Diary, 9/1 to 9/8/19

Camren Bicondova of Gotham TV series

{9/2/19}  Weight 222.4.  Later, 222.0.

Hemlock Club yesterday was interesting, in that I met Jazz Garcia and a new guy, Jeremy, at Dagny’s.  They weren’t there for the HC, but we got into Taoism (Jeremy had a copy of Lao Tze) and Crime and Punishment, Jazz doing most of the talking.

I also saw Donna and said something outrageous like, “You and I should have a long conversation some time because I’ve had a dream about you.”  She laughed, and it went no further.  Why does she interest me?  Three things:  she’s of appropriate age, she seems to spend her time at Dagny’s writing and not much else, and she doesn’t use makeup.  I’d have done well, perhaps, not to drop my bon mot and walk away, but rather to have stayed with her.

Pablo and I went to Del Taco and had an interesting experience in that a strange woman talked to us, uninvited, several times, but at enough distance that I caught only about half her words.  She said something about the weather and I said it was going to be about a hundred; she asked about a business across the street and I said I knew nothing about it; and she said something about Del Taco.  She gave an impression of hovering about us at a distance.  In general, I was discouraging by unresponsiveness, and Pablo said even less to her than I did.  Finally, on the way out I said goodbye.  She deserved a better return on such pluck.  She was modestly attractive (i.e., looked clean and without a grotesque body type), friendly and smiling, so it’s clear that I was missing an opportunity here, but her behavior was also unsettling (i.e., immodest).  I was more attracted than repelled.  When I first saw her, entering the restaurant and smiling, seemingly at me, I thought her a friendly young woman; as I looked closer, I saw peculiarities, as though she had once been obese and had lost a lot of weight, and was older than she looked, and the hair color suggested more youth than was genuine, or even appropriate.  I don’t mean to focus solely on her appearance, but that’s most of what I had to work with.  What might I have done differently?  Easy.  Go to her table and ask what she had said, leaving Pablo behind, and carry on from there.  Would I have wanted to do that, if I’d thought of it?  It’s conceivable.  Of course, he’s much better looking than I am, so she was more likely interested in him.

Donna I’m likely to see again; this other woman, probably not.  My shyness continues to keep me from making the most of my chances.  How many years can I continue to do that?  Always I err on the side of caution; I’d perhaps do better to wear my neediness on my sleeve.  Indeed, could I do worse?  Would I not do well to emulate her?  Cruise fast food restaurants looking for unescorted women, and talk to them from a distance?  My gonads shrivel at the thought.  Yet, when I am out and alone, I would do well to keep that mind-set at the ready, so to speak, rather than burying myself alive in yet another unimportant book.

I won the Scrabble game, though J kept it close.  We had a lot of challenges back and forth.  I played “acer” and lost on the challenge.

I have surprisingly little interest this morning in Pathfinder.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time reading in a book in German, Studien und Plaudereien by Stern.  I’m on page 46.  It presents dialogues between a teacher and four students.  It’s just easy enough that I can read it without using the dictionary much (there are no glosses), and it’s just interesting enough to keep me going, so far.  It’s printed in fraktur, which I consider a big plus, and it shows handwritten examples, too.  The book itself apparently was written in 1895 and recopyrighted 1907, though my copy could be from the thirties or forties or later.

{9/3/19}  Weight 222.0.

Well, I ended up finally getting moderately hooked on Gotham, so I watched sixteen or seventeen episodes of Season 1 yesterday to finish it, since it has to go back today.  The future Catwoman—Camren Bicondova is the actress—was for me almost the main attraction, her face is so compellingly beautiful.  I wasn’t happy with the changes to her role in the last couple of episodes.  Bruce Wayne got more interesting as well.  As the shows added up, Jim Gordon became more appealing, and by the end I was enjoying the whole thing.  But I also got tired of this business of “another episode, another murderer” as well as “another episode, another betrayal by The Penguin.”  It was good to see Carol Kane again, though her character was a dismal caricature.  I got very tired of Fish Mooney, though she got more interesting after the big change in her situation.  I’m trying to avoid spoilers here or I would be more specific.

I have to go to the library today, but I won’t be getting more Gotham unless I can’t find anything that I want to watch more.

