Noise and Glory

Seven thirty.

The silence right now is sepulchral. But when I went to the store it was fairly busy. I saw mostly guys there, but also one Black woman in line ahead of me. It’s another clear morning with the high expected to be 98F. In the parking lot of the market I passed a car occupied by a very voluble bloodhound. It took me a minute to realize the origin of the noise; I could hear it from many yards away on the sidewalk. When I compare a day like today with events only a year ago, I think, “There hath passed away a glory from the earth.” I wonder whither fled the visionary gleam with the freshness of a dream. Everything is so ordinary, prosaic, and mundane nowadays. And yet, who are we to demand more than this? Vaguely I was also thinking of my mother as I walked home, and her name just happened to be Gloria. It was she who gave my creativity a soul for most of my lifetime.

Eight twenty.

Aesop my cattle dog had his breakfast of turkey and green bean canned food, chomping it down with gusto. The quiet prevails, broken only by the sound of birds. But now, Roger decided to come out and do one of his projects. There’s a siren beyond my suburb screaming bloody vengeance at somebody. Silence is golden, but the noise can’t be helped. It’s the contract we make with society. I’m opting out of church again, indefinitely. I’m free to do at least that. “Give me my freedom for as long as I be / All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.” If silence is golden, then music is glorious.


The View

Wee hours.

Thursday should be an easier day than yesterday night. Right now it’s so quiet in the house that I can hear my ears ringing from many rock music gigs past. I got through the fateful day Tuesday plus the uncertainty of playing with the church last night; now it’ll be nice to coast for a day. Pastor really liked my J Bass that I put together from a kit two and a half years ago. Through the 25W Rumble amplifier it sounds flatulent but with a great deal of volume to spare in our sanctuary. The only technical difficulty I had was a bad instrument cable but fortunately Pastor had an extra one I could use. The medley of “God Rest Ye” and “We Three Kings” went pretty well. Pastor said he hadn’t played his guitar since last Christmas Eve— a whole year ago.

Outside, I can hear the light rain softly coming down. During the afternoon yesterday, disconsolate, I watched the sky out of my bedroom window. I saw the white clouds slowly shifting and looking cold like winter, bright and sharp, with the bare apple tree branches in the foreground, interlaced with oak limbs. The mute sky tried to speak something to me, or maybe it was a romantic reciprocity of nature and my mind, as in The Prelude. Even a bad day can be redeemed when you take refuge in a natural setting, or just admire the view and imagine yourself elsewhere. 

Heaven’s Exile

Eight thirty.

The sun was already murderous when I dragged myself to the store this morning. The other thing I’m not happy about is the situation with hiring a PCA: I still don’t know what to do. I should just tell her the truth. Be assertive and spill my guts. There’s nothing wrong with the way I feel. What I really hate is not having control over my life. If you give others an inch, they take a mile and run you right into the ground. As long as I have the power to say yes or no, I will exercise this right. And yet I keep wimping out with the people in these organizations… Sometimes my antipsychotic doesn’t work as well as other times and I utter stuff that makes no sense. It used to be that alcohol was my medication, and it actually worked pretty well. Yesterday I wrote some gibberish to myself about the cities of the plain in Genesis: Sodom and Gomorrah. I think I was feeling paranoid about the heatwave in the Northwest. But no sane person would believe it was a divine curse on Oregon and Washington. I was just having a mental moment.

Nine thirty. The thought crosses my mind occasionally that I want to go home, but I’m not sure what this means. Perhaps it is to be reunited with my parents, having a few beers with my dad or strong brandies with my mom. Someday in the afterlife I may get my heart’s desire, but until then, earthly life is a kind of exile from heaven, even as Wordsworth describes in his Intimations Ode. Life is hard. 


Eleven thirty 🕦. It’s been a good couple of days for me, very eye opening and illuminating. It feels so strange when the face of nature changes in accordance with the political scene, kind of like the sympathy of nature in a Shakespeare play, for instance Julius Caesar or King Lear. Human eyes project new meaning onto the world, and the result of this interplay of mind and matter is an effect we know as reality; so that perception is what Wordsworth described to us in The Prelude about two centuries ago. It’s funny, though; I feel rather lazy, as if I could go on sabbatical from my writing for a while and still feel like a worthwhile person. Today’s social climate seems to me like that of the 1990’s. It’s tempting not to take individual responsibility and rather say that every person is a passive mirror of the day— when the truth may be that human beings collectively create the spirit of the age from our own souls. The mysterious thing is whence these ideas of ours spring; so I suppose that Jungian theory has some applicability… but even Jung got the idea from his Romantic predecessors… Thus I look out on a June day in Oregon, making out the shapes and colors of the cloudy sky from the backseat of a taxi or through my bedroom window. The lemon lime filters into the kitchen and family room, yet the process is an operation of my own mind, which in turn participates in a greater reservoir of the human nous. So, it’s rather problematic whether what I see is external nature or a projection of my mind. But perception is likely not entirely passive as in Aristotle’s model of naive realism. Then again, realism can be a comfort, like the ordinary loveseat I’m sitting on. Does it make sense to call this a projection of my mind? And here I arrive at an impasse in my meditation, because I always have liked the simplicity of the immanent, the mundane and ordinary stuff that surrounds us. Are we such stuff that dreams are made on, or is it preferable to keep things simple? 


