Diary, 8/11 to 8/17/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Pathfinder{8/11/19}  Weight 221.8.

Hemlock Club today.  Since Pablo is in San Jose, it may totally fizzle.  Hoping that J is out of jail and will show up.

Reading Robert Brandom:  Rorty and His Critics yesterday and finding it very tough because I lack background.  I just haven’t read Habermas, Davidson, any of the philosophers relevant to the discussion, except Dennett.  In other words, it’s over my head.  I expect that some of the articles will be easier.

I’ve been neglecting the German reading somewhat—I’m still only three pages in.  My enthusiasm has mostly cooled, but I don’t plan to give it up just yet.

I finally finished watching The Vietnam War, a ten-disc thing from Ken Burns and PBS.  It’s pretty straight history, in other words, not radical at all, though it’s very watchable and I got very weepy while watching yesterday, which was a bit annoying.  I don’t recall an overall conclusion about why we got into that war and stayed there so long, aside from the anti-communism angle.  Nothing about what was driving the domestic politics, i.e., class war.  I should see if I can find anything from Chomsky about it, and take a look at Zinn’s history again.

Both Zinn and Chomsky mention both anti-communism and resources (tin and rubber, mostly).  But Chomsky starts his book with this quote from John K. Firbank:  “Our fear of Communism, partly as an expression of our general fear of the future…”  (Noam Chomsky:  At War with Asia, AK Press, Edinburgh and Oakland, 1969-2005, p. 1.)  In the margin at this point I wrote, “U.S. is like a paranoid old miser. = the Kochs?”  I was inspired by Firbank’s “our general fear of the future,” and I think that this is right.  Being fearful of losing our massive economic advantages in 1945, we had to gain and keep control.  Chomsky, in many places, speaks of the “vile maxim” of our masters, “everything for us and nothing for anyone else,” essentially.  Anything that challenges that rule must be destroyed.  Hence anti-communism, anti-labor, anti-democracy.

J did show up at the HC today.  He had been kept in jail because he had missed court appointments in his ongoing legal troubles with CSUB.  We didn’t have much of a “Hemlocky” discussion, just a bit about the Vietnam war and the Chomsky book I was carrying.  He said he doesn’t generally read Chomsky because he agrees with him on everything.  Well, that’s why I read him, though I didn’t say that.

Wondering, now, just how I am to “fly high.”  I watched the rest of Terminator:  Genisys, which I started late last night, which is not “flying high.”

Listening to Sibelius:  Symphony No. 4.

I suppose that I think of “flying high” as achieving goals at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, i.e., self-actualization or community service, depending on which Maslow you prefer.  Wherein is my self-actualization?

Writing, of course.  Edifying and educational reading, I suppose.  Exercising creativity, i.e., other than writing, like finally doing that self portrait I’ve been wanting to do.

Morita Therapy advises, “do what needs doing.”  In my case, that would be housework.  Is housework self-actualizing?  Is housework flying high?  Do I have any excuse for not doing housework?  Yes, it’s called “housework be damned.”  Housework is not my goal, it’s other people’s goal.  It’s society’s goal for me.  I say this even though I value accomplished housework and it generally makes me feel better when I’ve done it.

The Sibelius disc (disk?  I have never made up my mind about this) has moved on to the tone poem, The Swan of Tuonela.  Sibelius is so placid as to be boring, though I used to like his Symphony No. 2.  And Finlandia is actually pretty moving, if you think about it being played against the wishes of the Nazis, and think of it as a political statement against Nazi rule.  I don’t know if the latter is accurate, I’m just assuming, but that’s what it sounds like:  a battle, followed by a patriotic theme.

The Swan is getting more vigorous about six minutes in.  Finlandia, it turns out, was composed in 1899, perhaps a statement against Russia.

