Diary, 6/23 to 6/27/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Princess Mononoke

{6/23/19}  Weight 223.0.

I was so keen to continue reading Walter Kaufmann:  The Faith of a Heretic this morning that I forgot about writing.

So.  I guess that I have what I’ll call for now a “soft commitment” to writing:  I’ll start each day with a diary entry, and what happens after that is my choice.  And I’ll continue to shun the daily news as long as I find it necessary for my, let’s say, emotional health.  As for “turning pro,” or “four hours a day,” and the other thoughts of the past week, I’m content for the moment to leave these possibilities on a back burner.  Perhaps I “should not” be so content, but what voice is saying that?  The answer that popped up as I typed the question was:  the voice that calls me to greatness.  Pish tosh.  The world has no need of “my greatness.”  The only need involved is an ego need, the little whining voice inside that says, “But I coulda been a contenda.”

Even as I think of saying, “The world doesn’t need more contenders,” etc., another voice pipes up:  “So you’re content to waste your gifts.”  No, I guess I’m not content, it’s probably accurate to say that I’ve never been content, with the possible exception of the time after I had decided that I wanted to be a novelist.  I quickly discovered that what I really wanted was to have the perks without doing the work.

Which is inaccurate.  I remember the late nights, typing away on my first, worst attempt at writing a novel, and pretty much doing that out of love for the idea of something or other.  But I could see that I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to get the results; so I did what I’ve always done, I read books.  I read, literally, a hundred books on how to write.  I made a big haul of books when a used book store went out of business and I bought at auction.  I didn’t count them, but what I remember is “two shelves.”

Now it’s Sunday morning and I have an hour to get ready for the Hemlock Club.  I’m going to present the 1½ pages of diary entry on “understanding music” that I wrote this week.

I could turn semi-pro.  That would be a commitment to following the Lamour method for two hours each morning, except Sunday, and allowing trike time as part of the two hours.  So I guess I’ll try that starting tomorrow.

But in looking back, I see that I had completely forgotten about the “soft commitment.”  I think that’s not good enough, which I more or less decided above but didn’t say.

I am greatly enjoying The Faith of a Heretic, but I’m skipping almost half the pages in the middle, Kaufmann’s arguments against religion.  I might possibly come back to that someday, though I really doubt it because I’m already a convinced atheist.  I no longer care about the arguments and don’t expect ever to need them.  I’m quite sick of the question.  [I.e., the question of whether it’s rational to believe in God.]

{6/24/19}  Weight 222.0.  The last time I weighed this little was ten days ago.

Had a long dream in which I was creating a story that I called “Sempiternal Death.”  It was about me living through the same year (or day) over and over again, as has been done in many movies, including some I’ve seen.  It starts with me finding a note from myself, on a dresser (not my actual room), telling me what I’ve learned.  Subsequently, I go to a friend’s place and hand him a sealed envelope.  He says, “What’s this?”

I say, “Open it.”

“What’s in it?”

“Open it.”

He opens it and reads:

“What’s this?”

“Open it.”

“What’s in it?”

“Open it.”

I then hand him a second envelope, and the same business.  Then a third envelope, but by this time he’s convinced, and he even knows what’s in the third envelope.

That’s as far as the dream went.  The curious thing is that I felt, in a way, both that I was living through the events I just described, and that I was writing a story, creating the events, then living them.  The “two dreams” were running in parallel, and waking came as a real surprise—I had thought I was awake, while I was dreaming.

So, today I’m starting my commitment:  two hours during which I don’t have to write, but can’t do anything else, unless it’s to ride the trike—as I’ve hemmed and hawed about over the last couple of days and diary entries.

During the Hemlock Club yesterday, Salomé sent me three text messages about wanting to participate via Skype.  I responded in two, but it was not to be.  I’ll write her an email today, explaining the difficulties.

Annoying coincidence:  I stopped reading The Faith of a Heretic because I wanted to skip the sections on religion, as described in yesterday’s entry, then I opened Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human to read it, but found that I had left off reading at the start of “Section Three:  Religious Life,” which I had little enthusiasm to start reading—the same issue I had with FoaH.  But it turned out that the Nietzsche was actually pretty interesting, so I read thirteen pages.  I’m still skipping that part of the Kaufmann.

