Conversations September 5, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

5:50 AM. Thinking, for some reason, of “The Search For Spock” and the TV episodes of Star Trek that I have been watching (the complete set of VCRs, the gift of a friend uncluttering so as to be able to accumulate new clutter, as do we all). Watching so many TV shows of the same program, essentially one after another, makes so clear how the formula runs, and shows the central flaw in it as drama. If, every time it’s time for a commercial, it looks like it’s curtains for Kirk or Spock or the Enterprise — in order to build enough suspense to force or entice the audience to sit through the commercials and not change channels — and then of course it turns out to be (big surprise) not curtains after all…

Even more, if the whole plot, episode after episode, consists of one of those unthinkable perils or any other massive catastrophes that the viewer knows well isn’t going to happen, it becomes chewing-gum for the mind. The viewer would have to willfully go along with the producer to pretend to be afraid for the ones in peril. He — she — would have to deliberately get used to experiencing a fake emotion rather than a real one. It is the very genesis of the “happy ending” — and a country that is continually fed happy endings is being thereby divorced from reality, not because endings are always or even sometimes sad in real life but because of that basic dishonesty of the emotion the viewer is fed. It is more than tugging at their heartstrings. It is teaching them to think they feel what they don’t feel.

And I can prove it. The end of “The Wrath Of Kahn” was Spock’s death, and that death moved people regardless of whether it was overdrawn. And the end of “Nemesis” was Data’s death, and it was a shattering ending, not punning here, either. But what if Data could have been “resurrected” as Spock was? Wouldn’t it have cheapened the previous emotion as Spock’s resurrection in movie number three somewhat cheapened (retrospectively) the emotion experienced in number two?

Nor does it make any difference that these were “merely” fictional characters. We can love fictional characters quite as much as real people. More, perhaps, in that we may understand fictional ones better, and we are not challenged by them as they do not arouse sleeping robots or dragons. People loved Data as they loved Spock. From the mind’s point of view (literally) a functional representation of life is little different from the real experience of life, and so we may have many friends who never had a body.

[TGU] And In that — if we may break in — you could learn something. What are the guys upstairs, what is a past life, but characters without bodies in your moment of life? From your experiential point of view, what is the difference?

Aha! I always knew I was making you up!

We smile. But, you see, even in your novel [Babe In The Woods] you had one of your characters point out that imagination and memory are perceived in a way similar to each other and different from any other perception.

Yes I did. One of your bright ideas turned into one of my thoughts, I suppose?

There is no ownership of ideas. But now consider this: This is what Edgar Cayce’s voice meant in saying that Thoughts Are Things.

That would be a good title for a talk, in fact.

Yes it would, for it could be used to shed light on your lives.

Okay, now, I was going along with an idea like a house afire, and in midstream realized in a half-aware kind of way that it could be looked on as you talking even though it was me talking. I get the sense that it was as much a demonstration as anything else it was.

And then we interrupted. But sometimes you set out one view of things and then say “but it isn’t that simple” and explore with equal sympathy and intensity another aspect of a given subject. What do you suppose is happening there?

Well that’s very interesting. Sure, another person in my strand-mind is horning in, or maybe another part of my group-mind. A “past life” or one of the guys upstairs — and alternately or concurrently.

And together with you as coordinating intelligence, yes. But you in the body must agree and cooperate or nothing can be done, though the thoughts can still be suggested.

Thoughts are things. This does not mean merely (though it is important enough in its own right) that as you think, so you become. It means that thoughts are as real to the (non-physical, remember) mind as events. Just because your violent or lustful or uncharitable thoughts are not expressed to others — and of course, often enough they are — does not mean they are confined within your skull, harmlessly and unperceived. Not only do your chosen thoughts change you; they affect the mental environment which affects people which affect the physical environment sooner or later.

Look around you and see the results of decades of worship of wealth, of disbelief — active and passive disbelief — in a greater meaning to life than transitory temporal matters. The ruin of your world is incubated in the riotous mind, as World War I was forced upon a reluctant civilization by the accumulated pressure of so much undirected hatred and fear.

I’ll spell out that thought as I transcribe; it will be easier.

[Diplomacy and militarism and the various complicated political events that led to the war were only the “how” of it. The “why” of it was an intense emotional – dare we say spiritual? – pressure that had built up in the wake of a century of physical “progress” accompanied by spiritual regress. I don’t mean that Europeans ceased to be actively believing Christians, though that was the surface manifestation of it; I mean that they – like us today, ominously enough – had ceased to experience any but material life, and it built up an intolerable though untraceable pressure that resulted in an explosion. I do not pretend that this is a common view of the cause of World War I, but it is one that the guys and I share. (Big surprise!) Consider the emotional difference between the nature of the European and the American participation in the war, or say the Japanese participation, which was merely opportunistic. The more closely you look, the less you can see the war as having any rational purpose or cause. After the war, reaction set in, but in most cases did not extend beyond outrage at the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the “merchants of death” who had fueled the arms race. This too was part of the “how,” not the “why” of the war.]

