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. 

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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. 

Underdog’s Gamble

Noonish.

I’m having a rather rough day, though the rainfall is a kind of consolation, like sympathetic tears. Dunno; I’m just unhappy with my role as a person with this illness. The inside of my house is a dirty and cluttered wreck, and likewise is my mind sometimes. The two posts I published this morning I trashed; they were just inconsistent with my usual beliefs and attitudes. I guess I’m okay with the open door policy regarding church, the flexibility to come and go as needed. Today I feel like no kind of existential hero, but even the underdog will have his day. All I really want to do is empower people like me with mental illness by means of this blog, and to show you what we’re capable of in spite of a diagnostic label. And if you get some entertainment along the way, so much the better… Right now feels like sort of a trap, a lot of closed doors and windows, and every road leads me back to either church or the agency. The dice I was given are loaded and always land on snake eyes. If only I got just a fighting chance in the real world, the outcome would be fruitful. In the meantime there’s this blog to be my domain, a place for being simply myself. I will do what I can to get myself together in time for the New Year. 

Chill

Nine o’clock.

My day is off to a pretty good start. I opened the front door to go out and found two Amazon packages on the top step. So I told Aesop that Santa Claus had been here. And then I hoofed it to the store like I do every morning. Last night I finally settled on a book to read, some stories by Paul Bowles. At one time he was my favorite writer, but now I’m not sure why. I must have perceived things differently 15 years in the past. It was before I met my cyber friend in the UK… I’m not repeating the Coke again today.

Ten ten. Aesop refused his dog food again. When he gets hungry enough he’ll eat. I have a friend who’s doing volunteer work for her local library right now, so I cheer her on. I feel I should be pursuing my music ambition in the community. I’ll make it a resolution to do that. My writing is sort of floundering lately, I don’t know why. I may be uninspired. It’s difficult to size up the attitudes of the age today. Some people are bickering over religion, but I’ve grown tired of that dispute and try to move beyond it to something more constructive… The writing of Bowles can be rather gruesome in places, but he’s always perceptive, albeit pessimistic or even hopeless sometimes. If no one else likes Paul Bowles, then I’ll claim him for mine… It’s a day of cloud cover and a bit of a chill outside. I’m thinking screw it, everything is going to be all right. Futurity is never a sheer wall you have to climb. Every second arrives effortlessly with the potential to do something out of your comfort zone. 

Letter to a Friend

It was a pretty good day today. I got my account set up at Genoa pharmacy this morning, and the people there were very nice. I saw Darcy and Todd for my appointment. The cab driver was kind of a grumpy old man, yet he was rational to some extent. He didn’t like technology such as tablets and smart phones; and he really hated going online with them. Kind of funny. He said he didn’t like traffic either. I thought of asking him why he decided to become a taxi driver if he felt that way, but discarded the idea! What a moron. Maybe he couldn’t get a job anywhere else. At least he thanked me for guiding him back to my house. It’s interesting to consider how people do such illogical and inauthentic things with their lives. Maybe sometimes it’s because they’re paying lip service to a job they believed they just had to do in order to please another person. Somewhere they choose an option that was wrong for themselves, which takes them completely on the wrong track. Life can be very fascinating from an existential perspective of actions freely chosen by an individual. I find myself in a situation with the church, something that isn’t very genuine for me, and my options are to keep going there and compromise my integrity or to resign from it and be alone but at least okay with myself in conscience. That is, I won’t be a hypocrite anymore if I leave the church. But it takes a lot of guts to do the right thing for yourself; and sometimes it’s not clear which choice is right for you in the long run.

I didn’t do much else today except to play the bass guitar for an hour this afternoon. It was my G&L bass, the one I bought last April with my stimulus money. It’s the best sounding bass I’ve got, by far. Maybe someday soon I’ll have the nerve to look for other musicians again. Guitar Center definitely has a bulletin board for musicians seeking others at the back of the store. Last spring and summer I made some very gut wrenching decisions concerning my music, perhaps the wrong ones. Time will tell, I guess.

Culture is another strange thing. How do certain behaviors get associated with certain jobs or roles in society? Come to think about it, I don’t know what my own role is in this society, but I tend to critique it a lot. Bob Dylan did a song that ends with, “You’re invisible now / You’ve got no secrets to conceal,” and then the chorus goes: “How does it feel / To be on your own / With no direction home / Like a complete unknown / Like a rolling stone?” And I wonder if these lines apply to my own life in a significant way. It depends on how invisible I really am and how persuasive my posts are on WordPress. Or maybe everybody is invisible to a degree?