So now I worked for an hour on Kick Me—to this extent, the soft commitment has paid off.  I discovered that I don’t like the Preface, but don’t yet know how to change it.  I reviewed and edited five pages.  But I still have 35 minutes of the two hours remaining.

This Hewlett-Packard laptop has on either side of the screen a thin strip of plastic that apparently is intended to keep the screen from pressing down on the keyboard.  One of those strips came loose some months ago, but has been kept in place by its stickiness.  Just now I found the strip on my thumb and replaced it, but clearly this is going to keep happening until it gets lost.  I suppose I could try regluing it, but am hesitant.  As usual, “I just want it fixed.”

When I’m “really hungry” I often feel nauseated, which is of course very unpleasant; feeling that way a few minutes ago, I ate a granola bar.  I now have 16 minutes to go and I’m “watching the clock.”

I wrote down somewhere that bedwetting is a “developmental delay,” but now I can’t find it (I used the term in KM).  I think that my experience of my penis differs substantially from that of most men.  Not just bedwetting, but daily masturbation, erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory incompetence, possibly botched circumcision, uncircumcision experiments, other gross things…perhaps I’ll cut this from the blog posting of today’s entry.  Perhaps not.  [As you can see, I’m including it.  I guess I can take it if you can.]

I took a look at a separate document, “Kick Me Notes,” and discovered that it’s not especially useful.  I’m not going to delete it, though.

Reading Stephen Jay Gould last night, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, I thought that I wasn’t really getting it.  I may have to reread part of it.  I also tried reading some more of American Philosophy and again was disappointed.  I want to hear about philosophy, not about his marital problems.  48 pages in.

Received the checks for my new checking account.  As anticipated, they were inaccurate, not showing my apartment number.  This is not worth stressing over, since I only write two checks a month.

And now my two hours are up, yay!

Between last night and this morning, I watched Princess Mononoke.  I had seen it maybe twenty years ago and remembered some things, but much of it was new.  It’s certainly a beautiful animated film, but the message and the morality are simplistic.  Indeed, much of the plot is obscure, the meaning of events is generally suggestive rather than causative.  But it’s got some excitement and some eye-popping visuals, though naturally not as visceral as, say, T2:  Judgment Day or Avengers:  Infinity War.  The major voice talents are mostly well-known actors/actresses.  I’ve enjoyed it both times that I’ve seen it, and I would recommend it to anyone above the age of, say, ten.  It’s an experience that’s worth two hours of a person’s life.

Going out for grocery shopping at 1:30 pm was a bad idea.  99° outside at 3:00.

John Kaag:  American Philosophy:  A Love Story is a big disappointment which I am abandoning after reading (with some skipping) Part I of III.  It’s too much Kaag, too little philosophy, despite the back-cover raves.  The chapter “on” Thoreau has a few of the usual quotes, and Kaag relates Thoreau’s “Walking” to his own walking, but meh and double-meh.  Apparently my fave [Meaning Thoreau] is not part of the “love story.”  Also, the author comes across as a lying weakling, which didn’t help, deceiving people (including his wife) unnecessarily.  The “Selected Bibliography and Suggested Reading,” which might have been useful to his presumably general-reader audience, absurdly does not separate the two functions, and so lists Principia Mathematica, pointlessly.  It’s just a bibliography, mistitled; and why on earth would one “select” that title for inclusion?  Am I unfair?  I don’t think so:  Kaag failed to interest me, despite having a low-grade focus on my favorite area of philosophy, is how I see it.

{6/25/19}  Weight 221.2, my lowest weight in a month.  Dehydration, but I’ll take it.

After an hour’s work on Kick Me and the usual irritations with my left eye, I’m ready to call it a day with my soft commitment, though I haven’t done anything else yet.  It’s interesting that when I got started I went right to the hard work rather than writing in the diary.  But this revisiting of my early childhood tends to be depressing or some other kind of a downer.  “A Memoir of Blunders, Humiliations, and Crimes,” the current subtitle, I suppose is explanation enough.