Had a long conversation with Pablo yesterday, some of which might have been productive, but I don’t have the heart to go into it in detail.  As briefly as possible, I’ll say that at the HC on Sunday, when new acquaintance Jeremy gave his name to Pablo and J, neither one responded with his name.  Hoping to interest Jeremy in the HC, I was not willing to let this rude behavior pass unchallenged, so I jumped into their conversation to provide the missing names, while chastising the miscreants.  So yesterday Pablo complained about my behavior (which he had already done on Sunday), I complained about his, and we both saw something in the other’s point of view—one hopes.  The rest of the eighty-minute talk was mostly the usual nonsense.

The “be here now” idea urges one to focus on the task at hand, whatever it is, such as eating breakfast.  I much prefer to watch TV during meals at home—when you have the same thing for breakfast every day, it’s expecting a lot to ask me to focus on what I’m eating.  Of course, I don’t have to eat the same thing every day, but I have zero interest in cooking.  And, of course, I could “be here now” while cooking, too, but I guess I’m just not “spiritual” enough for that—breakfast is just a chore to be gotten out of the way, though I do enjoy the food, routine though it is.  Unsurprisingly, I have no desire to change anything in these habits.  The main reason I mention all this is because, having finished with Gotham, I have nothing to watch during breakfast except whatever I can find on cable—which ordinarily would be news, and likely will be when Democracy Now comes on at eight.  So maybe I won’t have to spend a whole ten minutes in boredom-with-food.

I could read instead, and sometimes do, but now I won’t.  I also used to watch/listen to Great Courses discs, but those are all used up.

{9/4/19}  Weight 221.6.

My latest diet thinking is to buy a rotisserie chicken and eat that for dinner or “dinner” because chicken [i.e., without skin] is a “low-calorie” meat compared to my more usual and labor-intensive cheeseburger.  Though lately I’ve eaten few cheeseburgers, mainly because I have snacked so much for my midday snack that I’ve had little or no dinner at all (my “Cheetos diet”).  Yesterday, for instance, I was facing a 20+ minute wait for the bus at Food Maxx, so I got a chocolate shake from the Wienerschnitzel across the street, not because I was hungry, but because it was hot and I just generally wanted it.  So for “dinner” I had just chicken and potato chips.  I typically make four meals out of a chicken and end up throwing away the less-desirable parts like wings and often thighs.  There’s nothing wrong with thighs except that they generally work out to be messier than the parts that I eat, so I leave them for last and after four days they’re usually just unappealing.

Got the first season of Heroes from the library and watched the first episode last night.  I found it quite confusing because there seems to be about six plots going at once, and of course with all faces unfamiliar.  Nothing particularly grabbed me; the best of a rather average lot seemed to me the Japanese guy who wants to bend space and time, and the Indian taxi driver who is following patterns in the human mutations that are the concept of the series.  The taxi driver has a world map with pins and strings as a tracking device; I was puzzled by the strings, but it occurs to me now that when a subject moves from place to place, that’s indicated by a string linking the two locations.  The concept is rather too reminiscent of X-men origin stories.

My Pathfinder enthusiasm is ebbing, primarily because the Core Rulebook is rather overwhelmingly detailed and complex.  I ordered a book from B&N which should have come in, but they haven’t called me like they’re supposed to.  Seems like I’ve run into this ball-dropping before from them.  I’ll call them today.

So, The Letter was mailed yesterday.  Hoping for the best.

Watched a second and part of a third episode of Heroes before abandoning it forever.  Too many of the plots were just not very interesting, and were often annoying.  In addition, it seemed to be aimed at teenagers.  I’d like to see what happens with the Japanese guy and his friend, but meh.

Finished reading the Churchland [Conscience].  It’s good, useful, but not particularly exciting or startling.  Basically an update on the neurobiology of conscience.  Some good quotes, but I don’t feel like bothering with those tonight.

Started Martin Seligman’s Flourish, from 2011, updating his research into happiness and the like.  In this one he doesn’t beat around the bush at all in the opening, which pleases me very much—too many authors seem to think that they need to tell personal stories to interest readers, while I’m more interested in just getting the theory and the facts to support it.  So Seligman repudiates his previous theory of happiness, and goes beyond it.  Stay tuned.  It looks, however, like I’ll be most interested in the early chapters and not much in the rest.

