Success

Wee hours.

I just want to feel that the blogging I do is worthy and worthwhile. My sister thinks I ought to have a job that earns money for my sense of self esteem. She doesn’t understand the value of writing, its utility, its beauty: its indispensability. I don’t want a pedestrian job that goes nowhere. Sometimes it seems that nothing I do leads to fruition and this thing called success. But the definition of success is relative to each individual. If I were to attain a degree of fame or notoriety by my writing then I’d count myself a successful man. The naysaying from my sister may serve to motivate me a bit more: it drives me to defy her and her small minded opinions. I remember now how I felt toward the family at the start of my recovery, my reasons for blogging versus Facebook and for deactivating my Facebook account… Never allow other people to shame you into or out of anything. Don’t feel guilty when your values clash with theirs. Be proud of who you are and what you do. What others may see as foolish idealism is your winning lottery ticket. Their pragmatism is only proof of their blindness. Let them grub for transitory things. We have more important things to accomplish. 

To Be a Better Writer

Aesop held a grudge against me ever since yesterday morning for using the phone a few times. He hates nothing more than that. It’s his worst bete noir and pet peeve of all. It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong with him, but now I know.
I made a post this morning that was simply realistic, just reporting on what I observed when I hiked to the store. The interesting thing about realism is its complexity and refusal to conform to our expectations based on systems of belief or whatever else we use to simplify experience. A faithful adherence to facts reveals lots of irony and contradiction, something like paradox. A paradox is a contradiction that only seems to be that way. Deeper analysis shows it to be the truth. Sometimes when I write, I can really nail this style, so it’d be great to refine it to a craft. Maybe this fall I’ll be able to concentrate more on being a better writer, perhaps getting away from the philosophical stuff. I might invest some time in reading Josep Pla’s Gray Notebook. I need an influence that complements the style I’m going for. It seems like I was pretty good at it a couple of years ago.
Today isn’t very remarkable otherwise. The sky is still smoky white, casting a brown light on the ground below. I’d consider a trip to the market but it’s rather gross outside. It can wait till tomorrow morning. I don’t know which title I might buy from loa yet. Something with good descriptive writing. Maybe Steinbeck?

Afterthought

In the years after Star Wars came out, the cable company here didn’t offer much to choose from. However, we got channels from Portland and also one from San Francisco: KTVU, Channel 2. This last one was a lot of fun for kids in the afternoon. At three thirty or so they had the TV Pow game in between Tom and Jerry cartoons, hosted by Pat McCormick, who also did Dialing for Dollars with a movie every weekday. And then at five o’clock it was Captain Cosmic, who would show old Flash Gordon serials and also talk about Star Wars miscellany for avid fans of George Lucas.

I don’t know when I quit watching Channel 2; maybe after I got to seventh grade and started reading regular books for fun. Also I couldn’t watch tv during the afternoon anymore because I had homework to do every day. And my mother usually helped me with that. In all fairness, I think it was my mother who taught me how to write decent prose, and that was when I was in junior high school. It’s kind of amazing to recognize that now. I learned a great deal in seventh grade from Mom and from my reading teacher, Cathy Cheleen. The latter taught us not to use run-on sentences, and Mom said to make them short and punchy. She told me to use synonyms for the same things for variety; and I still heed her advice even today.

It’s probably the Coke that made me write to you again. Sometimes it makes me feel really good. When that happens, I try to seize the day and take advantage of the good mood.

Louder than Actions

Seven o’clock.

There’s nothing really on my plate from now until Saturday. Yesterday I battled with the desire to drink, but somehow quashed it. I was thinking that nothing is very fun anymore and sort of pitying myself. But the brave thing is to stay sober in spite of all adversities that come my way. It’s a cool thing to have such self control. I probably inherited it from my dad; my mother and my brother always willed to drink. If you want to do something, then that’s what you will do in the end. The mental events that go with behavior are almost negligible, like with Gilbert Ryle’s behaviorism. Yet if I really believed that, then I wouldn’t bother with writing, would I? “Talk, talk, talk will always get you somewhere,” sings Jon Anderson. It seems an expression of nihilism to say silence is golden. I had a psychiatrist who thought that writing was doing nothing. He was very extroverted, in the tradition started by Freud. For him, only observable actions counted. I believe I have writing to thank for a lot of my recovery, so how can anyone call this doing nothing?

