I feel like saying, “here I am again, back from the dead!” More to the point, I’m back from last revisions (I hope!) to Hemingway on Hemingway: Afterlife Conversations on His Life, His Work and the Myth, my seventh book, which is to be published later this year by Rainbow Ridge Books, the imprint owned by Bob Friedman, my old partner at Hampton Roads.
I suppose the easiest way to explain what I’m doing is just to append the Introduction.
Introduction – This business of afterlife communication
“What a book would be the real story of Hemingway, not those he writes but the confessions of the real Ernest Hemingway. It would be for another audience than the audience Hemingway has now but it would be very wonderful.”
Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
What if Papa Hemingway could speak from beyond the grave? What would he say about his life and work?
And what if a skilled and wise psychological practitioner like Carl Jung could join with Hemingway in speaking from beyond the grave? What if he were to say that Hemingway is a good model of the Complete Man, developed physically and intellectually, exhibiting highly developed intuitive and sensory functioning? And what if their considered judgment was that Hemingway’s life had meaning beyond what had been seen to date? What if they felt it worthwhile to make the effort to communicate with us, to try to correct certain harmful aspects of The Hemingway Myth? What if they thought that correcting that myth was important, not to Hemingway but to those of us living now and in the future?
That’s pretty much what this book is about. This interaction with Hemingway is neither biography or autobiography. It is more a series of conversations, hitting certain highlights, Hemingway as I experienced him.
I communicate well with disembodied others, working from a mildly altered state very little different from my ordinary consciousness. How I learned to do this, I told in my first non-fiction book, Muddy Tracks: Discovering an Unsuspected Reality. What I’ve done with it so far, I have told in three other books. I don’t intend to recap even the highlights of my story here, as anyone interested can consult my other books, or my blog, “I of My Own Knowledge…” www.hologrambooks.com/).
For most of my life, what I knew about Ernest Hemingway was primarily his posthumously published novel Islands in the Stream, a moving portrait of a man’s love for his children and his desolation when they were taken from him. I felt emotionally very close to the man who had written that book. One day it occurred to me that just as I had learned to talk to others who were no longer in the body, so I could talk to him. Immediately it was as if a two-dimensional field had become three dimensional, or a black-and-white photo acquired color.
This book is about Hemingway, and Hemingway’s place in our time, and Hemingway as a model for what humans may become, which gives that life importance for us all, even those who think they know who Hemingway was.
His interests were so wide-ranging! His life touched so many extremes! He was a writer of genius, a renowned and skillful hunter and fisherman, a charismatic personality who became a celebrity. He had friends in every social stratum, from his poor neighbors in Cuba to the rich on three continents. He was praised and damned, admired and contemned. His stories and books made him rich, but were frequently entirely misunderstood, as was he. No adequate picture of 20th-century literature can ignore his considerable legacy. But what that legacy is, history hasn’t quite decided. He didn’t run with packs, but the pack came to run after him, which sometimes has left him at the mercy of those who claimed to be upholding his legacy.
I had thought of calling this Hemingway: A Man Alone, quoting Harry Morgan in To Have and Have Not, who famously decides, at the end, that a man alone doesn’t have a chance. And I thought of calling it A Hemingway Nobody Knows, to emphasize the difference between the man and the myth. But neither title quite caught the gist of the story and the reason behind the story. Hemingway on Hemingway better captures it, I think. We’re out to correct the record, Hemingway and Jung and I – two giants from beyond the grave and their still-embodied editorial assistant.
Or, to quote Papa [Tuesday, July 20, 2010]:
Remember, in all this we are proceeding along more than one track. There is the correction of The Hemingway Myth for the sake of providing a model of completeness that the world misunderstood — not for the sake of doing me justice, although there is that, so much as for the sake of providing the model. The model is needed! And to correct the myth, it is necessary to understand; therefore it can’t be a whitewash job, and it can’t be superficial. But it isn’t a matter of research for new facts — mostly it is a matter of interpreting what is known. That’s one strand.
A second is to provide a model of possibilities, showing how communication proceeds and showing what can be done, and how easily. This could be a great encouragement to people. And just as correcting the myth can’t be a whitewash if it is to do any good, so explaining the process can’t overlook the difficulties and pitfalls, which involves your giving the process a certain amount of thought so as to be useful.