{9/5/19}  Weight 222.2.

Watched Repo Man, a weird and amusing thing which I’d just as soon have missed.  One thing it did impress on me:  the L. A. River, a mile from where I grew up, has to be the ugliest river in the world.

Another day used up.  I ate “dinner” around 3 pm at the Black Bear Diner, having salmon and cream of potato soup for twenty bucks.  It was good.  The dessert menu was tempting, but it showed the calorie totals for each, so the only item I would have considered (today) was a scoop of chocolate ice cream.  I passed, and got an ice cream sandwich at a liquor store before going to my group meeting.

Told the group about the Letter and the Pathfinder group and even the Donna bon mot.  Eh.

Books arrived from Thriftbooks today, so I read Maslow on the bus.  The others were a Rorty (Consequences of Pragmatism) and Dorothy Allison’s Skin, which I read about twenty years ago and liked, of course.

I was prepared to take a taxi home, but when it came down to it, I decided to run for the bus, two long blocks, and ended up wishing I’d made the other choice.  Next time I probably will.  [I did catch the bus, however.]

{9/6/19}  Weight 223.4.

A dream:  A Star Trek Voyager episode in which an away-team beams down to a planet of apparently-friendly “humans”; when they leave, one man is left behind.  Subsequent attempts to beam him up or communicate with him are blocked.  A shuttlecraft is to fly down; Captain Janeway wants to go with, but the Vulcan officer argues that if it comes to a fight, they want their best weapon aboard the ship (meaning her).  The speculation is that “they may have realized that our ship could destroy their entire fleet, or could slice their planet to pieces,” which of course doesn’t make sense.  That’s it.

Surprisingly, it seems that I slept straight through, eight hours, last night, which is very unusual for me these days.  Indeed, I recall waking up and turning off the fan, but I didn’t get up.  I didn’t have a nap yesterday, presumably a factor.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Voyager episode—like fifteen or twenty years, I suppose—so I was unsure of names and such except for Janeway.  And I was never really a fan of the series.  I considered it seriously disappointing that during the first season, Janeway acquired a spirit-animal-guide early on, and it was never mentioned again (or at least, never consulted again).  I was disappointed because I thought that this acquisition showed a real openness to a tradition that interested me and I wanted to see more.

Barnes & Noble didn’t have the book I ordered last Friday.  Today is again Friday.  Whenever I order from them, it always takes longer than they predict.  Still, there’s no real hurry, though it is a Pathfinder book.  Some kind of adventure, or so I judged it by the title.  I worry that they might go out of business, which would not be inappropriate given their cutbacks of staff—the store is frankly a mess, given how bookstores used to be; that is, their shelves are disorganized and getting worse, and help is often hard to find.  If the store closes, it would be a real blow to Bakersfield.

{9/7/19}  Weight 223.0.

Dream fragments:  a tiny baby deer running; a woman who refused to indicate her gender on a form.  That’s all.

Maslow:  Toward a Psychology of Being is fascinating and important.

But I am dull this morning.

Later (1:10 pm).  It’s weird how I can doze off, have a dream start immediately, then wake up, and do this over and over, like three times in three minutes it seems, and each time a completely different dream.  What does this mean, if anything?  I had a nap earlier, perhaps an hour, or I’d just go to bed.  Last night was fairly terrible, sleepwise, with frequent awakenings to urinate, then back to sleep or not—I got up some time around midnight and was up for two hours, I think, finally getting up after 7:00.

Then grocery shopping before breakfast, unnecessarily.  Wanting to get refined sugar out of my diet, I bought and ate a few pecan halves (tasteless) and dried apricots as I waited for the bus, then at home with an overripe banana, granola bar, orange juice, a few more apricots, a few potato chips, and finally a yogurt and a second, smaller granola bar.  After the nap I had tremendous gas which I am at a loss to explain, other than “weird breakfast.”