Symphony No. 5 starts off more promisingly.  Speaking of the Nazis, this two-disc set has Von Karajan conducting.  That bit of perhaps-unnecessary history doesn’t seem to be mentioned in my one-volume Classical Music Encyclopedia.  The article in my World Book Encyclopedia is longer, but also doesn’t mention it.  Looks like I’ll have to check it online, if I care that much.  (I don’t.)

I have a cluttered living room.  To my right is my desk, which currently is serving as a supplemental bookshelf, but it also has a tall stack of CDs for which I have no sensible shelf space, a pile of papers maybe four inches thick of first drafts of novels and other work that might be wanted some time, six pill bottles, about half a dozen used post-it notes in need of a home, four remote controls, other odds and ends, and more books and papers lying flat on top of the books.  Also to my right is a table that holds my printer, and a few things on top of it (mirror, pencil cup, books, etc.) that I have to clear off when I want to print.

To my left is a TV tray that I use as an end table, which is put to good use with a desktop organizer, a box of tissues, a glass of water, and a wire basket that is my “keep this at hand at all times” container that I take from living room to bedroom and back, as needed.  More to my front is my red wheeled stack of three shelves which is the “catch all” for things which could hardly go elsewhere, mostly stuff I’m likely to need when I go out, plus the Videohound’s Golden Movie Retriever and library DVDs.

So, briefly, if I want to reduce clutter, I need to decide what to do with all the CDs and post-it notes.  I could be more severe with my books, but the books don’t bother me, even the ones on top of the printer.  The CDs could go on the living room bookshelf which has an under-utilized top shelf (I don’t want to cover up the drawings on the wall—but CDs wouldn’t cover them).  The post-it notes could go into an envelope and into the desktop organizer on the TV tray; or even without an envelope.  That would still leave the stack of papers and the remotes.  The papers, which I removed from the red cart, could go somewhere in the bedroom if I had anywhere in the bedroom to put them, other than the “files,” which also needs work.  I recently bought a small hanging-file box which is on the floor in the living room and is pretty full of papers that also used to be in the red cart.  That was a good move, because I add to this file a few times a week, mostly with catalogs from Hamilton.  The papers on the desk might well go there, but it’s already full…and a second box would be excessive.  I don’t even like having the one box on the floor.  More papers in a large whatchamacallit like an oversized envelope, under the desk, along with the three-hole punch, computer cords, and part of the file box.  The papers and the hole punch could be moved out without causing me too much grief.  Not previously mentioned is the ottoman in front of me, whereon rest my bare feet and my laptop; inside is the lap desk, copy-holder for typing, printer paper, a light throw (a word recently acquired along with a second throw that I use as a blanket in the bedroom), and notebook folders.  Not clutter, in other words.

The Sibelius Fifth is ending well, with stormy-sounding stuff.  But no, it fades out, placid, wimpy.  I like my thud-and-blunder endings, like Tchaikovsky’s, or bleak or angry endings, like Shostakovich.  But I think Sibelius’s Fifth is worth further tries.

And now it’s 7:40.  Seventy-five minutes of short pieces by Sir Arnold Bax?  Oy veh.  We’ll see how long I can take this.  It starts with a fifteen-minute Festival Overture, which already feels exhausting.  After two minutes I’m skipping ahead to Christmas Eve, almost eighteen minutes, with organ.  We’ll see.

Okay, I gathered the eighteen post-it notes and clipped them to the outside of the organizer, unread; other bits of paper were discarded or are sitting on the TV tray, awaiting further handling (they go into the organizer).  That leaves the stacks of CDs…

Which I handled as suggested above, plus the papers and stuff under the desk have been removed and stashed in the bedroom, not necessarily well-stashed, however.  Additional stuff removed, too (books).  So the desk is about as good as I can make it at present, ditto the TV tray and printer.  Woo hoo.

{8/12/19}  Weight 223.0.  Yow.  Life is a bitter pill.

The last CD last night was the best:  I Musici playing pieces for string orchestra by Martin, Hindemith, Roussel, Nielsen, Bartok, and Britten.  I see that Bartók is correct, and my bio dictionary shows his first name as Béla.  I like to get these things right, but, whatever.