Writing can be seen as a struggle to get attention to what you write. Some authors go to rash extremities to do that, but it’s probably not worth it to me to join them. It’s better to leave it to the hands of fate than to calculate it too much. So many people are aspiring or disappointed writers. A lot of them end up on WordPress, blogging their lives away. I wonder if I should be planning my next move at this point.

Snowmelt

Two thirty.

Well I gave my French book of Mallarme a cursory flap and found much of it unreadable, like pure nonsense, the drivel of a lunatic: psychobabble in a word. This discovery is a sign that I’m recovering from the illness more and more with time. I ought to be much more coherent now than last winter, not to mention years ago as a churchgoer. I may wish there were an Ideal dimension to the universe, but unveiling it is beyond all method… It is emotional reasoning to posit the spiritual universe; saying I feel it, therefore it must be true, but after this comes the burden of proof. It’s a difficult call to make. Is it right to categorically reject everything arrived at by intuition? And here I’ve opened up the same old can of worms as last winter. If my intuition is blind, it doesn’t make everyone else blind. I remember gifting Pastor that volume of William Blake six months ago, thinking of a particular passage in the Europe prophecy. Isaac Newton blows the last trumpet of doom, after which the angels fall from heaven and crash to the earth. In other words, scientific discovery knocks religion down. It is neither a good or bad situation; it simply is. Or maybe Blake thinks the blow to religion is regrettable… By the way, Blake is another one of those unintelligible poets, like James Joyce toward the end. Word salad. Psychosis… I don’t even know by what means I’ve been thinking since the end of springtime. Things either make sense to me or they don’t. Spirituality still is very hard for me to swallow.

Quarter after nine. However, there’s an image Mallarme uses more than once in his published poetry: something like a “snowfall of perfumed stars.” It makes me want to translate the poem myself to English. And perhaps in doing so, thereby lose my identity in his, or leave the poem extant without an author. Only the words and the reader remain, in a condition of dubious being. 

Wednesday Words

Four fifty five. As I was playing my bass guitar, I fell into doing some passages from “The Gates of Delirium” by Yes, one of the most impressive songs by a progressive rock band ever recorded… It put me in a sort of dreamy mood, reminiscing again on my high school years with so much great music. At my school, not many kids listened to art rock, but the old Yes albums of the seventies happened to get reissued on vinyl in the early eighties. So, like a person with good taste I bought every Yes record I could get my hands on, and my plastic brain memorized all the music like a tape recorder… But now I’m getting older and not as dynamic as I used to be. The good news is that I’m not so paranoid or delusional anymore, which frees me up to do more things with my life. 

I left a voicemail for my sister today but she hasn’t returned my call yet. I thought of her just now because she is a pious Christian. My faith in a literal God, Jesus Christ, and all the other supernatural beings is total toast. I don’t see any way to recover my credence. It isn’t that I don’t believe in being kind to each other, or that love is the greatest thing a person can experience. It’s just the metaphysical nuts and bolts of religion that I can’t accept anymore. There’s no evidence at all for the superstitions that most people take for granted. 

I wonder why Lord of the Flies was such a staple of the old literary canon? We students were brainwashed with this book at the age of fifteen, and the precept of it was that human beings are naturally evil, a contemporary version of Hobbesian philosophy. But why sow this seed of learning in young minds? Forever it would rule our fates as we graduated from school and sought our fortune in the secular world. A few kids rebelled against the curriculum; they were the smart ones, dropping out of advanced English and finding an alternative way. They were the ones who disappeared from my sight in the high school halls, while the rest of us took the full dose of the indoctrination and headed off for college— perhaps to end up many years later writing blog posts for a lucky few followers to puzzle their heads about. 

Passion

Quarter of five.

I made some beautiful notes tonight in my blank book having to do with passion in our lives, and how this is missing since the pandemic. But woven with this theme is also my regret that I’m not drinking anymore. If my deity used to be Dionysus, the god of wine, then I’m at a loss to name my higher power today. I remember reading the tragedy by Euripides about the capture of Dionysus and the vengeance wrought by his devotees. He was older than Jesus Christ, and Christianity borrowed images from the pagans: “I am the vine, you are the branches; without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)… As I marched eastward on Armstrong Street under the azure, I spotted the moon high in the sky, a thumbnail sliver. The heavens were cloudless and deep. But on the earth, the scene was sterile and loveless. I observed that it resembled a nuclear wasteland in the wake of a grand passion that had spent itself. And probably this passion in my mind is my past alcoholism, a disease that apparently ran its course and left me devastated… The first light of dawn is visible outside. The forecast said sunny weather again today. I’ve got DDA on my plate for this afternoon. Just let go and go with it. Knowing how to act after quitting alcohol can be quite difficult. I’ll have four years of sober time three months from now, but I’m never complacent.