In the news, apparently the military is going along with Trump’s grifting, routing flights to his advantage, and blocking house requests for documents.  Meanwhile, Trump continues nonsensically to defend his nonsensical statements about hurricane Dorian, including the infamous hand-modified hurricane track map.  These things really are shocking, seemingly an order of magnitude beyond the “usual” shocks and nonsense.  Also, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take a vote on impeachment, finally.  I rarely talk about Trump here because it’s too depressing, too disgusting, or something, but these seemed worth noting.

Though I have to wonder that I consider these stories “worth noting” while civilization’s doom approaches and my health and fitness seem to be in decline.

{9/8/19}  Weight 222.0.

Reading Maslow and being suddenly dissatisfied with his increasingly vague concept of “peak experience.”  I want to consider my experiences that might fit:

First came the day when I was walking down the street and felt a sudden, unexplainable feeling of joy which lasted perhaps a minute or two.  I thought of it later as “all my fears were gone.”

Then was a sensation of perceiving “an ocean within.”  I thought of it later as a vision of the unconscious mind, that is, my conscious mind having an unusual—indeed, never repeated—view of the vast whirrings of the normally invisible machinery.

Then came “the perfect moment.”  I was driving on the freeway listening to Kate Bush and had the thought, “What a perfect moment this is!”  I found subsequently that saying or thinking the sentence led to a seeking within the environment of some perfection, and always finding it, and having this perfection to then focus on, and regenerate the feeling of happiness…something like that.

Then one time I was lying on the sofa, listening to Puccini (possibly “opera without words”) while reading Thoreau—probably Walden—and being overwhelmed with happiness and sort of thinking that I could not be happier than I was at that moment, and life was perfect.

So, those are the few experiences that I think might count as “peak experiences.”  I find it very difficult to fit these into the words of Maslow in Towards a Psychology of Being, and especially the long chapter 6, “Cognition of Being in the Peak-Experiences,” p. 71ff.  Two of these, the first and last above, were memorable (obviously), but seemingly had no subsequent effects.  The other two, the “ocean within” and “the perfect moment technique” had lingering value and possibly changed my thinking permanently in ways that seem very difficult to characterize.

I have had other memorable experiences that might also be considered, notably the time at the Getty Museum when I spent a full five minutes looking at van Gogh’s “Irises” and having the feeling that the more I looked, the more I could see.  I remember that I had given this painting the glance that I was giving everything, was about to move on, then stopped myself and forced myself to give the painting the attention it deserved, with the result being as I have described it.  What I saw in the painting I never put into words, and perhaps such things can not be put into words.  Afterwards I often thought of it as “my favorite painting,” but that’s silly.

A quote from Abraham Maslow:  Toward a Psychology of Being, Second Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1962-68:

“In the state of B-love (for the Being of the other person or object), I have found a particular kind of cognition for which my knowledge of psychology had not prepared me but which I have since seen well described by certain writers on esthetics, religion, and philosophy.  This I shall call Cognition of Being, or for short, B-cognition.  This is in contrast to cognition organized by the deficiency needs of the individual, which I shall call D-cognition.  The B-lover is able to perceive realities in the beloved to which others are blind, i.e., he can be more acutely and penetratingly perceptive.

“This chapter is an attempt to generalize in a single description some of these basic cognitive happenings in the B-love experience, the parental experience, the mystic, or oceanic, or nature experience, the aesthetic perception, the creative moment, the therapeutic or intellectual insight, the orgasmic experience, certain forms of athletic fulfillment, etc.  These and other moments of highest happiness and fulfillment I shall call the peak-experiences.”  p. 73.

The second paragraph here hints at what I am troubled by:  do all these experiences have anything in common, other than being “memorable”?  His “B-love” seems to require an object, which might be a person.  My “ocean within” and “Thoreau-Puccini” experiences don’t seem to—the latter, which has “two objects,” apparently, is different in that “the experience” had, seemingly, little or nothing to do with the book and the music in the sense that I had new perceptions of them.  There was no perception of “realities in the beloved to which others are blind,” unlike my “Irises” experience, perhaps.

I am in no position to draw firm conclusions about any of this, nor is that necessary; it’s just that I’m having doubts about Maslow’s key concept that I had not previously had.  Probably, I’ve never considered it critically before.  And, of course, this chapter is nowhere near Maslow’s last word on self-actualization.


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