Conversations August 3, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 AM. I was dreaming of dad. A very pleasant dream, centering on his cheerfulness. He had so much stuff to be gone through. He was gone and I dreaded to start going through it, drawers full of stuff packed tight, to be emptied out into shopping bags and assorted. But that’s all I remember except realizing how cheerful and helpful he’d been, and how unappreciated.

— I lie in bed and keep thinking of the murder of John F. Kennedy; Dealey Plaza; the crossfire, all that. Why? Does somebody want to talk about that? And if so, what? (And why?)

Nobody? Then why keep me awake?

The connection will become evident later today, or after today. Just make a note of it.

All right. Meant to note, at the presentation Sunday a woman saw me surrounded by presences — in the form of lights, I think she said — which I took and take to be the guys.

And the idea you just received is a valid one — you could have someone photograph you with a digital camera and get some interesting portraits with your friends if you call them for the occasion. Or, if you call David, John, Joseph, Bertram etc. successively you might be able to get photos of them with you, although theirs would be like a superimposed blurry or pale image. You could take a photo in your bathroom mirror.

7 AM. All right, late start today. Who’s on first?

If Abbott and Costello couldn’t figure it out, you and I aren’t going to.

Say more. I don’t have you yet.

It’s Tuesday morning in early August. You’ve been doing this all of July, all of June and May at a couple of days of April. That’s a lot of time to get used to the feel of a certain voice.

Well, if it’s you, Ernest, it doesn’t quite feel like you.

As you have noted and explained, the TGU concept has served you extremely well over the years, by rendering identification unnecessary.

All right, well, what’s today’s subject, or is it up to me? I’m tempted to ask what is it that’s going to happen today.

Disclosure, of a sort, but not of a sort anyone is expecting.

Going to say more about that?

No, because there’s no point in trying to describe a snowfall to one who has no experience of snow. Also, remember Rita’s description of her attempts to contact the future, how she continually readjusted anything that came, to stick to the probable? We laughed at her logic, and she did too when she realized what she had been doing. You’d be doing the same thing. There’s no need to try to predict as a way of being sure we didn’t say anything that didn’t come to pass. And there is no reason to move into guesswork instead of reception, which is about what would happen.

All right. So we’ll see. I did get that Barack Obama is too well protected to be killed. And I certainly hope so.

Oh yes. Been there, done that.

[Again, as yesterday with Rita, a voice and a phrase I recognized immediately.] Joyce?

How are you? That’s merely a social convention, but you know us Southerners.

Joyce, very nice to hear from you. I didn’t realize we were working together. Or are you here for a particular reason?

You have so many of us helping you, and of course you aren’t aware of most of us, and often enough aren’t aware of any of us. There isn’t anything wrong with that, I’m just pointing it out. You’re the focus of a tremendous lot of attention because of what you’re doing.

Well, then probably we ought to keep on doing it, huh?

Probably a good idea, yes.

So what in particular, my lovely friend?

I’ll bet you say that to all the spirits.

Laughing. When you find an approach that works —

Frank, I just want to particularly encourage you. You could ratchet up what you’re doing very easily merely by posting daily on the Monroe list and encouraging any and all to re-post to their own lists, and you could post every day’s, as it comes, on your blog. The reason — or one reason, anyway — is that your changes are coming so quickly that no one will be able to follow them without journeying along with you, and this was never intended by you here or you there to be only a private voyage of discovery. You made up a conversation between Angelo and Claire [in Babe In The Woods] about being Columbus and not shrinking from the implications — so maybe it wasn’t you who made it up. Or, as you always say, why do you suppose you made up that instead of something else?

So I should — or could, anyway; I do recognize the distinction — post as we go as well as put it all together in a more organized form?

It’s right-brain/left-brain in a way. Any given day’s catch is an experience unto itself even if it consists of a logical explanation of some facet of something. The detailed analysis and interrelation of the various separate elements is an act of synthesis such as the left-brain was fashioned to be able to provide. So, each has its rightful place.

All right. And that will solve the problem of feeding the blog, nicely, won’t it?

You can’t know what you’re in the middle of starting (not that anyone can, ever) because what you do is interrelated on a global and beyond-global scale with what everyone else does. One fisherman in the North Atlantic probably isn’t aware of his part — or let’s say isn’t aware of the total pattern of which his life is a part. And that “probably” was for the sake of ironic emphasis.

You, nor anyone reading what you post, whether they read it right away or after a long delay, can have much idea of how you fit into the larger scheme of things. Fortunately you and they don’t need to know. It would be a fine thing if something impossible were necessary, wouldn’t it?

Encouragement for the troops, eh?

Don’t you all deserve it? Don’t you sometimes need it, and don’t you usually appreciate it?

