Rabbit’s Feet

It’s a good day today. It sounds like Gloria has been doing a lot of reading. She’s still on the Hamilton but also she read Life after Life and has started the Williams poetry. I told her not to worry about the critical introduction and just enjoy the poetry. Really, Carlos Williams is perfect for simplicity and the details alone, in pieces like “The Great Figure” and “The Red Wheelbarrow;” also “This Is Just to Say,” one of the pastorals, “To a Poor Old Woman,” and many others. Gloria observed how he tends to venerate poor people, or to justify them in some way. He even wrote one about a poor drunkard that doesn’t really condemn him. Gloria got a little bogged down with the Greek mythology, but that’s okay. The names are unfamiliar and difficult, and Hamilton is actually more a reference book than the kind you read through. She got through the story of Hercules and his 12 tasks, etc, but she was surprised by his violence. Maybe I should go read the play by Euripides about Heracles.

The weather is very nice; it’s over 60 degrees and partly cloudy— great puffy white clouds in the blue sky. So, I took a hike to the market and the salon. I saw Lisa just driving away out of the parking lot as I arrived. Kathy and a newer guy were working inside. When I was returning home, Karen waved me to stop in, and she gave me some food and two rawhides for Aesop. The dog was pretty happy with his treats and right now he seems rather tired, resting by the door.

Gloria came after ten o’clock and took me to Bi Mart where I bought six items. She also helped me put the ac back together, with the hose to the window and all that. She cleaned the bathrooms with Fantastik spray, but first we had the Snapple (obligatory) and sat and talked. Her leg was very sore from the surgery; she noticed it more this time. But she said it was getting better each day. Funny but she got hearing aids for both ears and hasn’t told her family yet. I think they put pressure on her to get them, so now she doesn’t want to hear them say they told her so.

Wow. I almost had a big deja vu. I could swear I’d written that before sometime. I kind of like that experience, where an event is familiar to you but you can’t place it. It’s the repetition of something or some strange coincidence, and you want to believe it’s spooky. I can remember having 8th grade English class early in the morning, when the sleep was still in our eyes and we were still half dreaming. Junior high school was an odd mix of realism and superstition before I got to 9th grade. We read about the Hope Diamond curse, saw The Monkey’s Paw, and heard The Pearl by Steinbeck. We wore Rabbit’s Foot socks and carried real rabbit’s feet around the halls every day. Kids played D&D the whole school day.

Well, the rabbit’s feet might’ve been imitation, though they had a toenail in the fur.

I think one of the most intelligent things Ayn Rand ever said concerned how primitive our ethics was. She said Americans have a nuclear bomb in one hand and a rabbit’s foot in the other. Our morals are way behind our technology, in other words.

Sometimes I still kind of like her writing. It interests me that she was a Russian Jewish immigrant and how her background shaped her personality and her philosophy. There are much better writers, but I find Rand quite interesting.

I liked The Fountainhead.


White Chickens


I feel great today even though I skipped church this morning— or maybe because I did that. No pangs of conscience, no guilt or remorse at all, since I did what was good for me. I’ve just been sitting here near my back door, watching the activity of the different birds and squirrels, and thinking a bit about instinct versus intellect, and finally what it was that saved me from drinking any further. I still don’t really know how it happened; only the fact that I don’t drink now. It sounds like a person chopping firewood outdoors at a nearby house. The cold has been bitter and biting for the past week and today it’s cloudy after two days of sunshine. With the clouds has come slightly warmer weather. I hear old Genesis music in my mind. I’m almost done with the selection of Whitman’s poetry. I’m aware of being a scatterbrain but I don’t punish myself for it, and I can only repeat how good I feel at the moment. The wood chopper keeps on working, while most people are indoors probably watching tv. The furnace kicks on now and then to make it cosy in here, and though I am glad for that, I’m not thankful to anything in particular. No angels or devils; no holy horrors. It’s a little like being in a Carlos Williams poem where only the details are important. 


Quarter after ten.

