Quarter after nine.
I’m suffering from a slightly guilty conscience for avoiding church today. Schizophrenia is a biological disease, not a defect of moral character, so why should I be shipped off to church to be reformed? I’ve grown sick of spiritual leaders who are basically dictators on what is ontologically what. Enough said.
Ten forty. My sister called me over an hour ago, giving me the perfect excuse to stay home. When I went to the market a while ago, the streets were dry and safe for walking on. The winter sky is marbled blue and white while the sun makes an appearance. I bought myself a Pepsi for the fun of it. Lately I haven’t been in the mood for theology or ethics, or for anything beyond the physics. The natural world is enough to make me happy. Old traditions are for old people in togas. Emerson’s attitude was, “The sun shines today also,” so why experience life secondhand? Read your Emerson first, then you put even his stuff away… Yesterday I made some noise on my Fender bass. I had to file down the slot I’d started in the E saddle of the Badass bridge so now the string doesn’t slip out. I’ve observed that I rarely listen to music anymore when I’m alone, probably because my memory is mostly phonographic.
Eleven forty. Even so, I could enjoy a run through of The Yes Album, especially “Perpetual Change” and “Starship Trooper.”
I jammed on my G&L bass for a while. The snow was so bright that I didn’t have to turn the light on in the room. Out the window I could see Victoria sweeping her car of snow. A lot more people are coming out today to drive or walk around. They talk together in raised voices as if excited. When I was out on the sidewalk I heard this lyric: “The moments seemed lost in all the noise / A snowstorm, a stimulating voice / And rest for the day / With cold in the way.” During the time I played my bass, I moved the switch to the center to tap all the pole pieces, giving me a full range of tone. Sounds great, but I need someone else to play with. I expect two packages today and tomorrow, but the one coming by mail might be delayed… I can’t believe it’s only two thirty. But our daylight will be spent in another two hours. I don’t know if my little Rumble 25 is reparable or not. I may have to get a new amp for church, which doesn’t break my heart at all. There are some really nice combo amps for bass for a bit more money. Although, I don’t want to leave it in the sacristy all the time to be disused.
Some very old music rises to my consciousness by the Ray Brown Orchestra. He was an amazing bass player, and hardly anyone realizes that he could play electric bass as well as acoustic upright. The tone of his Fender Precision would melt in your mouth and he was all over it with his huge hands… Amazon had one more copy of the music I wanted in stock— so I snagged it. It arrives on my birthday.
Eight o five.
It’s pretty cold out right now; only 36 degrees, but at least it isn’t raining. They had chicken jerky at the store so I bought some for Aesop. Other than making two phone calls, I have nothing important to do today. The radio played “Broken Wings” by Mister Mister, an old hit from 1986 or thereabouts; but yesterday the song was “El Paso” by Marty Robbins, which Michelle said she liked. I wondered to myself if there was anything racist about that tune, but it’s just a little song about interracial love. “Out in the south Texas town of El Paso / I met a beautiful Mexican girl.” Honestly, I don’t know the rest of the lyric, so I should probably look it up.
The mornings of me walking to the market are blending into a blur, and I can remember hardly anything after I get home. I struggle to say something new but the days are all alike. I guess it’s on me to change it. “In the morning when you rise / Do you open up your eyes / See what I see / Do you see the same things every day? / Do you look for a way / To start the day / Getting things in proportion? / Spread the news and help the world / Go round.” Some people have been saying that money makes the world go round; they are mostly younger people and don’t remember what old rock bands like Yes used to sing. The word is not money. The word is love and the time is now.
Quarter after eight.
It can be over a month before Risperdal takes full effect, so I should just be patient and a bit sympathetic with myself. I had my morning Snapple tea for my caffeine buzz and I’m feeling better. I didn’t see Michelle today; Suk held down the fort himself. There were quite a few customers, and also a small beer distributor for a product called Boneyard Beer. I saw a few Mexican guys and some blond woman who was obnoxious for saying excuse me— or was it thank you? Aesop is whining for his breakfast. I texted Rebecca about this week’s developments a few minutes ago… The funny thing about different brands of beer is that they all have the same active ingredient: ethanol. No matter how unique they say their product is, they all just get you drunk.
I guess I’m going to church this Sunday to participate in the service. My mind keeps playing the same Yes song, “Awaken.” I shared it with Pastor and he said he liked it when he emailed me yesterday evening. He even researched it a bit for some background information on its composition, particularly the lyric. I suppose I was way off when I compared it to Keats. It is different when you engage with the text alone from digging for historical and biographical contexts. Maybe there’s no wrong interpretation of a work of art. So, to my mind, this Yes song may always be like Endymion or “Ode to a Nightingale.” …The air quality outside is getting even smokier, clotting the blue sky and changing the color of the sun. For a moment I forgot about the trouble with my medication. Everything is the same when I don’t think about what drug I’m taking. Or maybe music and poetry comprise a drug in themselves, one that’s nontoxic and good for the soul.
Quarter of midnight.
It is best for me to take responsibility for my loss of faith rather than attribute it to the spirit of the age. I must pick up the pieces and go from there, reassembling them to a picture that pleases the eye and makes the most sense. Do we have to call it a fiction? But there’s a purpose for our imagination, an adaptive reason for being; perhaps it is the science of God, the fingers touching in the Sistine Chapel. Humankind has an instinct to reach for its creator and its own being, as I can remember hearing in an old song by Yes, about creating or recreating heaven by means of the heart’s dream. At the very end of the song, the dreamer is gently awakened to reality once again: like in a Keats poem, but made more powerful by the medium of music… It’s rather odd how we can forget the things that are the most important to human progress and perfection, such as music and Romantic poetry; and if it was only me, then my heart repents this thoughtless trespass. So now, it makes sense to take an hour and listen to Going for the One once again, a classic album of progressive rock, timeless and timely. You who have an ear, may you hear, and let the error of the times slide by.
