“Bans Off Our Bodies” and “Against Mysticism”

Diary 5/12 to 5/14/22: Protest planned in Bakersfield; empathy; dreamlets; “Charles Adolphus Spree”; fiction writing and contentment; Wittgenstein; WordPress stats; The World Needs Me; philosophy club?


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

{5/12/22} Continued.

Heard about “Bans off our Bodies” protests to take place regarding the Roe v Wade item in the news; searching for this term, I found a website that provides tools for organizers, ActionNetwork.org, and a link for Bans off our Bodies.  More to the point, Bans off our Bodies has a website of their own:  https://riseup4abortionrights.org/

Actions are planned for May 14th, Saturday, at 41 locations (today) across the United States and in Australia.  Currently, nothing is planned for Bakersfield, California, though five other locations in the state are listed.  Surely, someone in this city of 300,000+ is planning something?  In fact, a gathering is planned for noon in Bakersfield.  I will be attending.  Perhaps I’ll make a “Bans off their Bodies” sign.  I’ve sent emails to people I have email addresses for.

From Neuroscience News:  “People who are more accurate at reading another person’s emotions are better able to understand what a musician is trying to convey through their compositions. Additionally, those with higher empathetic accuracy are better able to feel the emotions conveyed through music.”

I don’t dispute the finding, but I question whether musicians are “trying to convey” anything in particular…but I suddenly realize that I’m thinking of classical, abstract compositions which have no apparent meaning or “program,” not popular songs.  Okeh.

Taking a nap after breakfast, I had five “dreamlets.”

  • I was putting on a “thumb tip,” which is a magician’s gimmick, then realizing, “I don’t have a thumb tip!  Where did I get that?”  I woke up but didn’t open my eyes.
  • (forgotten)
  • I got up from the recliner where I was napping and went into the “office” (my bedroom) to write about the dreamlets on my laptop.
  • (forgotten)
  • I was looking at the laptop screen at an article about “Charles Adolphus Spree”; then looking again I saw that it was “Charles Adolphus: spree” or something like that.

At one point, I opened my eyes a little (or dreamt that I did) and saw the green of the washcloth that I use to cover my eyes when napping during the day.  In fact, I was lying in my bed with my eyes covered through the whole sequence.

It’s always a little unnerving to be dreaming, know that you’re dreaming, think that you’ve woken up, then learn that you’re still dreaming.

“Charles Adolphus Spree” gets no hits from DDG [DuckDuckGo]; “Charles Adolphus” brings up Charles Adolphus Row, a “British Christian preacher and moral philosopher” who has a Wikipedia page.  Charles Anthony are the first and middle names of my stepfather.


Last night I wrote, by hand, two pages of conversation between F and A.  As usual, it’s all complete agreement, there’s no conflict.  They’re talking about Shakespeare and poetry generally, what they like and what they think of what they write.  And although this is a very modest accomplishment, extremely modest, there’s nothing I can claim is original about it—yet, the accomplishment resonates this morning, leading to a calmer mind, a happier self.

It started with A having an abrupt change of mood, a declaration, “I’m bored.”  With a change in bodily position.  This kind of thing could be thrust into practically any situation, and I did it as a whim, feeling a need to write but not having an idea consciously in mind.  It’s almost as though I put myself, even my feelings, into A, expressed what I/she was feeling, and then thought of what might be done next, which actually was a suggestion that they carry on what they had been doing half an hour earlier.

My point?  Just thinking out loud.  I was reading Wittgenstein and recognized my contentment, and thought I knew the reason for it, and wanted to record the thought.  Fortunately, the laptop was already fired up and I didn’t have to wait long to get to the writing (the opposite occurrence is common in my mornings).

