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.
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.
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.
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.