Quarter of noon. A few minutes ago I poked through a box and pulled out an old copy of Wordsworth’s selected poems and prefaces. The brown spots of age couldn’t be avoided, but I still really love this book. When I read it the first time, my comprehension wasn’t very good, and getting through it was a struggle. And yet I think I absorbed much of it subconsciously. The year 1993 was an interesting one for me. That Christmas Eve, my dad gave me the complete ballet of The Firebird, which was a big thrill when I listened to it and The Song of the Nightingale… I can hear neighbors mowing the lawn in the sunshine. I feel a lot better than I did yesterday, and now I’m done with the vaccination. It does seem rather like an exercise in conformity, but I guess our government knew what was best for us. Aesop has fallen asleep at my feet. There are times when I wouldn’t mind owning a television, but the cost of cable tv is extortionate in my opinion. About twenty years ago, cable was the first expense I got rid of. And even if I had television, then Aesop wouldn’t be sleeping peacefully as he is right now. I guess the fewer the hooks I have in me the better. Reading poetry is not a hook. It is something I have control over, while tv tends to be the controller of what you see.

Two thirty. I wonder why alcohol and sex, or maybe sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all go together in a bundle. Thomas Hardy observed how drunkenness and sexuality and the way of the natural world all go hand in hand, at least in our culture. These things are the makings of fate, so how is it possible to remove yourself from the plan? I guess you just go to church or something else drastic. It seems to have worked for me, though I don’t know how. Doubtless it’s something cultural. A lot of people would refuse to do what I did. Probably even Hardy would’ve been reluctant to join something Christian— and that’s why his fatalism failed on me, and I discovered a new avenue to free will. I broke the spell of his Casterbridge novel by stepping outside of his world of Wessex— by going where the author himself wouldn’t go. 

Gray May Basket

Seven thirty.

It rained during the night. The forecast says no rain today, but the clouds look quite gray. I got a good sleep for a change. I got up in the small hours and read to the end of Symposium. I feel like I’m getting another chance to do what I’d always wanted to do, which is to make music with my buddies. The only thing that could thwart this is substance abuse. Life for an active alcoholic tends to crumble to ruin, as I’ve seen firsthand. It’s kind of ironic how Oregon has legalized marijuana, since this can be a drug of demise like alcohol.

Quarter of nine. My mood was rather weird on my outing to the store, as I turned over thoughts about criminal activity and declining morals. I saw a number tattooed to the back of the cashier’s neck and began to wonder. And then I almost inadvertently stole a bottle of pain medication that was in the bottom of my shopping bag. It is strange how our thinking modifies our perception from moment to moment, as Wordsworth describes in The Prelude. As if events in the world were fitted to the workings of the human mind, or perhaps reality is completely projected by the latter. It started to rain lightly when I was coming home, so my rain jacket was a good call. On my own street, maybe five cars were parked in front of Betty’s old house, and again I felt suspicious. The blinds were all closed in everyone’s front window, and I observed that my front lawn is in need of a mowing. Presiding over the whole scene was this sense of gray ambiguity from the cloud cover and also from my own vision. An odd sort of May Day morning. 


Eleven thirty. I’m very anti Carl Jung and his idea of the collective unconscious, which is founded on something spiritual, sort of like the Hindu Brahman. I guess I’m getting farther away from Eastern thinking, for better or for worse. Carnap reduces a word like “essence” to absurdity because it has no referent in physical reality. I’d forgotten how much Eastern thinking depends on intuition. Jung and Campbell both were steeped in Indian philosophy, and this is a fact I have to respect. I recall the first time I read a sampling of The Upanishads, how it made me feel. The concept of the One was a beautiful thing. “That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature.” This statement in the Rig Veda is entirely intuitive and introspective, but for this reason should we reject it? A whole culture was based on this style of reasoning, so how can it be ruled out as fallacious by a small group of people?