Okay. So then, this is only one more aspect of our theme. What you are is central; far more than what you do. What you are is as a beacon; it shines and you cannot prevent it from shining. Your unique duty — anyone who reads this — is to decide what you will shine, and you do this not in an abstract pattern of thought but by what you choose, moment by moment. As you choose, so you are. As you are, so you radiate. As you radiate, so is your effect. This is not a trivial responsibility. It is not made trivial because billions of others on earth and uncounted uncountable numbers in other star systems are each equally uniquely responsible for their own stewardship of a bit of creation. Numbers do not enter into it, any more than mass enters into a dream, or inertia enters into an altered-state experience.

The very experience of living a life while persuaded of its meaninglessness is meaningful. Living persuaded of entire predestination still entails continual deliberate choice after choice.

Now, to return to the beginning. You had a thought and set out to follow it. As you did, you recognized that the feel of this experience of writing it out did not appreciably differ from talking to us. At first you thought it was the time of day and the accustomed place at the table and the coffee. Then the thought came — I wonder from where? — “this is how I could write the book, and maybe not doing it this way is why I haven’t been able to do it.”

And so on down the chain of influences. Your lives are not separate from the non-physical influence of other aspects of yourselves at various levels. How could they be? Your mind — our mind — exists in the non-physical. It exists as part of an undivided whole, as your bodies exist as part of undivided physical nature both vertically in time — genetics, for instance — and horizontally in space — breathing air, living on food and drink, interacting with the world.

And so it doesn’t make as much difference as we usually think, who is driving.

Not that, exactly. More like, your ideas of who is “you” are too constricted. Why separate in your mind your thumb from the rest of your hand? Why draw absolute distinctions between things that are integrally connected? After a useful period of intellectual halfway-house concepts, why differentiate between “you” and “the guys upstairs” or between “you” and your “instincts,” or “moods” or “traits” or anything else? We are encouraging you to think of group-mind, person-mind, strand-mind not because we want to give you a new absolute but because we want to give you alternative models to loosen the grip on you of inadequate physical-sensation-based models that are no longer counterbalanced by spiritual models designed to be held at the same time. Your age no longer believes in body and soul. It effectively believes — by not seeing anything around it, being blinded by its “scientific” materialism — that only what can be measured exists. It knows better, if it would properly weigh the evidence, but it needs an excuse to believe what it already knows.

That’s my old statement about what Hampton Roads was publishing — books that gave people an excuse to believe what they already knew.

We knew we stole it from somewhere. We smile.

It always surprises me, how these pages fill. Hemingway would have liked to fill his so easily.

He spoke truly when he said that writing came hard to him. He was an expert fisherman, and could fish the feeling out of the air, but it was hard slogging to find the words and concepts to clothe them in. He and Fitzgerald — that is, Hemingway’s profundity and Fitzgerald’s phenomenal talent in expression — would have made an even greater impression on the world. But they had different jobs to do, and somewhat complementary roles to fill.

Enough for today, I think.

We think so too. Thanks for doing some of our work for us.

I’m smiling too. Till next time.

4 thoughts on “Conversations September 5, 2010

  1. I like this post a lot, particularly the part about radiating what we are, and the importance of that responsibility. Parts of that paragraph I printed on a yellow sticky note and put up here in my work cubicle. A good reminder.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean about Star Trek, though. It sound like you sense something dangerous in tv dramas that bring out an emotional response in us. Well, it’s true I pretend to be afraid for Spock and Kirk when they get into trouble. But that’s what entertainment is, that’s what art is!

    When I listen to Beethoven’s symphonies and the music turns dark and minor (though I know it will work out alright in the end), is he “teaching me to think I feel what I don’t feel”? Please elaborate.

    1. I would suggest that you mull over what was said here:
      “The viewer would have to willfully go along with the producer to pretend to be afraid for the ones in peril. He — she — would have to deliberately get used to experiencing a fake emotion rather than a real one. It is the very genesis of the “happy ending” — and a country that is continually fed happy endings is being thereby divorced from reality, not because endings are always or even sometimes sad in real life but because of that basic dishonesty of the emotion the viewer is fed. It is more than tugging at their heartstrings. It is teaching them to think they feel what they don’t feel.”
      When listening to Beethoven you don’t have to pretend that some of the musicians will be killed if they hit a wrong note.

  2. What about operas? What about plays? What about novels? What about poems? What about hunters telling the tale of the hunt to their people around the fire at night?

    1. Which of those have a guaranteed happy ending, so that you have to pretend to yourself (or be terminally naive) in order to actually feel the emotions we feel when we truly care about characters in peril?

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