My New Diary, 10/25 to 10/27/2018

My New Diary, 10/25 to 10/27/2018

Copyright 2018 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{10/25/18}  Weight 221.2.

Went to Olive Garden yesterday with Pablo for a late lunch.  Which isn’t worth mentioning except that I’ve been wanting to go there for a good six months or more.

Woke at about 5:05 am, tried to get back to sleep for an hour.  Felt anxious for “no reason.”  This happens rather often, though I can’t say how often.  It never happens otherwise, during the day, only upon waking.


{10/26/18}  Weight 220.0.

There are certain questions, philosophical questions, which I return to again and again, like a dog with a favorite bone, gnawing at them repeatedly until nothing is left.  Which makes me sound like some kind of a great thinker, but that’s not what I mean.

Nagel book

Anyway, these questions include, “Who am I?”, “What is truth?”, and especially, “What is the meaning of life?”  Now, as I recently reread Thomas Nagel’s famous essay, “What is it like to be a bat?” [in Mortal Questions], I am motivated to consider, “What is it like to be me?”  I’ve been mulling this over for two or three days.  I’d like to say, “gnawing on it,” but perhaps a better bit of metaphor would be—keeping the dog and bone image—digging it up and burying it, repeatedly, without ever really attacking it.  What annoys me about Nagel’s essay is that he never addresses the question, “What is it like to be Thomas Nagel?” or even, “What is it like to be a person?”  The question haunts the essay.  (I’m not sure what that means, either, but I like it and want to leave it here.)

To proceed at once (or—“finally”?) to try to answer the question, “What is it like to be Alan Carl Nicoll?”  The obvious start is to question the depth of the question:  “Why, it’s obvious, I’m a human being.”  But if Nagel’s question is important, or at least nontrivial, then so is this, and it is not to be answered with a virtus dormativa, that is, a mere category or synonym.  But, it’s not clear how else this is to be answered; since I reject “essentialism,” I cannot be seeking “the essence of a human being,” or “the essence of Alan Carl Nicoll,” because I don’t believe that such a thing exists.  What kind of answer would that be, to provide “the essence”?  I mean, have we ever agreed on the essence of anything?  I don’t feel any confidence in considering quantum mechanics or, really, much of anything to do with physics, in regard to this question.  Perhaps a reader can advise me in this.

I have considered this question of essentialism fairly often, and on looking back in the dictated portion of the “Prison Diary,” I find relatively long pieces at 11/29/07 and 1/28/08.  I find them “good enough for now.”  Looking further reveals, in total, three pages of text which I am not going to recopy here—I’ll put together a blog post to treat the matter in some depth, adding it to this to make something a bit more readable than a diary entry.  [10/27/18:  This has yet to jell into an essay.  More Prison Diary entries may help, but they’re not in the computer yet.  So far, I’ve done only about 4% of the 1500 handwritten pages.  I feel like an archaeologist.]

So, if I can’t state “the essence of A.C.N.,” what can I say about what it is like to be me?

But now, Democracy Now! is on, and I want to watch it.


{10/27/18}  Weight 219.2.

The meeting with Pastafazool [not her real name!] yesterday was more than usually interesting, in that she told me a couple of things.  When I told her that I had been feeling anxiety and depression, and I attributed this at least in part to the world situation, she said she also felt this way and she had wanted to talk to me about it.  That is, I saw that she respected my intelligence and valued my opinion.

The outcome of our discussion of my life goal of making the world a better place through my writing, and specifically regarding my son and Kick Me, was that I understood that he deserved the chance to confront me, to talk to me about how he felt.  She was, I see now, considering him a victim of my actions—a view with which I agree.  But the point is that I owe it to him to contact him, even if I don’t want to.

Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor has again become available from Hamilton Booksellers, so I grabbed a copy, thus spending another $13.95 on books, bringing this month’s total to ninety-four bucks.  Ah, well.  [Link to Amazon]

I spent $40 at Barnes & Noble yesterday, too.  The major purchase was The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing [Amazon has it for $4.99, or $20 less than I paid!], the kind of thing I’ve been wanting since I looked at Amazon a couple of days ago regarding self-publishing there.  An unfortunate fact that I didn’t consider before plunking down the cash:  the book is from 2010.  Anyway, 550 pages that I’ll likely read very little of.  Hopefully, that little will be useful.  I might do better reading what’s available on Amazon, meaning, their free stuff.  Presumably, I’ll read all that in the months it will take me to get Kick Me:  A Lifetime of Humiliations ready for publication.

Another book I bought at B&N was How to Read Tarot, which shows no author on the cover or title page.  The copyright page shows that it “contains material adapted from” The Everything Tarot Book by Skye Alexander.  It was a hardcover for $7.98.

I’m no believer in tarot as a divination tool; its usefulness to me is limited or nonexistent, and may never amount to anything.  However, I do believe that random stimulation can lead to new ideas, or useful bits of old ideas, something like that.  So, about twenty years ago I designed a “cultural literacy tarot” with the idea both of using it and of publishing it.  I don’t believe that I’ve previously made the concept of a cultural literacy deck public, because it’s the sort of thing that anybody could throw together and publish and I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to make the big bucks.

Virtually all tarot decks are of limited usefulness unless one wants to study them, which generally means studying astrology, alchemy, mythology, classical symbolism, the Bible, and so on, most of which any reasonable person might balk at devoting precious hours to.   The point of this study is to allow the user to “interpret” or free-associate from the dealt card spread.  The more you know about the subject of each card, the richer your response can be.  Thus, if you design cards based on things “everybody knows,” you remove the necessity for study, and any study you pursue just increases your knowledge of modern culture.

Canned interpretations provided in books or with the decks tend to read like daily “horoscopes” or self-help advice.  In other words, not that great.

So tarot as it exists today is useless as a practical tool for intellectuals.  [Unless you already happen to be an expert in astrology, alchemy, etc., etc.]

My idea is to take cultural icons for the Major Arcana, and other bits of modern life as the other features, to remove the need for study and make richness of association readily available.  I settled on Marilyn Monroe, Henry Thoreau, Muhammad Ali, the Automobile, the Atom Bomb, Adolf Hitler, Laurel & Hardy, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, and so on, as the Major Arcana, as I tried to adapt my personal interests and existing knowledge to the standard structure of the tarot deck.

I did a lot of work on this, going so far as to read a couple of books about Queen Victoria and Marilyn Monroe and collecting books about the others, and writing extensively.  But I needed an artist to do the cards, and I never was able to locate one.

Alas and alack, my writing and all other possessions went into a black hole when I went to prison, including even my birth certificate and driver’s license.  So I must start from scratch if I want to design a tarot deck.  Do I want to design a tarot deck?  Yes and no; I want a tarot deck I can use, and this would be the way, it seems, unless I can find, say, a Simpsons Tarot Deck.  (I checked; it exists online as a concept  with crude artwork at but not as a product on Amazon.)  But the work on my own deck remains daunting.


Diary entries from 6/1 to 9/30 are available in this file:  link.
Diary entries from 10/1 on are available here:  link.

Copyright 2018 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All right reserved.

2 thoughts on “My New Diary, 10/25 to 10/27/2018

  1. All right. I read it but according to Amy Wallace, 10 AM to 2 PM is the time to write. It’s way past that. Amy Wallace is a character in the book I am writing. She flirts with me at the bookstore but some mysterious force prevents our “hooking up.” Then I find out that she is in a cult. Oh, Amy. You’re my soulmate. I was at the grocery store and they had Beanie Babies of Ash. She is my back up soulmate in case Amy doesn’t pan out.


    1. Apparently my brilliant diary entries made no impression on you, since all you can say in response is nonsense and talk about yourself.

      As usual after a comment from you, I had to Google something, this time “Beanie Babies Ash.” Turns out it’s a thing from “Sing,” which I’m assuming is a TV show or movie that was below my radar.

      Bottom line: your backup (one word) soul mate (two words) is a THING!


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