“Martin” is Frank Martin, 1890-1974; his piece on the disc is Etudes for String Orchestra, and it was an exciting piece with elements of jazz, written in the ‘50s.  It came as a pleasant surprise, as his is the only name of the six that I didn’t recognize.  Hindemith and Bartók I have long favored; Britten and Nielsen less so; of Roussel I had one cassette tape that I seldom played (twenty years ago), so, meh.  My reactions to the pieces on this disc were much the same, except for Britten’s Simple Symphony, which I love but already have at least one copy of.

Can I “fly high” for two hours each morning, to replace my “soft commitment” to write?  Have I ever flown high?  Shall I compare my flying with that of others?  Shall I rate my worth as a human being?  These questions make me uncomfortable and I am inclined to dismiss them.  I am more inclined to criticize the questions than attempt to answer them.  I believe that they are impossible to answer fairly—I cannot judge myself as posterity will judge me, nor, indeed, as anyone else would judge me.  This is mere foolishness.  I have done good things and bad things, as human beings are known to do.  These days I do more good than bad.  So, enough.

Coincidentally, I find on my laptop a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre which is directly relevant to the last paragraph.  Here’s part of it:

“…our intolerable human condition; we are at once self-caused and without foundation.  As a consequence, we are not a judge of what happens to us but because everything that happens to us can only happen because of us and hence it becomes our responsibility.”  Then:

“…the lamentable poverty of religious thought resulted in reinforcing my atheism.  Faith is silly or it is in bad faith….  Lacking faith, I have limited myself to giving up on seriousness.

So, what speaks to me here is the pairing of “responsibility” and “we are not a judge.”  What is responsibility without judgment?  Only either “good faith” or “bad faith.”

Well, this is a lot less clear than I’d hoped.  I think that the bottom line is that my questions in the paragraph above are, indeed, “mere foolishness.”  I cannot judge myself, yet I would reject the judgment of anyone who is not important to me, in other words, almost the whole world (in this context).

But I think yesterday I defined “flying high” as doing things that can be called “self-actualization.”  It seems that my thinking yesterday is of more use than my thinking so far today.

So I had a 20% discount from Barnes & Noble that applied to everything I bought—so I spent $82 there today, getting five books.  I would have preferred to wait on this, but the discount expired 8/22, so there it is.

{8/13/19}  Weight 222.4.

Getting up three times during the night to pee resulted in multiple opportunities to record dreams.  The only one I recall now, at 5:50 AM, is of a reddish-brown long-haired dog swimming in a bathtub.  This is of interest only because we had a cocker spaniel named “Rusty” when I was five years old in Chicago.  Thus, Rusty is likely my iconic “dog.”

I thought long and hard yesterday about book purchases.  I seriously wanted to get some Pathfinder books, both for their inherent interest and because I have long contemplated writing a novel and running a campaign based on Pathfinder druid characters.  I will never run that campaign, now; the novel would not sell enough to make it worth my time; so I didn’t get the books.  Yet these desires remain.  I first got these ideas about four years ago, while I was still at TI.  I could have run the campaign, then; but I got rather lukewarm enthusiasm from the likely players, so I didn’t pursue it.  It’s a lot of work to put together an original campaign, about as much work as writing a novel, and possibly a good deal more, depending on one’s dedication and such.

The last campaign I ran was based on a published campaign book.  I’d like to describe it in detail, but, eh.  There were some clever bits that succeeded well and I smile as I remember one or two.  There was a recurring character, a runaway princess in disguise, that I illustrated with a picture of Michelle Trachtenberg from Maxim magazine (showing lots of cleavage); she approached one of the party of adventurers (three or four inmate-friends), stole his belt pouch, then dove in the river and swam away.  This was at the very start of the adventure.  It was also probably the highlight of the whole campaign.  I had to rush the pace, having the characters advance two levels where they would ordinarily advance one, and that on the fast-track advancement schedule.

