Bleak Philosophy: Diary 5/1 to 5/3/21

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Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet

{5/1/21}  Weight 210.6 at 6:50 am.  Naughty boy, you didn’t make a dookie for Mommy.  Compared to 4/26/21, when I weighed 214.4, I’m doing great.  All I had for lunch was a 320-calorie apple pie, and for dinner, a baked potato. [Result, a 0.8 pound gain.]

Watched DeMille’s Union Pacific last night, a Hollywood biopic of a railroad.  A cast of thousands, complete with love triangle, not one but two train wrecks, Oscar-nominated special effects, and lots of Hollywood indians, what’s not to love?  Well, I didn’t love it or hate it, so let’s call it a “meh.”  At least I was spared a DeMille voice-over.

Seven pages of dictation, which reminded me of a not-terrible short story I wrote, “No-See-Um,” that I’ll want to post on the blog.

Spent about ninety minutes watching Marvel videos on YouTube and half-listening to a podcast by writer Deborah Tannen.  [A specialist in conversational patterns.] Such things can eat up my day, seemingly; I consider my writing more important, but do I really if I don’t want to do it?  I am too ruled by moods; but my constant dieting tends to eat up my “willpower budget” (as described by Kelly McGonigal in The Willpower Instinct).

This “dieting” consists of not bingeing and not snacking much and not overeating and shopping sensibly—not really a diet.  Lunch tends to be a snack; today I had two (or was it three?) chocolate macaroons (90 calories each, low sodium, so a better choice than the little fruit pies I had the last couple of days, 320 calories, high fat).  But I’ve cut out all` chips and pizzas because of sodium, and frozen bean & cheese burritos will probably go the same way; frozen taquitos are just as good and have lower sodium.

This morning I had Ezekiel bread instead of my usual Dave’s Killer Bread, but in checking just now I see that I got the wrong Ezekiel—I’d intended the zero sodium type, but this has 70 mg per slice (compared to Dave’s 170/slice—but Ezekiel is much wimpier and makes horrible toast).  If I lose all sodium from the bread, I can indulge in pizza again, or otherwise.  I am not following orders in this, just being more cautious after having that “stable angina” attack.

So if I want to use my willpower tricks to get more writing done (i.e., any writing done other than the diary), what should I be doing that I’m not doing?

Maybe I should just say fuck it for now—I’ve got bigger fish to fry in writing letters to the medical people sending me bills, and to Social Security to get them straightened out (again), and my monthly report to probation, yada yada.  These are the undeniably important things that I’ve been neglecting; my writing is really just a hobby at this point, damn it.  And therapy, sort of.

{5/2/21}  Weight 211.0 at 4:45 am.

I quickly abandoned Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones because it didn’t address my needs; sadly, I’ve already forgotten what it did address, unless it was just pushing “freewriting”—I already know about that.  I gave up the book about four days ago..

I’m giving Kick Me to Nog today at the Hemlock Club meeting.  I was thinking last night that it might change people’s view of their fellows, because it is an uncommonly honest view inside the swamp of one man’s head.  I don’t know many people who would want to read it, primarily because I don’t know many people, and I already gave Pablo a copy—years ago.  I think Nog is likely to praise it—perhaps too generously, not wanting to hurt my feelings.  The worst conceivable reaction?  That he doesn’t want to read it.  I can understand hating it, feeling that it’s a book more likely to do harm than good, or that it’s disorganized and lacks focus (both true to a degree).  We’ll see.

Now, about [my son]—I really don’t want to spend the money for a private detective!  It practically amounts to a choice between finding him and buying a car.  Buying a car would be a really, really big deal in my life.  I think that finding [my son] is likely to lead either to heartbreak or nothing much, in the sense that we will maintain a relatively cool and infrequent relationship (which seems the most likely outcome).  I guess there’s really no point in considering this further—I need to find him and meet him once to find out how he feels.  That he will want me permanently and frequently in his life seems inconceivable, but it is the outcome I want very much.  I will take steps tomorrow, cost be damned.

It’s conceivable, of course, that he will spit venom or refuse to have any contact with me.  It’s no more than I deserve, unfortunately.

I just checked the spelling of “recipe.”  It is a word that has always given me trouble, meaning the spelling.  In part this is my porous and failing memory.  Well, I guess the “in part” there is wrong—it’s not a hard word, it’s just that I want to put an “i” between the “p” and “e.”  Seeing this, I’m guessing that I’ve solved the problem—because I finally looked at it, thought about it, instead of always checking and immediately moving on.  Of course there’s a larger life lesson here, but, as Edmund says in King Lear, “Fut.”