Noon hour. The weather is lightening, with a breakthrough of sunshine. Usually I feel pretty lousy, but my mood today is better than average thanks to the band. We’re going to have fun… There was a dramatic irony in my last post. A point came across that I didn’t intend, yet it stands there in spite of myself, and without my knowledge. Abruptly a shower appears in the sunlight, followed by the newsflash that Trump was acquitted… Wordsworth writes how nature and the mind of man are somehow fitted to each other as part of a divine design. It’s a thrust I can’t rightly parry as the sunshine grows and intensifies. 

Child Is the Father

One fifty in the morning.

I had a round of bad dreams about my dad. Essentially I saw him as a sadist, one who derives pleasure from the suffering of other creatures, and as such, a terrible man. Expiation is the word Hugo uses for atonement, or rather his translator uses it. I feel as though my parents need such a thing, so maybe that’s my duty while I’m still alive. Or maybe it’s better to let them fade into obscurity. Better to help the living than the dead. But my dreams don’t let me forget them. When I was a toddler I had a lucid dream of my parents being judged by a wise old man who could be none other than Jesus. He shone as a star in the night sky, then he descended from heaven to persecute my mother and father. I ran into the house to try to warn them of their danger, pursued by the white bearded wizard. It’s so strange as a child to be alone with a dream. How do you explain it to someone when you lack the vocabulary to do so? And then, who listens to a three year old? 

Uptown, Downtown: a Letter

Well I had an interesting day. It was sort of interwoven with old and new for my interior experience, and there was definite interplay between mind and reality, creating one person’s impression. I began to notice this in the waiting room of the physical therapy office: although no Halloween decorations existed, my mind imparted this essence to the colors I saw around me, giving them the luster of October 2002 from my memory. Doubtless this was the influence of having read Wordsworth recently. And yet our minds probably create this way all the time, making a fiction of fact, therefore who knows what is real? My appointment went well enough. Christina knows her business and was able to help me quite a bit today. The weather started with a high fog that burned off and gave way to beautiful sunshine before it was noon. The excursion took me up north a mile on River Road to the Santa Clara Square, where there’s a big Albertsons supermarket and a strip mall with a lot of small shops. Axis Physical Therapy is housed in the lower level of the medical building stuck in the middle of the parking lot. There is also a Shari’s Restaurant that’s been there forever. And across Division Avenue is the big Fred Meyer shopping center, where my sister goes for groceries at least once a week. In our petty disagreement with each other, Polly has staked out the territory north of the highway for herself, and south of it is my domain. I suppose a lot of this is my imagination, but I think Polly sees the same political division of north and south up and down River Road. The farther south you go on this street, the more it takes you into the heart of the city. It actually merges with Chambers Street at the bridge, and down underneath it is the Eugene Mission. It begins to get interesting for me around Fifth Street. Downtown Eugene starts more or less here, and Sixth and Seventh are arteries for heavy traffic; also 11th, 13th, and 18th Streets. I love Downtown! I don’t get to go there often enough. From the top of Skinner Butte you can see the layout of the whole city of Eugene. But my absolute favorite place is probably Fifth Street, especially the corner of Fifth and Pearl, where Musique Gourmet used to be. And I believe Smith Family Bookstore is on Fifth and Willamette… I get a bit emotional describing these places because my dad used to drive me there in the years when I wasn’t well. I guess I really miss my dad. He seemed to be better adjusted than my mother…


Eight o’clock.

The dense fog through my bedroom window was rather pretty to see just minutes ago. Aesop, my cattle dog, looked at me with love in his eyes. My mind still plays “Blue Motel Room” for some obscure reason; sometimes it morphs to “Cotton Avenue.” Right now is a lull time before Aesop’s breakfast. I slept well and my mind is clear. Yesterday the sun came out in mid afternoon, cheering the scene a bit. My red oak has been dropping leaves already, some of which are gold. Nature is a little confused, but she’s trying to repair herself and continue as usual. The hot east wind we had last month, fanning the wildfires, was like something released from hell… The Wordsworth I read yesterday was good but a bit heavy on the abstracts. Essentially he was saying he lived through the French Revolution and Robespierre had died. He faulted him with being an atheist, whereas those who supported the monarchy were religious and conservative. There’s one more section on France before The Prelude winds down and concludes. Then I may range through his other poems again… Hopefully my brain can synthesize some of this information into poetry of my own. But it takes more of an effort now than it used to. If life itself is an epic poem, then there are elements of sound and fury and complete hurly burly. Maybe an overall order presides in our lives, though often hard to see. Aesop doesn’t care, just so he gets his breakfast on time.

Quarter after ten. Karen fed me a double chocolate donut, but otherwise nothing special happened. She said Jean has come down with shingles. But life just goes on as normal, mostly. I feel lucky to be so comfortable at home, with a dog who’s mellowing over time. I content myself with little, and the little is enough.