Gloria is in the backyard using the broom on the patio. The sky is white with high clouds and it’s supposed to get quite warm today. It’s funny how I can get overwhelmed by religious ideas, trying to get to the bottom of things like freedom, etc etc. Why don’t I just let them go? Even if I solve the riddle, life will go on just as before. If I believe in freedom, then it needn’t be a complicated thing mixed up with god and the devil and all that nonsense. I ought to relax and allow life to happen as it will. Give my mind a holiday. Make some music on my bass guitar and forget philosophy and theology. For that very purpose I will avoid church after this. Boring, long winded sermons— when the truth is more like the red wheelbarrow and white chickens in the old poem. The rest is confusion caused by human minds. We tend to make things complex and difficult for ourselves for the sake of law and order, but the order itself becomes disorderly. So I imagine a palm tree at the end of the mind, like the Wallace Stevens poem, with the bird of paradise in its fronds. Everything else is unnecessary, at least for today. 


Eight twenty five.

I just got off the phone with RideSource to schedule a ride to see my prescriber tomorrow morning. Before that, I made my little trip to the store, and for a change I felt pretty good. The place was quite busy today and Michelle toggled between the two cash registers to expedite the process of checkout. The weather now is cloudy and not too cold, and no rain is forecast until tomorrow. Again I consider how the literal and natural are a nice escape from cultural things that can be rather oppressive and stifling. The details of the immanent, as in the poetry of Carlos Williams, have a restorative property when you need to get away from excessive religion and psychology. Too much of anything is bad for you, and I find that theology gives me a headache after a while. Maybe after Christmas I’ll slack off on church attendance again, just for my sanity, or maybe never go back. I need a break from overmuch thinking, so that “no ideas but in things” acquires new significance for me: and then I’ll contemplate taking my dog out for a walk and get completely away from my thoughts; or more importantly, another person’s thoughts. 

“So Much Depends Upon…”

Seven thirty.

I’m of half a mind to cancel my trip to the agency this morning. The more I think about it, the more it becomes a certainty… The dispatch office doesn’t open until eight o’clock… My walk to the market was uneventful, but I observed that Michelle was in a pretty good mood today. Very early this morning I ordered The Essential Plotinus, then went back to bed and dreamed about discussing it with Pastor and a few people from church. Supposedly Plotinus is the bridge between Plato and modern Christianity. I won’t know for sure until I read it myself, but the prospect sounds fascinating. Pastor has said that my thinking is similar to the Greeks, though I don’t know how much stock to put in that assessment… It’s going to be another day of cooler temperatures, continuing for the next week.

Eight forty. I guess I’m kind of torn on the existence of the Ideal. Is it really the truth that a trapdoor in the heavens could spring open and a red dragon come flying out, and so on? Is Christianity a “revealed” religion or did people just make it up? And is the imagination intuitive or rather merely creative? If I knew the answers then I wouldn’t be asking these questions. I can tell you what I wish was true, but I think the simplest explanations are the most accurate: and materialism is very simple. The origin of every art form is mimetic; it imitates nature and natural things. Cavemen made paintings of hunting wild beasts on the walls. The first musicians whacked a hollow tree trunk with a stick to emulate thunder. And then, language acquires abstractness with use over time, but the underpinnings are still the literal stuff. The very word “matter” is related to the Latin for “mother.” Everything depends on it, like the world on the red wheelbarrow. 

A New Slogan

Seven forty.

Heather at the market bagged up a few pieces of duck jerky for Aesop for free. Also I bought him some doggie pepperoni. She said that yesterday was a bad day because she’d stayed up late watching The Walking Dead. I made a joke of this, but maybe she didn’t get it. The temperature outside is already close to 60 degrees; it’s supposed to be a scorcher today. I’ve bolted down the only Snapple I purchased this morning. It would’ve made more sense to buy two or three of them. I was on autopilot I guess. I keep hearing the chords to one of our songs in my head, quite obnoxious, brash, and brazen. In a word, offensive. I believe it’s a flatted fifth chord, but it grates. The only thing worse is an augmented octave. It’s the sort of thing used by King Crimson and the old Mahavishnu Orchestra, which I think is what our keyboard player is going for… I plan on going to church this morning, after I feed the dog.

Quarter of nine. It usually takes me about twenty minutes to walk to the church, which is a mile from home: only three miles per hour! Not very impressive, but I was never very athletic. The air is quite still outside, and that doesn’t help when it’s hot.