Those were the good old days of prison life.  Add to that the weekly writing group meetings (four dedicated writers) and the Axis and Allies and Settlers of Catan games—I’ll never have such a social life again, and indeed, had not previously except for the really good old days with the gang.

So here’s what I bought:

  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Simon Blackburn: On Truth
  • Natasha Lennard: Being Numerous:  Essays on Non-Fascist Life
  • Patricia Churchland: Conscience:  The Origins of Moral Intuition
  • Martin Hägglund: This Life:  Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom

I have two full shelves of poetry books that I seldom make use of, so the Dickinson might be questioned, though I’ve been wanting it for years and was always put off by the $35 price.  This time I had a 20% off everything deal, in addition to the 10% member discount, so I went ahead.  The other books are, I suppose, worthy enough.  The only author I’ve read before of these, aside from Dickinson, is Churchland; I read her Touching a Nerve, which was mostly a nay-saying of cognitive science theories that I couldn’t disagree with, but I don’t think it changed any of my beliefs.  But my impression is that she’s an important author, and more than usually readable in a difficult field.

The VideoHound lets me down again, giving 2½ bones to Needful Things, one of the best of the movie versions of a Stephen King novel.  Enough black humor and bloody violence for a Coen brothers flic.  Reliable Ed Harris does some magnificent scenery-chewing.  Well worth seeing if it appeals at all.

Unearthly beauty Nastassja Kinski, I see, has entered middle age with good looks reminiscent of Greer Garson.  Seeing her was the sole reason I turned on An American Rhapsody, from 2001.  It turns out that Scarlett Johansson is in it, too, but I’m doubtful.

{8/14/19}  Weight 221.2.

Thinking back about the inmates with whom I spent many hours playing Pathfinder, all is in a fog.  I remember Perry Smith well enough, but the others are a blur.  As for the writing group, Solomon Kinzie was the one I liked best, and I remember J.R. well.  But who was the fourth?  My mind is a complete blank.  Then there was the guy whose novel I read and despised, who argued with my lengthy written critique—his name escapes me.  Many others who were important to me at the time, I can remember details and something of their appearance, but their names escape me.  This was only three years ago.

I would have been happy to write to these friends, to send them money or books or whatever I could, but all was verboten by the powers that rule my life.

I can remember Peter Gullerud’s name, from twenty years ago, one who never meant much to me, and with whom I spent much less time—why not these others, whose loss I regret more?  Clearly, my ability to form new memories had deteriorated.  This is expected as a result of aging, of course; but it is still annoying.

I should go for a walk.

Well, that was a joyless twenty minutes.  Bakersfield is deficient in trash pickup and sidewalks.  I went less than half as far as I had hoped and intended, but I just didn’t feel right—my body was a dumb thing to be whipped into action.  My feet were sluggish, my ankles questionable, my gait lurched sideways often, and the sun was, as Thoreau says, “too warm a friend.”  I’ll never make that mistake again.

There are two forms of hunger:  “mouth hunger” and “stomach hunger.”  What I am calling “mouth hunger” is what otherwise-useless “Dr. Phil” of TV called, maybe thirty years ago, “Wanting a party in your mouth.”  This is not real hunger, it’s just the desire to be eating, for the pleasure of eating.  I am persuaded that if one wishes to lose weight, it is essential to eat only in response to stomach hunger—the real hunger that twists your stomach into metaphorical knots, the real hunger that can make you feel quite nauseated, temporarily.

I ate breakfast this morning, my usual large breakfast of three eggs, cheese, two hefty slices of bread, a “medium banana,” and a glass of orange juice.  After that I had a “frozen dairy dessert” of a faux ice cream sandwich.  After that the party continued with four—or was it six?—chocolate chip cookies.  Because of that overindulgence, I hope to skip lunch altogether, and wait on dinner until the stomach hunger drives me to it.

