covers of any book.
Quarter of seven.
The first thing I noticed upon waking up was the peach moon out of my bedroom window. I called my dog’s attention to it, but he was oblivious. Yesterday at dusk, the eastern sky was gray as if with clouds. The afternoon overstimulated my senses so that I had to go to bed a few hours. What I enjoyed most about the day was my phone conversation with Heidi, more of a friend than a peer support. After that I tried to write in my blank book, but my mind was blanker than the book. The day was so yellow that it seemed to scramble my poor brain. Today there’s a prescription I should pick up at Bi Mart when it warms up a bit. I try to assess the spirit of the current times and I only find that people aren’t sleeping well lately. Generally, I observe that some friends are getting farther away while others are getting closer to me with the passing of time. These things happen to you just because you exist in the world and you use your brain to make decisions and navigate through life. It’s sort of like scissors through construction paper: there’s what you use and there’s also the waste. I just wish everyone could be happy, if only for a day. One day of perfect bliss, a heaven on earth for the whole world. Maybe this would be enough to redeem us so we could begin again.
Four thirty in the morning.
I got up because I couldn’t sleep any longer. My attitudes in general are torn between the virtue of Emerson and the fatalistic sexual theory of Freud. I gave up on Platonic idealism, choosing instead the realism of Aristotle. But maybe it’s better to get away from intellectual traditions for a while and start with how I feel. Six hours ago I was feeling frustrated at the uncertainty of our human future. I even considered defecting from this ride everyone is on, taking a girlfriend with me to a desert island, and starting the human race over again from scratch. It would be an Adam and Eve experiment. Yet as Hawthorne observed, the first things needed for any utopia are a prison and a cemetery. This means that original sin is for real. And in the Golding novel, the perfect society pictured by Ralph on their little island is messed up when Jack shows up with the other choirboys… I guess everything has already been thought of. No utopia is really feasible, and yet life as it is leaves so much to be desired. Probably all of us want to start up their own society with its own set of values. The fact is that we don’t all agree on everything, so people have to make some sacrifices to get along… So what is my mood right now? I anticipate the dawn, after which I can go see Michelle at the store like I do every weekday morning. Though our ideas are different, we are reassured by the sight of one another. The only utopia is possible where a person clones himself. And then there would be perfect peace and accord…
Gloaming of early morning outside my window. I feel rather good. Yesterday afternoon was a success for me, in that I got my point across to the other guys. I played my bass quite well, too. It probably sounded better to them than it did to me. The solo I took on “Bubble House” sucked. It was in G7, which is harder for me to solo over. But I really burned on “The Mincer,” in A7. If anything, I played too many notes… Aesop needs wet food again, and the store has just opened. At around eight o’clock I’ll go run my errand… I remember nearly crying (for the right reasons) when “Tom Sawyer” came on the PA in a certain waiting room. Rush did their songs with so much more intelligence than garden variety bands; with quality and taste, finesse and beauty. The other guys in my band aren’t very familiar with Rush, so I think I’ll make converts of them.
Seven thirty. I hear a birdsong outside my back door. The weather yesterday was insanely beautiful. Everybody got out of the house to do various activities.
Eight thirty. Melissa had a cold, but she sounds better today than yesterday morning. Camped across Maxwell Road from the store I saw a homeless man who kept himself company by talking to himself. It really annoys me when people say that homeless people choose to live that way, out of laziness or whatever. It’s the system that failed them, not the other way around. My park ranger nephew has some backward opinions, but luckily I don’t have to be around him… Some people are born without an aptitude that fits neatly into the job market. I’m one of them. There are no gainful jobs that allow for creativity and self expression in music or writing. People like me have to figure out another way or else fall through the cracks. Ayn Rand believed that the capitalist system could be manipulated to serve anyone who worked hard enough. I have serious doubts about that. Robert Pirsig said it doesn’t matter what work you do as long as you do it with quality. Again, I beg to disagree. And once again, in a perfect world… I envision a New Renaissance, a time when people can be what they want to be. Why is it that so many of us have a similar dream, yet the dream gets trampled by those with no imagination?
I dreamed of a country,
Neither Europe nor Asia nor Africa,
Whose border on the physical map
Made the shape of a red butterfly,
And this formed the birthplace
For every human race.
So I half awoke,
Resolving to learn
The Analects of Confucius
In order to start over.
Five o’clock in the morning.
I just made an interesting connection between Plato and Jung. Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious may be similar to the Forms in the spirit world of Plato. Both are a kind of cookie cutter for our conscious reality. I’m still not a fan of Jung due to his racism and his general snobbery, preferring Emerson’s open minded attitude toward people and knowledge. Underneath it all lives a universal truth that every thinker has had a shot at identifying. They each have given it names and personal features, yet the secret continues to shift shapes like a great amorphous blob of prime matter… Speaking of this, I looked up hylomorphism on Wikipedia and recognized some concepts from Aristotle I’d learned at the university long ago. I’m just an amateur philosopher muddling my way, but the important point is to never stop learning.
Six o’clock. It is criminal how people have been priced out of higher education in the United States. But at the same time, most students who get to go to college can hardly wait to graduate and start making money. They don’t appreciate what they have while they’re there… And then again, maybe the university is not a physical place with a geographical location. Perhaps it is the spirit of the desire to know and be the perpetual student. Somewhere in the spiritual universe resides the University Ideal, and like the New Jerusalem, a day will come when its Form materializes on earth.
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.