The Age of Reason

Eleven ten at night.

The attitudes of old conservative people, particularly the ignorant ones, toward gay people really get on my nerves. And though I don’t say anything to them, it tunnels underground and wreaks havoc with my mental health. The Bible says, Be fruitful and multiply, so I guess that’s what they understand and try to impose on everyone else, but it’s truly none of their business how people live their personal lives. Actually, the Bible says a lot of unfortunate stuff, especially in the Old Testament, with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis and the long list of rules in Leviticus, that condemn gay people to death; and to make matters worse, some Christians say that “sexual immorality” in the New Testament refers to homosexuality in the Old Testament, linking the whole thing together.

If only I could be Voltaire and raise consciousness for people in our time: raise you to reason and tolerance of what you don’t understand. If I could make us all philosophers, then the world would be more harmonious. We can choose between the primordial ooze and the light of knowledge; between stubborn prejudices and a new understanding of humanity.

Yet it seems like a losing proposition even as I write this post. Republicans will always be the same, and Democrats also. I don’t see why we can’t dispense with the old and form a new constitution— a new religion. The world needs new stories, a new mythology to help it along. We don’t need dystopian fictions because we’re living a dystopian nightmare as it is.

I propose a utopia based on the powers of human reason. 

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Headphones

Six fifty at night.

I made it through Friday, at least till sundown. I lay in bed, half dreaming that I was writing a poem and playing my bass in Whitmanic style, something Civil War and romantic. It was a day of pain and stress, with a crowd of old feelings and memories flooding my mind at once. Likely the highlight today was fingerpicking my new jazz bass, playing songs I used to do with The Owls before my dad passed. The instrument sounds great and surely contributes to my nostalgia for the late Nineties. By dint of a magic spell I can thrum the past into the present day. My notes weave a web, a fabrication of old times that lasts as long as I keep it up. But alas that the music has to stop, the sounds decay away, and the gray prison of reality come back to dominate. Only if we make music together can it wholly transcend earthly existence and make heaven a real place. Instead, we each play different songs with the headphones on. When will we get it together again?

The Answer Is “Yes”

Quarter of one in the afternoon.

Yesterday I went across the street to ask Roger for his help with my bass guitar again, since we did a rather incomplete job the first time. He smiled and agreed to work with me tomorrow at ten o’clock. It’s sort of a symbolic truce to my mind. Though he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat, still we are civil to each other and achieve something together in the name of music, which shouldn’t have an ideology… The unseasonable rainy weather keeps on day after day, with showers that come and go. I suspect that when the sun shines again it’ll be like summer already, so there’s no hurry on that. Gloria was here and we did some tidying up around the house. In passing, she expressed her hope that the former president doesn’t run for office again, saying how rude he was and how insane— and she’s a Republican. A few lines from a Yes song come up. “A simple peace just can’t be found / Waste another day blasting all the lives away / I heard the thunder underground / Tunneling away at the very soul of man.” And later: “There, in the heart of millions / Seen as a godsend to us / There stands our future / There can be no denying / Simple as A B C D / There stand our children’s lives…” Is this too optimistic, or too utopian for people to grasp? Have we lost our faith in the power of poetry and song? It is said that two wrongs don’t make a right. When love is no longer the solution to our problems, then humanity is in deeper dudu than ever before. This demands that we go back to the drawing board and search not just our minds but our hearts. “It takes a loving heart to see and show / This love for our own ecology.”

Less than Perfect

Eight thirty.

I plan on a low key kind of day. I’ll try to sit still for reading a book today, a little later on. I know a lot of disgruntled Republicans, but I’m not one of them. So I wonder if I’m in the wrong place on this website. I always feel pulled in opposite directions by politics that don’t make sense to me. I understand the platforms very well, but I don’t really subscribe to either one. Something is wrong when the likes you receive depend on your readers’ politics… It has clouded up again and looks like rain. With the clouds, my spirit gets a bit depressed. Maybe I’m too sensitive. I feel like I was the only Democrat in the world; or maybe the Republicans are just more outspoken than people like me. The ones that shout the loudest usually get their way, not the ones with the best argument. Both sides tell the other to sit down and shut up when they are in charge. We’re just damned if we do and damned if we don’t, and it’s so unfair. Why can’t we abolish politics forever and present our faces unmasked? This system is one that none of us designed ourselves, yet we keep the pendulum swinging. Someday the pendulum is going to break. 

Harmony

Quarter after eleven at night.

“Light one candle to watch for Messiah / Let the light banish darkness…” My mind is a jumble even though the night is quiet and golden. The world has far to go to be anything like perfect. If only it were as easy as buying the world a Coke and teaching it to sing in harmony. Around here, I still don’t see very many people of color. I wonder if they are happy with the current social climate. I’d like to get a chance to talk with some of them about their feelings. Years ago a young Mexican guy told me about a rock band in Mexico called Los Tiranos del Norte, and he said they were very good. I imagine they were indeed, with a name like that. I was working as seasonal help at a music store in the Gateway Mall, where I met a variety of different people in public. Once I ran into a mother and her young son who were Greek, with a swarthy complexion that could be mistaken for something else, but now I know better about Mediterranean people.

I don’t know; everything just feels so incomplete and out of joint, especially for so-called minorities and those who don’t have anything. And all we can offer them are a flag to wave and a cross to bear. I get tired of listening to my sister’s conservative opinions, especially when she spouts about the homeless, as if they were to blame for their plight. Worse, as if they chose to live that way. I find her attitude very uncharitable and unkind. A perfect world is one where people can be what they want to be, where they can use their natural gifts to share with everyone. I fear that perfection will be a long time coming, though I hope for the Golden Age to be restored and all of humankind fulfilled. 