Quarter of eight.

It’s cloudy this morning but still supposed to be 96F. A dove makes his melancholy call, but inside the house is silent. Is silence really golden? I remember making a rock and roll noise at a friend’s house in the Whiteaker neighborhood. I kind of envied him his location, where people were pretty liberal and laid back, and he could host a jam on Thursday nights. That was the last time I played drum kit with good musicians. I even taught a young guy a drum lesson in that house, and then I didn’t see him again. His name was Jonathan. Time does fly. A lot can be done when you seize the day or the day seizes you. Maybe it’s not a matter of conquering happiness. Today will be good.

Friendly Counsel

And it’s quite a nice one. I just made a second run to the salon and store, gabbing with Kim and then picking out a huge cookie for Aesop that got some attention from Deb and Cathy. Of course I also bought a Coke. This morning with Gloria went really well. We drove to Springfield to recycle again, but I gave all the money to her for doing my laundry. The amount she asked was equal to the value of the bottles, just a flukey coincidence unless it was a Jungian phenomenon. You never know.

I think I know what you mean about the situation with blogging, though I’m curious what the other blogger wrote that made your heart sink. There are some days when I can offer pearls on my domain but still nobody cares. I get no likes or comments at all except from Liz and maybe one more person. Yet it doesn’t bug me too much. I think I’m getting used to rejection. I’m learning to feel satisfied just reading on my own and writing in my journal— and to you every day. Further, I seem to be accepting that fame and immortality will never happen to me, whatever my mother dreamed for me. I doubt if I’ll be the next Edgar Allan Poe or Jack London, or whoever Mom admired. I believe a lot of being famous is being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, and having a shrewd business sense. You also need to be tough, maybe even unscrupulous to some extent. It’s probably true that nice people finish last. Those who have a genuine sense of morals and what’s right have a slimmer chance of success. In sum, the ones who make it big time are usually jerks. I’m thinking particularly of the guy who led the disco band, but it applies to other careers as well.

Right now, it’s enough for me to live in comfort and security with a certain feeling of contentment. I can hardly believe the way good things are falling in my lap since this year began. I don’t feel especially oppressed or anything for having my diagnosis. It’s kind of like plucking dollars off of trees, a life of the Golden Age as Hesiod tells it, or like the Garden of Eden: prelapsarian existence, before Adam and Eve had to work for their living. Maybe I should feel guilty or ashamed for my idleness, but somehow I circumvent feeling lousy about myself. Family dynamics are almost telepathic, with a certain subliminal language; but it’s a language I don’t use anymore. Now I don’t give a damn what they think of me. And with my free time I can express myself however I want. Perhaps when I’m gone, a kind soul will save my notebooks and preserve them.

Did you know that Emily Dickinson became famous only posthumously?

It may seem like a waste of time and effort, but I hope you keep writing even if it’s just for yourself. If you don’t try at all, then your chances of success really are zero.

I guess it’s a question of why you write, or why anyone writes. Are we looking for immortality or what? Do we need self empowerment?

I only write because it’s a natural function for me. I once had a dream that I was a speech writer for Donald Trump! It gave me all kinds of privileges, yet he was a very dangerous man to work for… Just a dream, as I said.

Maybe it’s just a matter of sheer faith in what you do. “Have faith in you and the things you do / You won’t go wrong / Oh no, this is our family jewel.” Sister Sledge.

Liberty Bell 🔔

Well I’m glad this morning is behind me and I have two days now to rest and take it easy. I started writing in my new journal this morning: really pleased with it. Seems to inspire me to better thoughts than ordinary blank books. A while ago I returned to my old theme of individual freedom, especially in Continental thinking, for instance Spain and France over the centuries, from Cervantes to Sartre. I just love that stuff. I always get excited for the idea of personal liberty, whether or not it’s illusory, perhaps an impossible dream. The point, I guess, is to keep the dream of freedom alive in our imaginations and work towards its realization. It’s awfully easy to get depressed with the belief that we are nothing but pawns in a government game, puppets controlled by a master puppeteer. This is especially true if you are a mentally ill person snared in the system, having to take the medication and jump through the hoops that ultimately boil down to economics and the associated greed and corruption. Even if freedom is only a dream, still dreams inspire people to action in the end. I might argue that Edgar Allan Poe flew to the moon just by writing a story about it, because posterity made his fantasy a reality, inspired by his original idea.