Quarter after eleven.
The heat has an impact on me with or without air conditioning, but I’m very fortunate to be as comfortable as I am. The email scammer tried to get a response from me early this morning. I trashed his message without opening it. Skeptics of the virus think it’s cute not to wear a mask in public. They make jokes about getting away with it, as if the compliers were stupid. It’s an individual thing, though it would benefit us if everybody played by the same rules. Michelle the store clerk wears a mask because she has diabetes. I wear one because someone in my family was sick with Covid…
I was thinking again that people need more beauty in their lives. Are beauty and truth allied with each other or rather at odds? Reality is pretty ugly today, but reality and truth are different things. Truth is eternal, reality transitory. And if truth doesn’t exist then we’re screwed. My mind goes to the rock band Yes and their 1996 release Keys to Ascension. “How did heaven begin?” Evidently we created it in a manner like William Blake, by sheer mental fight and poetic language. In All Religions Are One he suggests that the True Man is the same as the Poetic Genius… But it’s hard to write about this when my Romantic faith is flimsy, my conviction shaky. Also it’s difficult to pull it off all alone. Is anybody else with me?
Noon hour. The air quality is bad today; they say it’s unhealthy to sensitive groups. Another intrusive fact… Now they’re saying it’s unhealthy for everyone… Obviously it’s from wildfire smoke. I just looked it up on the internet. I only hope it won’t be like the situation last September.
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.
Quarter of ten.
I walked to the store in the rain this morning. It was warm, so I wore no jacket and just carried an umbrella. When I got there, Heather was very good to me as she always is. The other customer inside the place was talking about the price of the Sunday paper, which had gone up to five dollars… Before I left the house, I was brushing my teeth and I thought of the history of psychiatry, particularly Freud’s theory of what causes schizophrenia. He said it was repressed homosexual desires, but of course he didn’t know anything about genetics. So I said to myself that it makes no sense to psychologize the phenomenon of mental illness. I thought it was surprising that Freud was revived three years ago. But the run of my life since 2017 has been like a Hegelian process, dictated by history and politics. The motivation from within really comes from something bigger than the personal self. I’ve taken a ride on the carousel, deluded all the time that I was free and independent.
Even in time we shall control the day
When what you see
Deep inside the day’s controlling you and me
It’s an old Romantic idea, but I think it’s probably true what this lyric by Yes says. And yet if psychology is bogus, then how can philosophy and poetry be more accurate? I guess it’s better not to generalize human experience into abstracts…
Ten fifty. The weather forecast predicts rain this afternoon, and I have to go to Mike’s house at around two thirty. If all attempts at knowledge are futile, then life as a skeptic is rather difficult. We need to have faith in something, so it might as well be something that gives us pleasure.
Five twenty five.
Hard to believe it isn’t even summer yet. To me it feels like next autumn already. The climate has been very temperate lately except for a few days in the lower nineties. Right now the sun is just coming up. I hear the soundscape from “Close to the Edge” in my brain. It is curious how a lot of Americans disregard music from across the Atlantic, as if they didn’t understand it… I don’t know if I’ll call my sister this morning or not. It might be very uncomfortable for me if I did… I have problems with motivation, and also my body is giving out as I get older.
Quarter after seven. It has just begun to rain seriously. I got a few drops on me coming back from the store. Heather was super nice to me when I checked out. I had enough change in my raincoat pocket for a non comestible item, so she took my smaller coins and let me have my quarters. Also I got good news in my mailbox this morning. Probably I will avoid church this Sunday and just go to my band rehearsal in the afternoon. My sister said something pejorative about churchgoers who are not fundamentalist, or who don’t interpret the Bible literally, word for word. To her mind, these people are not really Christians. She doesn’t realize that she represents only one form of religious belief, and that others are equally valid.
Quarter after eight. I’ve decided not to call her this weekend… It’s different to see it dark and rainy here today; I kind of like it for a change. There’s such a disconnect between my mind and my body, and between thinking and acting: it’s almost too much to try to initiate a movement. It’s not a matter of laziness or anything moral like that at all… It looks like communication is reopening between America and the UK, if I’m not being too optimistic. And if I had the courage, I might do a Henry James for real and travel to the motherland at least for a holiday.
I slept the night through, but with some bizarre dreams. One of them was about trying to eat a mountainous burger and getting nowhere with it. Oh well. The squirrels are playing on the roof, their feet making a rapid little patter in the relative quiet. It is clear and sunny this morning, yet my spirits are rather subdued by a situation that is less than perfect. Partly it is a situation I created myself. It’s unfortunate that decisions can’t be made with 20/20 foresight. I feel like I don’t have very much energy lately. I think getting involved in music is always sort of risky. Now I have to figure out how to disentangle myself in order to be more secure. It makes me wonder about fate as opposed to free will. Perhaps fatalism is just an excuse when you don’t feel up to life.
And then you say
Even in time we shall control the day
When what you see
Deep inside the day’s controlling you and me…
As mist and sun are all the same
We look on as pawns of their game
They move to testify the day
Inside out, outside in…
Hold onto the wave
Quarter of nine. I’ve been to the market, but nothing is really new today. What is the basis for an idea like fate? To me it seems like resignation from making choices, as when Macbeth pulls in resolution and suspects foul play by the devil… Aesop is letting me know he’s ready for breakfast. To hell with it: I put myself in a bad position, so now it’s up to me what happens next.