I have yet to learn, however, to resist the lure of mouth hunger.  So, we’ll see.

“Resistance” is probably the wrong way to think of it.  Distraction is more likely to work than teeth-grinding resistance, I presume.  Or maybe I should just get out of the house, as I’ve been pondering on a low level for more than an hour.

So I went to the library to buy books, return DVDs, and pick up another one:  Vampyr, by Carl Theodor Dreyer.  It’s from 1932 or something.

I well remember that Thoreau advises eating one meal a day, “if it be needful.”  The correct quote is, “Simplify, simplify.  Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.”

I tried it once, and actually managed to go a day without breakfast or lunch, and it was easy enough.  But I have no desire to try it again.  Some days, now, I have a very light lunch, and once in a while no lunch at all.  But that’s as close as I hope to come to Henry’s advice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s also about as close as he got.  Given that he often worked as a “day laborer,” one wonders what kind of meal that “one” would be.

The Panicky Monkey’s Guide to Life—a book I would like to write, if I could do my own cartoons.  Though I have in mind only one joke:  “If it won’t go, try to force it.  2)  If you can’t force it, hammer it.  3)  Get a bigger hammer.”  “Panicky monkeys” is how I referred to my fellow Americans, at least once.

Often, lately, I have wondered and even concluded that my brain isn’t working as well as it used to.  Only once, however, have I ever had the sensation that I was getting smarter—when I was taking ‘cello lessons.  Conclusion:  I need to do something significant in the way of learning something new, to help slow or reverse this seeming-decline.  I’m thinking that something radically new would be best; not another musical instrument or another new language, but dance lessons.  I’ve been thinking about this for possible social benefits; if it would be good for cognition, so much the better.  In a sense, it’s a “no brainer.”

Golf is another possibility, but for that I’d want a partner, and I have none on the horizon.  It wouldn’t hurt to spend some time on art, too; something I keep thinking about, but rarely trying.

{8/15/19}  Weight 221.2.

Dreams:  I was in an office where I was new on the job.  I asked a man, “Is you name ‘Robin’ or ‘Robert’?”  He answered evasively, perhaps saying, “Maybe.”  I thought this was disrespectful.  Later I looked into a large container, perhaps for trash, and in the bottom there was a sheet of paper which was raised from the floor of the container.  I removed the sheet of paper and found a stack of business envelopes, about four inches tall, and all the same:  the flap open, and a square piece of paper inserted but sticking out.  The small piece of paper was something like a contest entry.  I was unable to decide why these envelopes were in this box.  Was I supposed to distribute them?  Was I supposed to take one?  Was I supposed to take enough for my department?

Later, I was answering questions on a touch screen like an ATM machine.  The first question was whether I remembered the man’s name.  All the questions were very difficult and I don’t think I was able to answer any of them.  I learned that the man was called “Rob,” possibly from this quiz.  I believe that this angered me.  That’s all I remember.

Aside from obvious concerns about my failing memory, I see nothing here to interpret.