For a Teacher

Six forty.

I had a little malfunction with my medication for a while but now I’m back on track. I can hardly wait to use my next Peter Pauper journal, the cover design is so pretty. The image is called “Mystic Moon.” Soon I will spoil its virgin pages with the scope of my thought and probably never get anywhere; no kind of revelation that lasts more than a day. Right now I’m stuck on the problem of logic versus poetic language. If you think like a positivist, then what do you do with poetry, unless poetry is grounded in reality like with Carlos Williams? I haven’t looked at Richard Hugo’s poetry in a very long time, but I remember how dense and difficult it was. The difficulty was not due to being abstract at all, but rather the diction was quite deliberate and unexpected, original at every point, with lots of adjectives. The method of contemporary poetry is much different from Romanticism and Modernism. It cuts down all abstracts and employs details to evoke emotion in the reader. Or anyway, that’s what I was taught in my last writing workshop. It’s a lesson I mostly disregard nowadays, though maybe heeding it would benefit my writing today. And I owe this learning to Ellen, wherever she is now. She reminds me that American poetry didn’t end with the Modern movement. 

One Fine Day

Two o five.

Well, everything went just fine with my PCA’s first day and we got some things done. We recycled more than 310 bottles at the bottle return place in Springfield. It’s kind of a nice facility, and one of the attendants was fairly polite and helpful. After that we picked up a lot of boxes and some trash and took it all out to my bins outdoors. We started at nine o’clock and I pooped out by noon while Gloria kept going for another hour and a quarter. Then we called it a day. Aesop seemed to be okay in the backyard, though he was quite exhausted when I finally let him back in the house. I think he’s a bit mad at me now, but sometimes he has to learn his role as a canine being. Meanwhile, all of my thoughts on freedom and politics, etc, have been bogus and probably paranoid. Definitely inflated and totally vain in multiple senses of the word. I believe it would be good to invest some time reading something mature, sober, and realistic. Also my own style of writing will morph in a new direction, depending on what happens next with my life’s events. 

Having, Having Not

Eight ten.

Heather just told me she had given her two weeks’ notice to the market for her resignation. She wants to dedicate more time to her salon, and also she can make more money that way. My own finances are very squeaky this winter, with hardly anything for extras. I don’t know how good of a job the current administration is doing for the disabled, particularly the mentally ill. I saw an article saying that the president has a blind spot for that. If writing is power, then I need all of the power I can get… The sun is already burning off the fog and it should be a sunny day. What I really want is the rhetorical muscularity of a Victor Hugo, a pompous Romantic voice to grab people’s attention. There’s a lot of us living in “misery” today, people with hardly a means to express their plight. It just feels like such a trap. But then I ought to feel thankful for my free time to do as I wish, poverty aside. Life is never perfect. For every gain there’s a loss somewhere. The law of conservation.

Perhaps you’re only as poor as you feel, and true wealth is wisdom. One’s situation can always be much worse. Content yourself with what you have. 

A Little Push

Eight thirty at night.

Where is it written that the truth shall set you free? Whether it does or not, the best policy seems to be honesty, though it’s not a law of nature. I remember a couple of Melville plots where the protagonist was damned no matter what he did or said. I guess it’s better to write your own plot as a free author and show some backbone. Courage is often rewarded by whatever powers be, while shrinking away and sniveling achieves nothing. It even takes being intrepid to open a book like Being and Nothingness and interpret it. All paper trails lead me to this book; even Cervantes points to Sartre, depending on the translation you read of the Quixote. If I say I’m not smart enough to tackle the task, then my philosophy professor from 34 years ago would say something about the intrinsic reward of learning. I can forecast the wages of doing nothing; without effort there’s no gain, and Being and Nothingness remains in its place gathering dust. Just another object, the being in itself. I need just a little push to motivate me. But would it really change my life to give it a read? Existence precedes essence: individual human beings create their own identity from a baseline of utter freedom. If that’s true, then you can’t go wrong with Sartre. And psychology has to move over to accommodate philosophy— which has always expressed the possibilities of human freedom, just by putting ink to paper.