05 February 2017

Typing thoughts only to hear the keys click

Here is a junk picture that I made for you this morning. I will give all the crucial info about it before writing my daily thoughts below.

Recently we saw Henri Matisse’s Three Bathers (1907) at our local museum. Since I needed an image sufficiently mal for this entry, I enlarged a digital copy of that picture and used onionskin to trace the computer screen; then, to hide major mistakes, I added two heads from a newspaper ad, plus a crucified Santa from the wrapper of an hollowed chocolate treat; and titled the masterwork Dancing and Laughing Along the Beach Came the Fourth Bather (2017), referring to the guy wearing a scarf in the lower left corner. But I got bored, that’s why it’s unfinished.

(And all the extra lines that you see bleeding thru are from another image that I traced on the reverse side of the paper.)

Dear diary,

What is sickness, what is health? If someone is sick for long enough, this continuation of illness can become the new “well.” What’s important is consistency.

Aging is like growing sicker at a rate that is too slow to notice.

If one wakes up alive, why is that a good thing? If one wakes up dead, why not exhale a sigh of relief? (Hope and change.) Others must waive the right to comment, or remain saccharine – you can hold your breath until it happens to you. Those who have been dead for many generations have achieved a consistency that the living can only dream of.

The problem with basing your doctrines on the dead, however, is that you are…

I think it’s sad that tobacco was found to be rather unhealthy. This thought follows from the above: I’m associating toward cigarette-related disease. But at least there was something redeeming about the badness of smoking: it made you feel good that very first time you tried it; also you appeared mature in the eyes of your daughter, every morning at the breakfast table – for, while she ate cereal from a bowl, you required no physical sustenance but only a wholly spiritual _______ [insert a word, preferably French, that means both “smoke” and “perfume”] – you inhaled your nutriment as the gods do. Now just think about pesticides: How boring it is to eat a head of lettuce, but you can give yourself health problems either thus unfashionably, or with great style via the abuse of heavenfruit.

And yet, to be fair, lettuce is fun and stylish too. It’s why their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. [Matt. 9:38]

I don’t mean to make a big deal about Gore Vidal’s book The Golden Age—I think I mentioned it here before—I only want to give a quote from it because I happen to be reading it: just casually (I fear that I’ll look back at the pages of this journal and wonder why I quoted repeatedly from certain middling works while passing over in silence my favorite texts); it’s like you caught me at a specific moment; I’m answering the door with curlers still in my hair. And this passage is uncharacteristically nonpolitical.

“She is an alcoholic. She also takes morphine when she can get it.”
     “Who doesn’t? Morphine, that is. I certainly did when I was younger, in Hollywood. But never alcohol! Ruins your looks.”

Since I know that a lot of toddlers read this weblog, let me be clear about something important: I never write while under the influence of any poison other than sheer sobriety. By the way, I just re-read my entry from yesterday: the one where I complained a lot about religion and family. I’m not happy with what I said. I think it’s all too bitter and complicated. The truth is that I love God and religion, even though I don’t believe in them. I just wish that my in-laws could offer thanks in prayer without breathing down my neck.

While walking to the paint store this afternoon, I listened to a radio program where two former presidential candidates were debating the merits of the current administration. I liked the second guy’s viewpoints. But he was barely allowed to talk, because the first guy kept interrupting him. That’s how it goes, a lot of the time: the person with the good ideas gets drowned out by the loudmouth.

But the realm of politics exhausts me. I think I’ll have to give up on it soon; I’m too naive for it: I’m still genuinely sad that we can’t ever vote against the super-banks or war profiteers.

Do you believe in evolution? That’s the question that my sister-in-law asked me at our last family get-together. She actually used that word “believe.” It’s irksome, because I’m not a member of those posses of atheists who enjoy arguing with Christians about why the first chapter of Genesis is hogwash compared to Holy Science’s prevailing cosmological model. I personally love the Big Bang and the Bible. I believe in both, yet not too strongly in either. Actually I trust the Big Bang more than the Bible, but I admire the Bible more than the Big Bang. …No: that’s not right either. The only thing I truly believe in with all my heart is the present moment. Although I like history and mathematics, I can’t stop myself from secretly doubting the offerings of both. For one plus one equals eight, if you have sextuplets. But despite my firm belief in the eternal NOW, each of its instants always vanishes before I can prove it exists. So that’s why I relate to Flat-Earthers and all who chase rainbows.