The Philosophical Investigations reads like what it is, a collection of notes.  It hardly goes anywhere (I’m about ¾ of the way through), there’s no “argument.”  My interest in it is weak; I am more concerned “to have read it” than “to learn from it.”  No conclusion to my thought here, just an observation.  If I ask myself whether I’ve learned anything so far, I can’t think of anything, except possibly some modification of attitudes—I cannot be more specific than “modification.”  I had already read Wittgenstein’s Blue Book or Brown Book, whichever he wrote first, and of course I had tried to read the PI twice before and given it up out of boredom.  It’s rather surprising that I’ve been able to stick with it, actually.

I can’t stick with Herodotus…all that minutiae, it has nothing to do with me and I won’t retain it at all.  I could go back to the book Persia and the Greeks if I just want to learn the history of the wars.  And Durant, which I’ve read three or more times (not all the way through, usually), for a much briefer account.  Meh.

Something very flaky about the statistics I get from WordPress, as I’ve noted before.  I get “likes” on files that haven’t been “viewed.”  I can see that happening if someone is in the “reader” display, clicks on a “tag,” like, say, Politics, my page headers pop up, and they click the star icon just for the hell of it.  But why would anyone do this, and why does it happen rather often?

I woke up around 1:00 am and had trouble getting back to sleep.  If I remember correctly, a very big if here, before I went to sleep I wrote, in the dark, on a post-it, “World needs me.”  This morning I can’t find that note.

Was this a dream?  Did I move the note somewhere and have forgotten this in the three hours since I got up?  Why can’t I find this note?

Now, as for “The world needs me,” last night this seemed revelatory and it felt like a major change in my attitude towards the world.  This is worth much thought.  I imagined (or dreamt) meeting people in the street and greeting them like I have sometimes seen old men on the bus doing, talking to everyone individually, saying, “Hi, how are you doing?” and listening sympathetically to the reply…and much more.  I saw myself being comfortable in this role, relishing it.  And I thought of how to present the statement as a conclusion, along the lines of:  “In a world with so much suffering, in a world where few are happy and many are troubled, how can I be so concerned about myself?  The world needs you, needs your love and sympathy and generosity…” and so on.

I could see myself saying, “What can I do to help?” and “What do you need?” and people asking always, always, for money.  I even went so far as to think about when my back rent will be paid off, and how I might turn that $400 per month into twenty twenties, carrying around twenties as I do now with singles, giving two to whoever asks for “spare change.”  Then I imagined the old wrecks of men living in the group home that is within, literally, a stone’s throw from where I live, these men besieging me every time I step out my door and head for the bus stop.  And of course that was unpleasant.  But if I start handing out twenties, the word will definitely get around, and will greatly increase the panhandling of myself and perhaps others.

Mixed up in this thinking was my “10% solution,” an explanation of this from my prison diary is available on my blog here.  This text is also available in “Religion, Morality, and the Meaning of Life” but that is a very long document.


Reading my blog post on “Maya and Mysticism,” I am forcefully reminded of how inadequate the Hemlock Club is to my “philosophical needs.”  Peanut and Nog are willing to talk about their mystics, but Nietzsche or Russell not so much; Pablo is more a poseur than a reader of philosophy, much less a thinker.  In trying to characterize these people, I see that I am unfair—Peanut and Nog, at least, want to talk about their philosophers and not mine, while I want to talk about mine…though I am willing to engage with theirs, if I’m not expected to read whole books about them.  I can’t expect them to deliver what I expect or want;  I need to be content with what they are willing to deliver.  If I want people to respond to my philosophical writings, preferably in writing, the place for this is the Internet, not Panera Bread or Dagny’s.  Indeed, what I get from the HC is mostly a solidification (petrifaction?) of my opinions, and occasionally a clarification in my own mind and more or less by accident.  In other words, I’d be almost as well off, and in some ways better off, in talking to Timmyted (a stuffed bear).

I should write an essay, something like “Against Mysticism,” to get the message out there that there is “another way” than all the New Age hucksterism that passes for “spirituality” in vapid minds like Lisa Garr (“The Aware Show” on FSTV), that way being philosophy.  But this is just a shorter version of my A Secular Salvation unwritten book; might be a good start.

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

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s