Six o’clock. Michelle will be opening the store just now. Suddenly I feel rather tired, but I suppose that’s okay. The morning Snapple tea should taste very good. 

Spirit of Solitude

Six o’clock.

I finally got up after having a dream that refused to make sense. Now, Aesop is up as well. I’m quite convinced that he understands most of what I say to him. It would be odd and frustrating to comprehend language but be mute like a dog except for barking and whining. It looks like a cloudy day ahead. The sprinklers have turned on, startling Aesop, so I tell him this is normal and it happens every day now. The music in my head is poignant: “Long Ago Child” by Pat Metheny. I used to listen to New Chautauqua when I was a senior in college. In the summertime I felt very lonely, so I would go to the bookstores to hang out and try to meet people to talk with. There was just nothing to do during the summer, and no one seemed really interested in talking about abstract things. Everyone’s mind was on the matter, thus I would be very disappointed when I came home and read a book by myself or listened to music… The little market is open now. I could go buy some foodstuffs anytime, if I wanted… One remedy I’ve found for loneliness is the activity of writing. This is like Henry James, keeping himself company with thousands of pages of his own prose, but which he shared with the reading public, to his great acclaim. How would it feel to be awarded the Order of Merit and then be buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? Did he still feel lonely or was he at last fulfilled? And do I really want to live a life like Henry James? Well, on certain days I don’t have much of a choice… Later today I’m going to DDA for a meeting. I’ll get to see a few people, and the most interesting ones are often the cabbies who drive me there and back. I think I’ll go buy a Snapple very soon, and take a look at the neighborhood around me.

Quarter of eight. Now there is sunshine through the heavy clouds. Michelle was distracted by her cell phone when I was checking out. As I was standing in line, I saw my image on the monitor and marked how stupid I looked: a bald guy of average height with poor posture and a clueless expression on his face. Just an intellectual geek caught on Candid Camera in a convenience store at seven in the morning. Otherwise I noticed nothing out of place. Crossing N. Park on my way home I thought again of Henry James, of his loneliness and the way he often went to dinner invitations to hear stories from which he could fashion new fictions. Music: “A Day in the Life.” Aesop looks at me and I tell him 49 minutes till his breakfast. It is good to be understood. 

Perfect

Nine forty.

The weather is unbeatable this morning, perfect as a picture. I probably won’t do the coffee ice cream again for a while, though it was worth it for grins. I asked Suk when Michelle would be back to work and he said two or three weeks. This information surprised me, but it’s none of my business. I’d been thinking I would go to Bi Mart this morning. Now I think I’ll postpone it to tomorrow afternoon since I have no appointments then. I just got back home with Aesop’s canned food and my day’s sustenance. Did I say the weather is beautiful today?

There are so many books I could read. Right now I feel curious about the stories of Jorge Luis Borges. I’ve only read one of them, and it was quite interesting, dealing with the creative power of language in a sort of wilderness of the written word. His invention of books and periodicals that don’t exist reminded me of The Necronomicon of Lovecraft, a totally fictitious work of black magic he alludes to repeatedly… Another book that intrigues me is The Big Money by John Dos Passos because of its connection with Neil Peart. I’d like to know where the Rush lyricist got the inspiration for “The Camera Eye.” It would be nice to dive a little deeper into the city imagery of this song and perhaps write a poem of my own about it. I haven’t tried writing just an objective sketch in quite a while. I love the calm detachment of some of Rush’s best lyrics and wish to cultivate this mood for my writing.

Quarter of eleven. I remember a December evening in a hotel in Reno when I sipped Old Granddad by myself with my back to the window, reading Atlas Shrugged, then switching to Stephen Crane, and finally listening to Rush with my Sanyo portable cassette player. Out of the window you could watch the traffic coming down the highway over the Sierras as night was falling and the headlights came on. I saw the first star appear in the sky, and I recall what I wished for. It was perfect.