2021 Wrapup: Diary, 12/2 to 12/29/21

Many dreams, movies, and books; my CO2 invention; HC and mysticism; reading Austen’s Emma; Henry Miller quotes; Arthur Koestler; bell hooks; XR; writing tools; McAfee woes; self-mastery; Family Guy binge.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Henry Miller (1891-1980)

{12/2/21}  Weight 211.4 at 6:20 am.

Started watching the Doran Godwin version of Emma, a miniseries from the 1970s.  Godwin is definitely less charming than Garai, though it’s a long series and I’ve only seen two episodes of the fourteen or so.  I definitely prefer this version’s Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley.

{12/7/21}  Weight 210.0 at 5:40 am.

Taoism and pragmatism do not mix.  My conclusion.

Spent ninety minutes yesterday reading about neuroscience in two used books I bought.  What did I learn?  That I needed to start at page one again, and that’s okay.  But I might need to read some biochemistry and neurobiology also, and I don’t see that happening—but I recognize that the reading I did in Cells while in prison has been valuable in understanding Neuroscience.  I think it was the structural proteins and the proteins that caused movement of actin fibers that helped me understand something I was reading.  Alas, Thriftbooks doesn’t have Cells; but I don’t think I want to buy more books right now.

This morning I spent an hour trying to find something to watch on TV.  What did I learn?  That Stephanie Miller has rats in her house.  The best hour of my day, wasted.  I shouldn’t start the day with TV.

Reading Jane Austen’s Emma and realizing that I’ve never seen this character before.  She (Emma, and presumably Austen) is exquisitely class-conscious, that is, she’s a snob, but she’s also oblivious to the injustice that is the foundation of her wealth.

I’m also reading True Grit, by Charles Portis, and continuing with Will Durant’s The Age of Greece.  And I started on Richard Rorty’s introduction to his anthology, The Linguistic Turn, which I’ve started any number of times previously and never gotten anywhere with.  At least I now have a good handle on what the term means.

Time for breakfast.

{12/9/21}  Weight 212.0 at 5:55 am.  Catastrophe.

“Trilusa” and “Spring Avenue Chamber of Sacrifices”—hypnagogic hallucinations or inspirations this morning.  The first came in the form of Pablo’s voice, softly spoken outside.  “Trilusa” gets 2,610 results on Google, “Trilussa” many more.

{12/12/21}  Weight 210.2 at 6:35 am.

Busy mornings.  First it was my writer’s group on Friday, then Hemlock Club on Saturday, and today a breakfast with TC, et al.  This keeps me from doing other, “more important” things, like writing in this diary—not that I need encouragement lately to neglect it.

For about a week I’ve been having erratic electric power to my bedroom.  Given the pattern of how this happens, I suspect that a neighbor is using some kind of machine that draws a lot of power, like an arc welder or a big power saw.  Unfortunately, I’ve lost my Internet connection.  Since this didn’t happen immediately, it’s likely that the provider detected my interruptions and shut down my connection; if that’s the case, then putting the router and whatever on a different circuit should allow me to get service restored.  Alas, this requires running an extension cord through the living room to the bathroom.

Watched Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, a movie I had seen before and not loved as much as perhaps it deserves.  I got the DVDs cheap at a library sale.  It’s passable fantasy with fair special effects, but I thought Brazil more amusing.

Looking for my comment, “Like water, I cannot be compressed,” I found an interesting section of my diary from 2007 that I called (at the time) “an excursion into mysticism and metaphysics.”  I’ve printed this part out for distribution to the HC, but it’s inconclusive and perhaps, as I said at the time, nothing more than an elaborate restatement that “the map is not the territory.”  But since discussing Russell’s “Mysticism and Logic” a few weeks ago, the group has been on a mysticism kick.  I tried selecting just the mysticism-related quotes from the “A-List,” but didn’t think much of the results.

Reading Jane Austen’s Emma, I am struck by the thought that it is a very limited, even claustrophobic, environment that the protagonist inhabits.  The worlds of Dickens, in contrast, are full of action and movement.  Emma may be the worst of Austen’s lot in this respect.  One suspects that this difference reflects, more or less accurately, the lives of the respective authors.  Of course, my knowledge of those lives is exceedingly limited.