I wonder how it is possible that I can remember many details about some of the men I knew in prison, including even their appearance, yet cannot remember their names.  I have a photograph of me with five inmate friends; I can remember only one name, Perry Smith.  I can remember one man’s nickname, “Homeschool,” but not his real name.  One man, not pictured, was named Jeff, the big ex-marine fool, and I know that his last name was commonly used as a first name.  Somewhere I have written a list of all the inmates I could remember, but I haven’t been able to find it yet.  I also wrote a list of those who came to my “going away party.”  Of the cellies/bunkies/best friends I had, I can remember Vic Boucher, Daniel (Danny) Frashier, and Micheal [sic] Pettenger; hard to recover was the one who left prison, was a “deadhead,” and committed suicide, or so we heard, Mike Burns.  There was “J.R.” whose name I think was John Roberts (he never told anyone) in the writing group.  There was the crazy old man, much hated, who wore two hats and taught a calculus class, a paradigm of bad teaching.  I remember Solomon Tekle well enough, and Dan “lil Dan” McCahan, who is the only coworker I can remember.  But the photograph is truly frustrating, as some of these were also Pathfinder buddies.  I can’t remember the librarian.  One of my C.O. bosses was DeLeon, but I can’t remember the one I had longer.  I can’t remember the inmate who interpreted very well my most symbolic dream, nor the friend who introduced us (he sent Burns a thousand dollars); nor the one I gave novels to read (he loved Lonesome Dove but couldn’t get into The Brothers Karamazov)—possibly his last name was Taylor—yeah, Ron Taylor; he died about three months after getting out of prison, and I wrote a letter to his wife.  There was Jesse LeBoeuf, who threatened me and others; he got in a fight and was shipped out.  There was Mike Austin, a minor chess friend.  I can’t remember my chess opponents, not even my nemesis, nor the one who retaught me Chinese chess.

Perhaps I remember more than I thought I could, and maybe I give up too easily on some, and some names can certainly be recovered from my prison diary; but the loss of Pathfinder/photo buddies is still very troubling.  If I had the list of names, would they jog my memory?  Could I match them to the faces?  Only one way to find out.

Well, the ones who meant the most to me are the ones I can remember easily; most of the ones who I can’t remember were “useful” as bodies for games, but I felt no particular warmth towards them.

{8/16/19}  Weight 223.2.  Grrr.

I am very pleased with Martin Häaglund: This Life:  Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom.  I’ve only read a few pages of the “Introduction,” but already the author has clarified for me things I’ve long believed only intuitively and inarticulately.  That is, “secular faith,” as he defines it, is essentially the recognition of the finitude of one’s life, and why that is essential to understand in the right way.  Briefly, death is what makes life valuable and sweet.

I am very displeased with Target:  I used their website to switch over their “red card” from my old account to my new account.  Somehow, this information was lost—my fault or theirs I cannot, of course, verify at this point.  But the bottom line is they get about $52 of my money, for nothing.  For the 5% discount I’m getting by use of their card, it will take $1040 of purchases to recover that $52.  Yeah, ain’t gonna happen.

I’m also quite annoyed with the toilet paper holder I got as part of bathroom accessories from Wal-Mart a year or two ago.  The brackets have plastic inserts, into which the roller goes.  These are loose in the brackets, which means that every time I need to replace the TP roll, these inserts will fall out and eventually get lost.  Of course, I can try gluing them in place, but gluing plastic (nylon or neoprene, I’m guessing) to metal generally works very poorly.  [8/18/19: Mounting tape was just the ticket.]  I could just throw them away, and let the roller rattle around in the brackets, or I could replace them with cardboard, which should glue in well enough, but these “solutions” suck.  Well, you get what you pay for, sometimes; and sometimes, you get less.

While I’m whining, I suppose I could mention MS Word’s very annoying bugs.  Paste some text into a document and you will occasionally get free brackets around that text.  These brackets apparently cannot be removed, though I’m thinking that repasting the text as “keep text only” might fix the problem.  I have not checked to see whether these brackets only appear on the screen, or if they will also appear in hardcopy.  There are other gripes about Word, of course, but I’m stuck with it because the MacBook’s Pages has deficiencies “I can’t live with.” [cough-macros]

Leoš Janáček’s Jenufa sounds like a great opera, though I’m listening to a very deficient recording, without libretto, made via “air check” in 1949, discs that I acquired from the library when I bought those ~50 discs last month.  It would perhaps be worth buying a better copy, but I’m in no hurry.  I have a lot of opera that I never listen to.  I’ve never listened to Verdi’s Rigoletto that I’ve had for more than a year.  I’m working on my second time through Furtwängler’s Ring, recently acquired.

It’s a horrible world we’ve built to bring babies into.