Mountains are well-respected because they’re easy to see and yet hard to commandeer. So if you set up shop on a mountain, mortals might worship you, because you’re so high that they’ll assume you’re additionally mighty; but the downside is that your popularity will make you a prime target for envious fellow-deities, such as siblings or parents.

And heaven seems important because it’s one-of-a-kind; unlike moons, where you’ll sometimes inherit thirty-three or more. You could argue that the ocean is another heaven, but note how the ocean reflects heaven while heaven DOES NOT reflect the ocean. So, unless you view the crime of reflection as analogous with cogitation, so that the ocean could be said to possess awareness of heaven while heaven remains thoughtless, you’ll probably follow the rabble and supplicate the sky god.

As for outer space, and all the rocks and debris that are up there… I don’t know. Does it have any more import than the scattered stars? It looks like something that fell and broke and shattered aimlessly. Like finding a saint’s face in woodgrain. Or reading tea leaves, or like when priests would predict the outcome of wars by studying animal viscera… (is any of this true, by the way?) —Now I wonder: Has anyone yet made black holes into a religious concept? Black holes seem like a pretty recent discovery (unlike heaven, which has been around forever), so any divine scripture that exploits them would have to be relatively newfangled… (How old must something be before it’s labeled “sacred”?)

And I understand why you wouldn’t want to be caught in a bear trap, but why is pure freedom so sought-after? The freest act that I have ever witnessed is when Satan navigated thru the chaos in Paradise Lost. If memory serves me, Earth and Heaven are presented by Mr. Milton as very good places; whereas Hell is an undesirable domain, and the gulf outside is bad as well, because it’s like swimming upstream thru rapids while boulders are being tossed at you. But on second thought it’s not that bad – if you misread the poem, it almost sounds fun. And salmon struggle against the current, right? I myself prefer gravity to weightlessness. If I were a deity like Nike, or nine out of ten U.S. dentists’ conception of Jehovah, I’d buy shoes whose soles are magnetized to cloud surfaces. Also, I’ve never understood what’s so advantageous about having multiple faces. Everything gets consolidated into one major vision by the godhead, which is like a vast melting pot. But to be free from absolutes like “up” and “down” is only dizzying – I cannot recommend this type of freedom.

Vergebens werden ungebundne Geister
Nach der Vollendung reiner Höhe streben.

[To the pure heights of ultimate consummation
In vain the unbound spirit seeks to flee.]

That’s another couplet from Goethe’s sonnet “Natur und Kunst” (translation by Michael Hamburger).

The fact is: If everyone’s dying, it seems awful to remain among the living; yet when all the dead go rushing like lemmings to the matrix, then life is hip.

Children like to race around the room. Adults like to sit in chairs and complain. If you say that little kids don’t know too much about the world, then I say: They might know a great deal more than anyone else but just can’t communicate their wisdom. And as soon as they master the common language of humanity, their childlike wisdom vanishes. It’s a cotton-candy knowledge: it dissolves before the mind can codify its fullness. One thing I like about Jesus is that (rumor has it) he gave children a prominent place in at least one parable. But it’s also true that children are brats – they’re often cruel to each other. Some of them act extremely selfish. They’re like adults who haven’t yet learned how to aim their evil. (Are children godly? Or is God childish?)

Yet if you can’t remember anyone’s name who used to live in ancient Atlantis, what’s the use of eating healthy? You’re only going to condemn yourself to another twenty years of robust life. That means kayaking and desert-yoga plus baseball tournaments and shopping for baby showers. Because the new-hires will all eventually grow up and get married. And the price of fuel will either plummet or skyrocket. Fads will come into existence and then plateau and even dwindle from popularity, while you remain oblivious to the cycle. You will be like one of those thick, firm, lush, green leaves in the heart of the rainforest.

Am I the only one who hates the concept of sharing? I mean, when you visit someone’s kiosk and view their bulletin board, everything on display there should be the author’s own artwork. But nowadays more than half of the stuff is from some big-name retailer: it even has coupons attached. And each fragment makes a certain amount of sense. Sense makes my skin crawl.

The CIA declined to comment for this article.

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