Conversations, June 18, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nearly 6 AM. [I have been doing some informal counseling for friends, and Thursday night’s session provided an example of how we can get trapped in ways of seeing things that prevent us from seeing straight. Since I work from the assumption that anyone on the other side that we are connected to knows what is in our mind — including our memories — I thought I’d see if Papa Hemingway had learned something, seeing his own tendencies from outside, so to speak.]

What do you think, Papa? Looking for my eyes, can you see the mental processes that progressively distorted your life?

I didn’t need your view to do that. Didn’t need anybody’s — but if I had, of course there would have been plenty of people’s to choose from, in and out of body. When you die, you get past those limits on your vision. Getting multiple viewpoints is as easy after life as it was hard during life. The thing is, by that time, it’s too late.

Too late to change your life as lived.

Too late to change your mind as shaped by how you’d lived. That’s why the guys said to you that they regarded your minds as habit-systems. You took it down, but you didn’t understand it. They meant that once you take away the physical surroundings — the body and its demands, sequential time and its demands, the limitations of point of view, all the features that make life in the physical unique — what’s left amounts to a set of habits, a way of looking at things and reacting to them, a cluster of associations. And this is what your immortality consists of, for any particular lifetime. If you incarnate again, as I have, still that legacy remains, and functions, and preserves its individuality — it has crystallized, to use their earlier terminology. Much of what you recorded in your sessions years ago you accepted but didn’t really understand, you see, and so now those things have laid a base from which you can move into deeper understandings.

It’s a reiterative process, I believe they said recently. Not sure if they meant this or something else.

In my day we never quoted the I Ching, but “Righteous persistence brings reward.”

I presume you never even saw one.

No. And my trip to China — if you were wondering — didn’t exactly put me among the kind of people who did.

Interesting to speculate: Would it have appealed to you?

Maybe. I would have been inpatient with it. Something would have had to have given me a reason to play with it long enough to get the feel of it. But if I had gotten that feel, maybe. You know I had a superstitious streak — that’s how I thought of it — and this idea of getting the edge on things might have had appeal. But — some other life, as you sometimes say.

Anybody reading this is going to wish I’d asked, so I’ll ask, but you understand, I don’t really care and in a way wouldn’t want to know: You said you are back. Can you say anything about your present life, or (if that life is over already) your more recently past life.

Can I, yes. Will I, no. It’s different from what we are doing in that unlike serious two-way information exchange, that would be like answering fan mail. Each life is distinct and separate, just as everyone knows. It’s just that each set of lives are connected, too, as other people know. The truth is found within contradictions and paradoxes, because anything we can say about life beyond the physical has to be translated, and the translation unavoidably distorts. It’s putting six dimensions into three; it’s like drawing a drawing or taking a photograph: The result is a representation in at least one fewer dimension, and so some features can only be implied and (with luck) inferred.

All right. Do we have a topic du jour, or is it a continuation of this, or do you want me to choose?

You are worrying over how to take all this information given to you so far over four years and shape it into meaningful and digestible packages.

I certainly am. I’m wondering how to even index it or outline it so that I can get a better handle on it all.

Welcome to my world, as you say in your time. (Well, I suppose that’s already passé, but I know it was current some time, because I can see it “in there” as I connect with you.)

Trying to pull together your life-experiences for your massive land-sea-air book, you mean.

Well, yes — but it is always a problem for a writer, for any mental worker. In fact, you could draw the analogy I just used — in fact, it isn’t even an analogy, it’s a specific example of the same thing. You’re translating something from three dimensions (and more) into fewer. You receive all this in bite-sized bits, separated by time. You attempt to assemble it into products that will compress the time and enhance the information, enhance connections and interactions so that each part reflects upon other parts. That is crafting it; that is translating it.

All right.

So, it’s a matter of combining intuition and hard work. Intuition leads you in the right direction (you hope!) but it’s hard work that moves you there. You like the intuitive end best. Who doesn’t? But it’s the work part, the examination by logic, that produces anything. Writing is hard work, which as your friend Danny pointed out to you years ago, is why so many people start to write and so few, comparatively, finish.

So, the specific work I should do? Or is figuring that out part of the work to be done?

Oh, it isn’t difficult to tell you what to do. It’s never hard to tell somebody. It’s the doing it that’s work!

First, take stock of your accumulated resources — in this case, these messages, these conversations.

Then factor in what you’ve already done with them. Chasing Smallwood took a coherent bit of them, for instance, and used the chronologically sorted transmissions partly as an example of the process of communicating.