It’s too hot to do anything.  I’m listening to Sibelius:  Symphony No. 6.  I like how it starts, but I want stronger distraction, like a Marvel movie.  I’ve been eating nothing but junk today, breakfast and afternoon snack (i.e., lunch):  chocolate chip cookies and potato chips and diet soda, with the slight aberrations of a modest glass of orange juice and a banana that I didn’t quite finish.

Frances Weaver:  The Girls with the Grandmother Faces, Midlife Musings, Saratoga Springs, NY, 1987-1992, has this:  “The fabric of American life began to disintegrate with the disappearance of the front porch.”  (p. 11)  There’s something very true in this picture of life before everyone became a loner.

But, lest I be overcome with nostalgia for a life I never lived, I need to recall that my mother grew to despise and shun—or so it seemed—the people I called aunts, uncles, and cousins.  My mother and stepfather became a kind of loner couple; when they went on vacations, it was on cruise ships, with strangers.  When I was young, Christmases were large gatherings, with distant relatives put up in various bedrooms (I remember spending at least one night in the garage on cots with my brother and two cousins, and loving the novelty of it).  These became one-evening or one-morning occasions for mother, stepfather, two sons, and, on rare occasions, the wife of one son or another, with an increasingly-begrudged family meal which finally became a restaurant excursion.  The conversation was minimal, and generally became nonexistent when the TV went on.

And we never had a front porch.

“In this country today among people over 65, fully 80 percent of the men are married, more than half of the women of their age group are widowed and most of us live alone.  Only one man in eight lives alone.”  (p. 21)

I don’t plan to read this book, because it has already bored me a few times in just browsing it to cherry-pick the above quotes.  But I’ll keep it on the shelf for a while.  It’s about how one woman coped with widowhood and found a new life (I’m half-guessing here).

{8/17/19}  Weight 222.0.

Dream about Iron Man flying up to a teenaged boy piloting a helicopter; his faceplate retracts, revealing a very disheveled Tony Stark wearing a black eyepatch.  The rest is too chaotic to reconstruct, though I remember a child morphing rapidly through many different looks.

Watched Marvel’s The Avengers last night, a movie I’ve seen many times but still enjoy greatly.  Also yesterday I watched two episodes of Terminator:  The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  I had plenty of time because I stayed home all day, both to avoid spending money and to stay out of the 103° or more heat.  Also, I was up until 10:30.

I started rereading Chris Harman:  A People’s History of the World and a few pages of The Faerie Queen.  Which makes five books I’m reading, though the Natasha Lennard was neglected yesterday.

My diet yesterday does not bear thinking about.  I was bingeing, actually, which makes this morning’s weight a pleasant surprise.

Pablo complains that I don’t respect his opinion, or perhaps indeed that I don’t respect him.  It’s true that I see him as essentially a frivolous person, though he does read some good, serious books—currently The Brothers Karamazov and Franny and Zooey (about which I am presuming, since I take Salinger to be a serious writer).

Well, how serious am I?  Much of the time, not very.  Perhaps any comparison is pointless, and any such assessment must be foolish.  In other words, I sense much rationalization here, and not much value.  We both fail to take care of business from time to time, and suffer as a result, and I am in no position to judge who is the bigger fool.

Yet there is an important difference.  I find Pablo credulous, even gullible, seemingly incapable of critical thinking, and happy to be so.  For example, he claims to make decisions based on “signs” that are given to him by the universe, such as coincidences and the flights of birds.  As with many things, I cannot tell how serious he is about this—certainly, it doesn’t matter much how one decides which book to read next, but if he decides serious questions in such a way, is that respectable?  I notice that he hasn’t mentioned the I Ching for several weeks; he went through a phase of that.

Also, the Eleanor Roosevelt quote—which I completely agree with—marks him as having a small mind:  “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  (I don’t have a source; I found this quote on the internet, but it’s not in Bartlett’s and it’s not in Carolyn Warner’s Treasury of Women’s Quotations, which has eighteen from E.R.)

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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