Because this account included my @NicollWTF in a tweet this morning, my “notifications” blew up (“20+”) and I picked up seven or eight new follows.  I tried to nudge the attention over to my blog, we’ll see what happens.  It’s currently at 98 followers. [It did nothing]

{5/3/21}  Weight 212.2 at 5:20 am.

I deny myself much and much, and still I gain weight.  Had a big lemonade at the HC meeting yesterday, was otherwise sensible, and I gain 1.2 pounds?!  Well, another week to try and try and whine about it.  The good news is that the next HC meeting is set for my place, so I won’t be tempted to get out of the weight-loss rut.  I weighed 207.4 on January 1st.  I can’t relax.  It’s not impossible that my meds are to blame, too. [The gain was apparently due to water retention, because I lose the entire gain by next morning.]

After meeting the guys at the mall food court for a few hours, we came to my place to watch a DVD, ended up with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.  It’s a modern-day flashy musical version with about half the text of the play.  The stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes go well together.  A good time was had by all, though it’s hardly an ideal R&J, being more Luhrmann than Shakespeare in flavor and there’s a pervasive sense of fantasy and playfulness that blunts the tragedy.

The 5/2/21 Hemlock Club meeting was somewhat centered on Pablo’s Ramadan fasting, Islam, and his “choosing to believe” in some God or other.  I asked “why is truth important,” wanting to lead into discussion of “matter is mostly empty space” and how the definition of “solidity of matter” relates one’s goals: is the table “mostly empty space” if you want to walk over there (i.e., you can’t walk through it) or if you want to measure cosmic rays (i.e., you can ignore it).  In a conversation about the “solidity of the table,” what’s important isn’t the truth of the matter, a very contentious subject, but rather why you ask—the contemplated action determines the meaning of the concept.  This segued into talk about words and “In the beginning was the word,” etc.

Other topics included:  the Toltec “four agreements,” Nog’s rickshaw, Johnny Ramos’s Modern Gigi gallery, Nog’s silver spoon (which was only plated), whether I toss out the baby with the bathwater when rejecting belief in e.g., Yogananda’s miracles, The Godfather and Navajo godfathers, Drunvalo Melchizedek: The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life Workshop, how Taco Bell links Salomé and Zena in Pablo’s seeking synchronicity, and Nog’s procrastination and “mind traps.”

Quips:  “If I weren’t full of myself, what would I be full of?” (Alan) and “Once you think you’ve got humility, you don’t” (Nog).

Depression again today, and I can’t afford it—I have much to do that won’t be any fun.  The procrastinator has his back against the wall.  But this “depression” is not real, because I’ve already washed dishes twice this morning (before and after breakfast), as well as writing up the Hemlock Club meeting.  Perhaps “dread” is a more accurate word.  I’m going to start with a nap.

“… not the mere fact of living is to be desired, but the art of living in the contemplation of great things.”  Bertrand Russell, “The Study of Mathematics,” in Mysticism and Logic, Doubleday and Company, New York, 1917-1957, p. 54.  Upon reading this, I made some notes:  Great things in a bleak world?  Whence this bad mood and what is to be done?  Dogged determination?  List what’s on your plate.  Do the most urgent, most unpleasant thing first.

I feel strange.

I called my philosophy “bleak” because it is based on three main conclusions:  there is no God, “free will” is not what you think, and life is meaningless in any objective sense.  These conclusions likely will appear bleak to anyone who believes in “free will,” a loving God, and a meaningful life.  In other words, it’s not a philosophy of pessimism, cynicism, stoicism, or anything tending toward depression—it might be called a philosophy of refusing to be soothed and deceived by a superficial, “feel-good” Christian-based culture and “smiley faces.”

My belief in pragmatism and critical rationalism (as described by Richard Rorty, William James, Karl Popper, W. W. Bartley, III, Julian Baggini, and others) as an approach to difficult, important questions defines my atheism; neuroscience and Daniel Dennett’s books have convinced me that free will does not exist as normally thought of; and Thomas Nagel’s essay “Subjective and Objective” and other writings persuade me that “the meaning of life” is a question poorly-understood by most people and that any meanings in human life are, and can only be, opinions.

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