All encouragement gladly accepted. I certainly try to encourage people. I spent years without it, or anyway without recognizing it; I know its value.

So —

You can see what a creature of habit you are, and how even necessary changes in habit [I was away from home as I took this entry in my journal] deprive you — deprive one — of a certain support.

I wish I’d recognized it early in life!

Well, things take as long as they take.

I never knew whose advice was good, or what commonly accepted advice pertained to me.

You can see, being totally at sea has its advantages and its disadvantages. If you don’t know where you are or where you are headed or even where you came from — a pretty good description of everyday life in any case — it’s harder to stick to one course, but it does mean you may discover some previously unknown island.

Yes, if you don’t die of hunger and thirst, and your crew doesn’t mutiny, and you have a ship that doesn’t founder, etc.

Ernest told you, there’s a complaints desk somewhere.

No doubt. So are we just floundering around this morning or is there something more pointed?

You can always ask a question. The message I wanted to deliver, I delivered.

All right, I do appreciate it — and shall I pass on your best wishes to a certain mutual friend?

No need. We can do that ourselves.

Okay. So — let’s see. Ernest, are you still re-running Star Trek episodes?

I think I’ve gotten about as much out of them as was put into them. It’s no big problem to tear myself away.

How was it that you could find markets for your stories in magazines that depended on advertising? [I was asking, in other words, how did he escape the need to write stories with happy endings.]

You didn’t see any of them appearing in the Saturday Evening Post, did you? They [that is, his stories] had a different audience, one that would sit still for ambiguity, or indirection, or sardonic content. And of course after I’d made a name with The Sun Also Rises, my market was any magazine that thought my name would help sell.

Gingrich and Esquire.

By the time that came along, I was in my 30s, and I was established. But we helped each other. I was a good name for his masthead and his was a good audience for my future writings. And he paid very well, and got his money’s worth.

How did it happen that you ceased to write for magazines after the war?

As much as anything, no financial need. And I had my eyes on such a larger project — my land sea and air book — that I didn’t want to have interrupted by trying to write short stories, and none particularly occurred to me.

Too much isolation, too?

Well, that requires some telling. I wasn’t isolated in the sense of not having people around, and many of them were intelligent, stimulating people. But people seen in a party context is not the same thing as people seen in the context of living with them, of doing something together, easy or hard, short or long.

Eating and drinking has a sameness, I take it.

Oh, I hear your refrain about too much alcohol. I’ll go this far — once you get dependent on a thing, obviously you lose some freedom of maneuver, you have to be sure it’s around, and maybe it’s the same as your coffee all the time. But it’s still a social lubricant. It’s still a ritual like breaking bread together. It has its place in life.

But we were talking about isolation.

A writer’s life is lonely — or, alone, anyway — because nobody can go to those places in the mind in company. And your reports when you come back or just a pale reflection of what you saw, what you lived, what you are

Now, if the rest of your life balances that time, that’s well and good. Or if you unbalance while you’re working on a long project but then you take time later to rebalance, to get back in touch with external life, that’s good, and that’s what I always did before the war. But it was harder afterwards. Easier just to host parties at the finca than to move about — and after a while of living like that, people coming to you, you not going to them, you get used to it, and you get more and more vaguely uneasy breaking out of that comfortable routine. Even if it is an uncomfortable routine, it becomes more comfortable than going out. It is a form of agoraphobia, I suppose. You wind up like you were when you were a kid, with the outside world seeming very strange, vaguely threatening, very unfamiliar. That’s one reason I carried all that luggage. Not the only reason. But one reason — I tried to bring my world with me. I became incapable of going anywhere with a change of clothes and a toothbrush. And if we weren’t going to a known place like the lodge in Idaho, it was harder. And of course in any life, you lose people — you take casualties, as I always put it — and some of them can’t be replaced. Max, Charlie Scribner. It distanced me even farther from the outside connection to my inner world of writing.

If you had been healthier, if you hadn’t had a concussion and its aftermath in 1944 and if you hadn’t had the airplane crashes 10 years later, could you have kept writing by concentrating on the world that you had known, that no longer existed?

That would have depended on what resources came to mind. Writing about any true thing is health-giving. But writing just for the sake of writing as an exercise wasn’t enough. I suppose I could have written a memoir — besides A Movable Feast, I mean — but what good would it have done? It mainly would have demonstrated what an unreliable memory I had.

Well, I don’t know that this has been that great a session, but it’s what I could do. Anything else, at the moment?

Only to second the motion that you continue to encourage yourself and encourage the troops — they to do the same.

Okay. Maybe later, maybe Thursday, or maybe — whenever.

10 AM. Anymore about disclosure?

No. For one thing, the TV in the lobby is too distracting. But we wouldn’t want to go any farther anyway.

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