Unable to get my Wi-fi working, even with a call to Spectrum.  It’s after nine pm, I’ll try again tomorrow.

{12/14/21}  Weight 211.4 at 7:00 am.

Since 12/7, when I complained about having wasted the best hour of the day, I have avoided morning TV, except yesterday, when I returned to my previous habit.  I like it better to avoid the TV because it gets more reading done.  No writing, however.  Yesterday I wanted to continue the dictation of Hap, but could not because the app now requires an Internet connection.  A technician is supposed to arrive today to fix mine.

Very windy last night.  Now I’m going to read Neuroscience.

Quotes from Henry Miller:  Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, A New Directions Book, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, 1962:

“…new epithets will have to be coined to describe my bad taste.”  p. vii.

“What we don’t want to face, what we don’t want to hear or listen to, whether it be nonsense, treason or sacrilege, are precisely the things we must give heed to.  Even the idiot may have a message for us.  Maybe I am one of those idiots.  But I will have my say.”  p. x.

From “When I Reach for My Revolver”:  “We [Americans] behave, to the great disgust and dismay of the European, as if we were the Chosen People.”  p. 53.  And, “…I do fear that the heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty will be dealt by this country, in the failure of its example on the earth.”  That success or failure hangs in the balance even as I type today.

{12/16/21}  Weight 210.0 at 5:50 am.

Had a dream of a church congregation pouring applesauce on their heads or otherwise covering their head and shoulders with applesauce.  As I woke or neared waking, I speculated why this might have been done, what their leader might have said to them, and I concluded with, “Turn to the person next to you and eat their applesauce.”  One woman had just a touch of applesauce on her nose, but most used the whole can.

Still reading Neuroscience.  Also reading and likely to finish Emma and Arthur Koestler:  The Ghost in the Machine.  Giving up on “bell hooks”:  Sisters of the Yam:  Black Women and Self-recovery, which I read to about page 65 (of 194), and which I thought nothing special, probably since I’ve been reading black authors all my life, though never intensively.  I’d have done better to read James Baldwin or George Jackson, perhaps.  I have another of hooks’s, Black Looks, and four others “segregated” on the shelf in a section with Native American, feminism, Gestalt Therapy, and the Philosophy in the Twentieth Century anthology, plus a few Baldwin in another area.

Entries from the current page of my “BB Journal”:

  • Read:  Aristophanes:  The Clouds.  Take notes.
  • Extinction Rebellion are who I should be supporting!  Or at least start learning more about them.
  • The Subjective Microscope trains the unconscious.
  • Every “and” you write is an opportunity to replace it with a stronger connection.
  • Writing Tools:  Joke patterns, tasty words, suffixes, subjective microscope; Ideas #139…; notebooks (BuJo), Good Mornings, creativity books, character names, figures of speech, critical thinking.
  • Kevin Rudd on Rupert Murdoch (“a cancer”)

Regarding XR, I’ve ordered two books by cofounders.  Writing Tools is a book I might try to get published.  “Suffixes” is the idea that one can make jokes or nicknames or whatever by adding “-esque” or “-ish,” etc., to someone’s name, but I have nowhere to look up a list of these.  “O-Matic” is perhaps the funniest I’ve come up with. [Not meaning that it’s original with me; I remember the SNL “Bass-o-matic.”]

Library book sale today.  I keep thinking, “I don’t have to get much” and coming home with a full bag.

Pablo gave me Kaufmann’s Ancient Philosophy anthology, which I had previously given to him.  For some reason I wanted it, I suppose because I’m still reading Durant’s Life of Greece—and still entertained by it, though the stuff on Greek art was pretty dull.  One failing of the book is that while you’re reading, there’s no indication in the text of what illustrations are included; though on the plates, the text is referenced.  I’ve seen the illustrations many times over the decades, so the eye is dull.

As am I this early morning.  I’m going to read Neuroscience.

Oh, one last thing:  while I was typing, McAfee pops up with “your information is on the dark web…”  I was unable to connect to their data, however, possibly because of the other McAfee popup that asks, for the ten thousandth time, for permission for Edge to access the internet.  I need to disable that, but I never want to bother; so I am bothered endlessly.  McAfee is stupid, but since I’m subscribed and am too lazy to bother changing things, because “everything takes forever”…you get the idea.  I’m just another spoiled American (a redundancy).