A Letter: Alcohol and Caffeine

Now I know more about what’s been bugging me lately. I don’t know why I started doing so much caffeine recently, but it’s having an impact on the way I think and feel and remember. I believe that everything we do boils down to brain chemistry, and ultimately everything is physical and material; it’s all constructed of atoms, basically. I could be wrong about that, but it’s my particular belief system. Nothing spiritual is necessary to explain natural events. Now the question is what made me buy the Coca-Cola in the first place. Today I got myself two Snapples, still too much caffeine, so tomorrow I’ll either skip it or just get one of them.

I guess I’m going to church this Sunday, though my feelings about it are mixed. I think I’d prefer not to sit through a sermon and take communion and all that stuff again. Maybe I’ll wait and see at the last minute whether I want to go.

Yesterday I flipped my blank book over and started writing going in the other direction on the left hand pages. Meanwhile I kind of wonder what interested me in Paul Bowles again; or even why I used to like his writing originally. I’ve changed since I first read him in February 98. And at the end of the same year I finished Moby Dick, the mood of which was very similar to the Bowles book: it was quite nihilistic and maybe sort of wicked like Macbeth. I don’t know how I feel about the unconscious from a Freudian point of view anymore, something dark with basic drives, but you can see it illustrated in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, like in “The Cask of Amontillado” and many others. And that reminds me: have you decided on your next purchase from Amazon yet?

It’s been drizzling here since about noon today, but it’s supposed to stop pretty soon, only to redouble itself for another week or so. Rain, rain, rain! But I have no complaints about it, and I actually like it. It promotes a state of mind for thinking and reflecting about abstract things.

Aesop has been in a sympathetic mood yesterday and today, probably sensing that I was feeling rather crappy since Monday afternoon. He is a very smart dog, and I think I care more about him than the dog I had before him, a little pug named Henry. The pug was more gregarious than Aesop, and everybody loved him. Henry was very sweet and cute as could be, and sometimes I miss having him around. But like a lot of things and people I used to know, he belongs to a past that can’t be revived. I may regret it all I want but in the end I will accept that the past is buried and irrecoverable.
But once in a while something happens to remind me…

At some level I wish I could get drunk and enjoy my life like I used to years ago. I thought I had my whole life ahead of me when I’d get a mile high. The future consequences don’t occur to you when you get wasted on alcohol or other drugs. And then you get a wake up call and realize that life is very short and you are not immortal. And you know then that alcoholism really is fatal.

Eduardo’s Piano

Four forty in the morning.

I got just about as much sleep as I could get. The rain has stopped for the next day or so. Yesterday morning I saw that there’s a promo on Snapple drinks again, so today I might buy two of them, or perhaps the two liter of Coke. Michelle bent my ear with more of her complaints yesterday; and it seems like no two people are ever happy at the same time. Also, the happiness of one person often comes at the expense of another’s. Kind of like what Thomas Dolby sang in “Budapest by Blimp:” our thoughtless happiness is built on the ashes of the Jews and signed in the blood of Zulus. Even while I remember these lines, I can hear Eduardo playing “The Submerged Cathedral” by Claude Debussy on his baby grand piano in the sanctuary. Life is an odd jumble of things and events with different meanings for different people. “Is the new world rising / From the shambles of the old? / If we could just join hands…” A few words from Robert Plant as well. Why is it so hard for us to get it together with each other? But this would be utopia, wouldn’t it? I doubt if Christendom is the solution. It will take more than the kingdom come to set things to right. Moreover, it is our responsibility. 

Reply to Sartre

Quarter after eight.

I totally forgot to buy dog food this morning. Shame on me! So I’ll give Aesop part of my own lunch today. The ground is wet from the overnight rain. Kat waved to me from her living room as I walked past her house. Last night, for some reason I remembered things that happened three years ago, when I was a client at P—. Everybody was such a robot who worked there, or a puppet on strings. In the lobby downstairs I would wait for my taxi when I was done, with a view of the breezeway to the hospital. Some days were better than others, though I often felt judged by the therapists. The nicest person I met there was a guy named D— who had an idea for how to clarify the language. Basically he would purge everything poetic and make it plain and literal, sort of like logical positivism. He was very kind and humorous but troubled. I liked him… I let Aesop know what his breakfast will be today, and now we’re counting down the minutes.

Nine ten. I don’t make a contest of things like I used to. There’s no sense in competition with others. My brother even made a Darwinian thing out of singing karaoke at a local bar, which missed the point completely. I think the best feeling you can have is freedom from guilt and shame that usually result from condemnation by other humans. If you can be remorseless consistently then your life will be carefree… or maybe not. At least we can try to create an earthly paradise for each other, so that heaven is other people. 

American Xanadu

Midnight hour.

Reality dawns on me a bit more all the time, and in America, very little can be done without money. It makes the difference between paradise and damnation, like in a tale by Edgar Allan Poe of how an inheritance of a lot of cash plus a knowledge of horticulture are able to build the Domain of Arnheim here on earth. But it would’ve been impossible without the money. Capitalism is the curse of American life that keeps us in the dark ages, especially if you don’t have any money. I think I’d rather live in Xanadu than in Arnheim, although the vision of Poe is a symptom of the reality of economics. By the way, Poe was poor and only genteel by means of his intellect. He had fame without riches. If I had to pick one over the other, then I’d take fame; but then I could never live in a place like the Domain of Arnheim. Does Xanadu still offer an open door or maybe a window? And is “Xanadu” really Canada? Then Arnheim is a place in the United States, or in its imagination… These thoughts keep me awake at night. I always believe there must be a better way to govern the people than by capitalism. So that Poe’s paradise needn’t be achieved through the almighty dollar, but through ingenuity alone. 

Think Tesseract!

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.