I don’t recall exactly when I got up, but it was 5:00 or some minutes after.  I can fudge things a bit and call it “five o’clock,” thus allowing me to knock off at 7:00.  Perhaps I won’t, but I’m in the “do nothing” stage because I have nothing to say.  Maybe I’ll take a look at my old novels, or at least the Fynn novel, as a way of “writing without writing,” i.e., bending the rules of my soft commitment.  It would be “working on writing” without writing—I’m content with that.

If I wanted to work on the Fynn novel, I’d have to type it; it’s only in handwritten form now.  But I’m more inclined to take a nap.  The one allowed alternative is riding the trike.  <shudder>  If I were still living in the mobile home in Frazier Park, I could just go for a walk in the pine forest, perhaps even going up the steep hill.  That’s the only kind of exercise I ever do “voluntarily.”  The difficulties of trying to move to where I could have such an environment are well beyond the limits of the possible for fat ‘n’ lazy me.  Which is kinda tragic…to live where exercise is easy and fun, nothing could be better for my health (not to mention getting out of Bakersfield’s air pollution).  The alternative—in other words, my fate—is to continue my slow decline.

If I wanted to make that fantastic dream happen, I’d have to start by getting a car.  I’ve had some resistance to that because I’m afraid that it would eliminate the only exercise I do get regularly:  walking to and from bus stops.

My last “fantastic dream” was to buy a tricycle and use it to ride everywhere in Bakersfield.  We know how that turned out.

Self-mastery, where is thy sting?

If I were to buy a car, it would have to be with the understanding that I would not act as chauffer for a certain somebody who has no apparent reluctance about asking people for favors.  Nor would the car be available for loans.  I can see that coming up again and again:  he needs to buy dog food (50 lb. bag), he is out somewhere and the buses have stopped running, he wants to visit his ailing mother, he was supposed to meet somebody and he’s late, yada yada.  It would be a constant irritant.  It would be impossible to maintain, I’d have to give him up as a friend or relent and drive him around.  I suppose of the two, the latter is less distasteful.

Ice cream cookie sandwich for breakfast?  Really?  After that chocolate cake last night?

{6/26/19}  Weight 221.6.

Payday at last.  About an hour of work on KM, now I’m at Dagny’s.

And I’ve already spent $114 on books, CDs, and DVDs, with more to come.  This is crazy, right?  After $300 last month?  Well, I took a look at portable air conditioners again on Amazon, and have decided, no.  What’s available just doesn’t look worth a try, at least not under $450.  The ratings and reviews are marginal and horrible, respectively.  So I have more money for those “oh-so-necessary” books.  While I am suffering from the heat, I haven’t tried the low-tech options available, like having a wet cloth constantly at hand.

What books?  Well, since I’m currently very enthusiastic about Walter Kaufmann’s The Faith of a Heretic, I bought more WK.  But I’ll wait until they arrive to count noses.

The Democratic debate is more annoying than informative, for fifteen minutes.  And it’s out of control.  Candidates are just jumping in and talking, wrecking the whole structure.  And maybe that’s good, because the initial structure felt claustrophobic.  I liked Elizabeth Warren going in, and I liked her coming out.  I turned it off after 45 minutes.

Nothing to interest me either in Corigliano:  Symphony No. 1.

I blew it at Dagny’s today, neglecting to post to the blog.  Maybe tomorrow, since I arranged with Pablo to go to Barnes & Noble.  I have a gift card and 20% off coupons.

{6/27/19}  Weight 222.0.  Bouncing back.

An uninspired morning.  I had dreams, but at this point all is forgotten and I’ve lost much of my enthusiasm for recording them.  That will be rekindled when I have a good dream.

Watched and rejected two movies on DVD in an hour.  The rejects:  Death Tunnel, and Deadline.  The latter, with Brittany Murphy, was far more interesting, yet seemed full of trite situations, and ominous music that led to nothing at all.  I wanted to like it, given that Thora Birch (of Ghost World that I love) was also in it, but ’twas not to be.  Death Tunnel was “shot, edited, and directed” by the same guy, which for a horror flick is usually the kiss of death, and was in this case.  Pretentious, confusing (about four timelines running concurrently and flashbackly), unsavory, joyless, stupid; the actresses were pretty but had little to do.  In other words, standard fare for cheesy horror.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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