Managing my preferred pens seems to be “a full-time job.”

{12/18/21}  Weight 210.8 at 6:30 am.

Watched last night and quite enjoyed Circle of Two (1980), a May-December romance between Richard Burton (!) and Tatum O’Neal.  The dialogue, alas, is generally weak, though each of the stars has at least one good speech.  Their first meeting is frankly inconceivable.  The chemistry between them is very good, and each are believable enough in their “impossible” passions, raising this to a three-star movie (out of four) for me.  Otherwise, it’s a meh in that the music, settings, scenery, and costumes are run-of-the-mill.  I’ll give the novel a try if it’s conveniently available.  Rotten Tomatoes has only two critics’ reviews, both splats; the audience rating is a dismal 32%.

{12/20/21}  Weight 211.4 at 7:00 am.

Called in to the Thom Hartmann show and was put on the air.  I told Thom about my idea that a chemical could be included in air filters that would extract carbon dioxide from the air.  He said it sounded like a good idea.  I’m afraid, however, that it’s obvious enough that somebody has thought of it, tried it, and gave it up.  Or maybe it’s patented and some corporation is sitting on it.  But let’s be optimistic for once and hope that some idle chemist decides to take it on as a project.

Have given up on Koestler’s Ghost in the Machine.  It was quite fascinating for about the first half; then he tried pushing his theories about hierarchies and evolution and so on, further than I thought sensible.  I skimmed the rest of the book but found no reason to keep on with it.

I’ve been sort of dithering—nothing new there—but it took a while to settle on Nick Lane:  The Vital Question:  Energy, Evolution and the Origins of Complex Life.  Pretty interesting so far, and it gave me an update on the ideas and career of Lynn Margulis.  Alas, she died in 2011.  I thoroughly enjoyed and was impressed by her and Dorion (sp?) Sagan’s book, Microcosmos, I think.  Her initial discoveries have been confirmed, the rest not so much.

I’ve come up with a number of good ideas, duly recorded in my notebook, but nothing to get me writing yet.  Since my “current project” is to get Hap the Crystalwright into the computer, I have no excuse—it’s just dictation.  Maybe later, maybe tomorrow, maybe never.

{12/21/21}  Weight 210.2 at 7:30 am.

I have little desire this morning to work on Hap.  I’d rather start something new, so I’d be actually writing as opposed to typing.  But I have no idea just now, no place to start.

Why not The Philosophy Novel?  Because I want to write arguments, not scenes, and I have no argument to pursue.  I think this one is deceased.

This morning’s best idea:  #143.  Characters #120 and 132 meet.  Or a man smitten with The Glad Game tries to convert another. (=120!)  A better fit for me:  The Self-Mastery Game, whatever it is.

Explanation:  #120 says, A character reads Pollyanna and is inspired to make everyone glad.  #132 says, A person so alienated that he tries to alienate everyone else.

But the Self-Mastery Game might be, each new temptation is an opportunity to devise a rule to prevent giving in to the temptation.

Now I’m in the mood to dictate some of Hap.  One page of handwritten became two full pages in Word, making fifteen so far.  Many more to follow.

{12/26/21}  See 2-Year Calendar for today’s weight and future weights.  Writing this at four in the morning.

Watched Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) last night on DVD.  It was very odd and not much fun, but I think an important experience for a fiction writer because the characters are so peculiar—every one of them, with the exception of the one played by Elizabeth Taylor, who is basically replaying “Maggie the Cat” from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but with a whip (the Paul Newman role is played by a horse).  Briefly, it’s set on an Army base and follows the lives of two officers’ bad marriages and a single Army private.  Marlon Brando plays Taylor’s husband; Brian Keith and Julie Harris play the other couple, and Robert Forster is “introduced” as Private Williams.  Read Roger Ebert’s review for the reactions of the audience to this excellent, surprising, uncompromising film.  I call it “excellent,” but it really is “caviary to the general,” to quote Hamlet (in the Yale Shakespeare reading; I first had it “caviare”).  I’ll likely never watch it again, and, although I got impatient with it a couple of times, I’m glad to have seen it and plan to read the book again (I read it before, or more likely just half of it, probably in the ’60s) to see how a famed writer handles such craziness.