Then decide which part you want to use and who you want to aim it at and what you want them to be able to get out of it, just as you always told your authors.

Then, shape it. In this case you’re going to want to frame the information and juggle it around until it is accessible to people who haven’t been watching right along.

The important work is actually what will involve the least external effort — that’s the figuring out what you want to do with it. But you can’t really do that until you know what you have, so, you see, your feeling that you have to go back and index what you’ve been given is accurate. There’s no way you can know what you have until you squeeze it into a far smaller shape that can be held in your mind simultaneously. Then when you’ve done step one, you can move to step three, taking account of step two as you do so, but in this particular case that won’t be a big problem. Separate out what you’re going to work on and what you aren’t. Work on one project at a time, even if you plan out several.

You see? You began receiving information in this more fluid form in December, 2005, 4 1/2 years before. You took some of it — the Smallwood materials — and brought it out as a book. You are taking other parts, mostly from unidentified “guys upstairs” and calling it So You Think Your Life Was Wasted. In both cases you have at least a central thread.

So what do you do with Carl Jung, and Abraham Lincoln, and Claude Bowers, and Lincoln Steffens, and Upton Sinclair, and several Kennedys, and Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, etc.? Isn’t the common thread obvious?

Well, almost obvious. Public life, to a degree. Inside history.

Again, think of your reader. What in all that will be useful to them?

Hard to imagine just what common characteristics the potential readers would have.

Is it? In the first place, they’re going to be able to consider the information seriously. In other words, people who just know this kind of thing is impossible aren’t going to read it. So that’s one.

Second, your material is aimed, always, at people who may transform themselves, or some aspect of themselves. So you may disregard talking to professional skeptics or defenders of a point of view. Some of them may stumble upon your work and be amused or enraged, but who cares? Not you, certainly. No point, then, in worrying about social “respectability” any more than I could if I was going to write anything true and honest.

Third, your audience is always going to be the intellectually curious. Dull-minded people will find you dull. Pedantic or dogmatic people will find you pedantic or dogmatic, in turn — and wrong-headed besides. So — you can’t write down to people even if you were of a mind to.

Fourth, following from these, your audience is going to be able to follow where you lead, on faith, until they decide it isn’t or is for them. So you have leeway.

And, finally, it will be safe to assume that few or none of them will have your extensive grounding in history, for after all that is something you were shaped to acquire with all that reading. So be aware that you should be putting in liberal doses of orienting explanations so that people don’t get lost. You can’t and shouldn’t expect people to do 10 years’ reading in order to understand what you’re talking about. Ideally, not even 10 minutes’ reading, or 10 seconds.

It should be contained within the information. You are doing the opposite (in a way) of what I did in my short stories. Instead of your leaving out everything you can, to heighten the impact of what you put in, you will need to put in enough to clarify the bulk of what will follow.

I see. The first thing this tells me is that I’m nowhere near ready to do anything with the books until I first summarize what I have — which is just what I’ve been feeling. The second thing is that it isn’t one book but at least a couple — which is just what I’ve been feeling. And the third is a reasonable and practical line of approach. So thanks for all that. But I sense that you are not quite finished, though this ought to be a place to stop.

No, not quite. You could think too about how to put it out. Them out. You think book because that is your accustomed medium. E.-book isn’t much different. But what of serial publication?

Where?

You could be your own magazine, or rather part of your own magazine.

Get together with others, you mean?

Sure. Don’t you have a friend who after 30 years of experience knows everything about the business?

I trust that you mean Internet- or e-mail-related, and not print. I’d never get into the printed-magazine business. It’s cannibal.

So, you see, you already know what you can’t and won’t do. Now you need a business model and you could begin if you chose to. You have enough friends with material to contribute, if they had a venue.

Oh God, Emerson publishing The Dial again? Spare me, oh Lord!

I think we both agree that the business end isn’t your forte, but attracting contributors could be.

I don’t know about this. My tendency is to shy away.

Well before you do, consider this. It isn’t a matter of your establishing or running or editing such a magazine, merely being a contributing editor.

The pattern in my life is for me to get involved and then wind up doing things I don’t have the training or aptitude to do, although, I admit, it does stretch me.

Well, I’m not pushing it, just pointing out it’s something you haven’t considered doing. Another is sending these out to a wider list than your initial core of friends. No profit there, but no cost either, and you see your work getting out into the external world.

Did you edit Scribners Magazine?

I wasn’t in your position, and our talents and aims are different. I wrote fiction and the venues were available.

Well, I can think about it, but my tendency is to say, quoting you quoting me, maybe some other life. Thank you as always, Papa.

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