Quarter of noon. Home again. Right away I gave Aesop some of the jerky treats. He gets excited for those. I felt like a phony in church but I went through the motions anyway. My feelings now are not like three or four years ago; less naive and more alert and shrewd than when I was unwell. I would revise the Paterson slogan to say, “No ideas but in people,” and I think this is the truth. But no matter, because we’re all going to roast in the hot weather this afternoon. 

Sunday Driver

Nine twenty.

Aesop and I slept in for a while this morning. I think a good day is on the way. It is cloudy and cool right now and my mind is a blank. Music: an old James Taylor song about feeling great and blameless. And finally an idea comes to me. This is the one of immediacy of the senses, like the Paterson slogan: no ideas but in things. Sometimes it’s really nice to feel literal and realistic, to feel the earth under your feet, and leave imagination alone…

Eleven thirty. It sounds like Bill across the fence is mowing his lawn. His dog and mine occasionally get into scuffles through the fence, but they don’t last very long… It occurs to me to wonder how long it’s been since I had a burrito from Burrito Boy to take home. It’s been years, because the last time was when I still owned a vehicle. I used to drive to the restaurant, following N. Park around the bend to another street where I’d hang a right. A short jog, then a left turn on Hilliard Street and from there out to River Road. The cool thing about this little community is how the trees flourish, like being in a shaded miniature wood, and the houses are mostly very old, built probably in the forties. The drive was pleasant because I didn’t have to go very fast. There is a hook on N. Park to the left where the Northwest Expressway is visible just on the right, with the railroad tracks also in view… I don’t remember the last time I went to River Road Park, but it might be kind of fun to check it out. On the other hand I think I’d rather take a trip downtown to the vicinity of Fifth Street and visit the shops. 

The Paterson Slogan

Wee hours of Wednesday. Sometimes I feel saved by Carlos Williams; by minutiae, by no ideas but in things. In a world of religious abstraction, one feels the need to be grounded in terra firma, in details, in stuff rather than fluff. There’s nothing amazing about the piece of furniture I’m sitting on, yet it supports my weight. How often do we stop to consider the red wheelbarrow beside the white chickens? To transcend is to go mad, to take leave of our senses. Still, we insist on doing this while the little things go neglected. It is an odd mode of operation. Why do people take matter so for granted? What if we didn’t have reality to sit on? I hadn’t thought about the literal things in life until yesterday afternoon. It came to me like a revelation. Stuff is the only reality we can test and know. Chances are you are sitting on it right now.


Five forty. I checked out Pastor’s movie recommendation and I guess my assumption was wrong. I was trying too hard to analyze what he had said. The one who was irrational was only me… My burrito is cooling down before I eat it. I could go for ice cream tonight. Maybe tomorrow. No worries now about drinking again. It was the thing with Pastor that had bothered me… He may only want to be better friends with me, guessing from the plot of the movie. This is consistent with the time he called me at home on the phone. Easter was the next day and he didn’t even mention it. We just talked about music and literature like ordinary guys. Perhaps the one who needs a friend is him? He has a wife and grown up daughter, and a brother that I know of; but he hasn’t referred to any good friends. Well, having a friend is never a bad thing, so I ought to send him an email.

One forty. I’ve woken up with a stomach cramp. Been dreaming about volunteering with the church, but with frustration. Silly of me, really. Hours ago I sent a link for a King Crimson song to Pastor. No reply yet. I know I’m magnifying things out of proportion. Life is only human after all. I try to mold events into a Henry James novel just for the beauty of it, but life is often rather inconsequential. Or maybe it’s the insignificance that is so poetic? Seeing eternity in a grain of sand. Carlos Williams found the most trivial things worthy subjects for poetry. An old woman eating prunes from a bag: they taste good to her. A pastoral of junk items and furniture gone wrong. A red wheelbarrow beside the white chickens. Fire trucks and great figures in gold. Or the black ants that keep turning up in my kitchen. And a blue heeler dog growing obsessed with bacon strips. All of these snapshots are in themselves the stuff of dreams, of an art that extends to universals. Particulars to generals, or the latter in the former. It’s an idea made famous in a poem by William Blake… So that exaggeration is not really exaggerating, and the smallest things can be the greatest and grandest.