It also occurs to me to have a character praise the book (“I read it six times!”) and movie.  The character might be called “Van Dorne” something or other, always insisting on being called “Van Dorne, not Van.”  But we’ll see—I don’t have a story to put this in.

Speaking of books, as I often do, I was again impressed by Will Durant in his Life of Greece, specifically this, introducing his section on Euripides:  “As Giotto rough-hewed the early path of Italian painting, and Raphael subdued the art with a quiet spirit into technical perfection, and Michelangelo completed the development in works of tortured genius; as Bach with incredible energy forced open a broad road to modern music, and Mozart perfected its form in melodious simplicity, and Beethoven completed the development in works of unbalanced grandeur; so Aeschylus cleared the way and set the forms for Greek drama with his harsh verse and stern philosophy, Sophocles fashioned the art with measured music and placid wisdom, and Euripides completed the development in works of passionate feeling and turbulent doubt.  Aeschylus was a preacher of almost Hebraic intensity; Sophocles was a classic artist clinging to a broken faith; Euripides was a romantic poet who could never write a perfect play because he was distracted by philosophy.  They were the Isaiah, Job, and Ecclesiastes of Greece.”  p. 400-401.  One might argue with any or all of the characterizations, but the structure is impressive. [1/4/22: Today it seems overwrought, reeking of midnight oil perhaps.]

Since it has been a month since I left Twitter, I have been considering setting up a new account; but I don’t really miss it and it’s just not worth the hour or two a day that I had been spending on it.  I can get news from other places, and if I don’t get to see what my “Twitter friends” are doing, perhaps I can develop real friends instead, as I’ve been doing.  I sometimes wonder why TC and Peanut bother with me; then I think about the uneducated and uncultured of Bakersfield, and see why.

Yesterday I watched many episodes of Family Guy; I have grown somewhat attached to the characters of Meg and Lois, and the series is undoubtedly very funny at times, but I’ve found my morals to the extent of disapproving of the racial and ethnic stereotyping; are we really supposed to laugh knowingly at jokes about the drunken Irish?  Does this mean that I’ll never watch it again?  No.  But I’ll keep an eye on the stereotyping while too often laughing at pee jokes and fat jokes and the like.

Caught The New Mutants (2020) on cable.  I liked it well enough but can’t really imagine enjoying it a second time…unless it’s for the actors.  The lesbian romance is nice without being gross.  The story is definitely weak, and the rather short 94 minute runtime is indicative of, um, something like that or other.  One doesn’t much wish it were longer.  36% from RT critics, 56% from audiences.

Came up with a new idea for a novel that seems more promising and detailed than most of my recent thinking.  I wrote about half a page, starting with “Ordinary life is boring.”

{12/29/21}  Long, vivid dream this morning.  I was driving on a freeway in heavy traffic, towing a trailer.  As the traffic forced me to stop, I decided to put down the books and phone and things that I had on my lap (!), so I opened my door and put them on the side of the road.  When the traffic started moving again, I drove slowly up the hill.  Then I remembered the things I had put at the side of the road, so, without stopping the slowly-moving car, I got out and went back down the hill to get what I’d left.  It was further away than I’d thought, but I got the books and stuff and began climbing the hill to get back in the car, which I assumed would have kept slowly moving up the hill (!).  But I couldn’t find the car.  I saw that a truck in another lane was stopped and some cardboard boxes had been unloaded in a lane next to it, and briefly thought it was my stuff, then realized it wasn’t.  I kept walking, looking for my car, looking over the side of the road to  see if it had driven off.  I ended up in a convenience store which I knew was owned by Salomé (!), but she wasn’t there.  I looked around a little, may have asked about Salomé, then stopped to look at some newspapers in a rack.  There was something peculiar about them; I think they were old and had only the front page…?

Then the dream changed and I was at home, in bed or just getting up in the morning, and I saw that my laptop was open and was displaying pictures showing the advantages of Windows 11, which was puzzling because I wouldn’t have gone to bed leaving my laptop open, and even if I had, it shouldn’t be showing these pictures.

That’s it.  The business with the lost car constitutes an “anxiety dream,” of which I’ve had many in my life.  It was quite unpleasant.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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