Then, most important of the three but depending on the other two, this will provide people with a new model of the physical/non-physical interaction, hence the true function of 3-D existence, and by implication we will show that the non-physical exists — that is, that the afterlife is not only not a fantasy but is a necessary part of life, without which life wouldn’t have meaning or make any sense. And it will do so in a way that shows that religious belief was tapping into the same reality.
Of course I am aware of the danger of leading myself and others astray. All along, others have asked me, and I have asked myself, how much of what I think is happening can be proved. The answer has to be, none of it. In matters of contact with non-physical intelligences, all we can really know for sure is that the material does or does not resonate. That, we can know. Anything beyond that is a matter of belief, only. I am left with Jesus’ test, “by their fruits you will know them.” So far the fruits of each day’s task are enthusiasm, and joy, and new insight. But as to proof? You’re going to have to use your discernment, and see what resonates.
How is the interaction possible? Here’s how I think of it.
Any minds that ever existed within time-space continue to exist outside of it, as alive as we are. Since our own minds extend into the non-physical world, we can connect to these non-physical minds, often when we aren’t even aware of doing so. We seem to be in continuous connections with those who are on our particular wave-length. This is what some people call guidance. Yet there will be a core group of contacts that connects to what is most deeply you.
I call my core group “the guys upstairs” (TGU), and neither they nor I see any advantage in my putting them on a pedestal. We have the same kind of easy, joking relationship that I have with many of my embodied friends. I would suggest that you think of your own guys upstairs as friends who drop in or out of conversations depending on whether they have anything to add. We don’t necessarily know at any given time who is participating, because different individuals fade in or out depending what’s going on. Different particular interests elicit different minds, just as in ordinary life. From time to time our TGU may include relatives, friends, “past lives” – and perhaps famous people with whom we have certain resonance, or with whom we share a certain task.
A very important thing to keep in mind: When we are in connection with other minds, they know what we know. Thus, Hemingway knows about Star Trek. That is, he knows what I know about Star Trek. When he connects with others, he knows what they know. Minds on the other side are no longer bound to one time and space as we seem to be. (I say “seem to be” because in fact our minds are as non-physical, hence as unbounded, as theirs. But we are tethered to a body that repeatedly brings us back to a focus in one space, one time.)
So who are we interacting with? It isn’t always possible to know, and it isn’t always necessary to know. A message has to stand on its own, to resonate or not, rather than lean on someone’s presumed authority. Sometimes I recognize the presence of Carl Jung or Ernest Hemingway or another specific individual, but I try to remain aware that what I think I know may or may not be true. I proceed on that understanding, and so should you.
The conversations with Hemingway and others that make up this book occurred between the years 2006 and 2011, inclusive — with most of it coming in the last seven months of 2010. Mostly it came in sessions of about an hour to an hour and a half. I would sit down with my journal and sometimes pose a question, sometimes merely indicate my availability, and would write what welled up, and would respond to that, much like a normal conversation with someone in the body.
The material did not come in the same order that Hemingway’s life was lived, nor for quite a while did I realize that a book was intended. Our conversations skipped around, sometimes examining this aspect of his life, sometimes that aspect, sometimes in one session connecting bits of his life that were widely separated in years. I tried three different ways of arranging the material. For a while I thought it should be divided into three themes: his life, his work, and the myth. Then I thought to arrange it chronologically as much as possible, to follow the life as he had lived it. Then I thought to arrange it according to a different chronology, presenting it in the order it had been given to me.
Each way had its disadvantages, mostly because the conversations skipped around so much even during the same session. To arrange it by themes sometimes meant that to put a session where it logically belonged, I would have to leave another part of the same session where it did not belong, or would have to break the session into two or more parts, with some loss of clarity. To arrange it by the chronology of Hemingway’s life resulted in conspicuous gaps and unevenness – for, after all, this is neither a biography nor an autobiography – and did not assist in placing many large sections that could have gone in any of several places, or (because they were too conceptually abstract) in none at all. So finally, with reservations, I decided to present the material in the order it had come to me – that is, chronologically according to the date of the session. This prevented the kind of confusion that arises when things are presented out of order.
More importantly, though, it gave a better sense of how the relationship gradually developed, for the process itself is at the heart of this book. This series of conversations provides one example of how to learn to communicate with the other side. That’s one reason why I have left in some of the perplexities, hesitations, obstacles and fears that I had to work through. (I did silently edit both my entries and those of others to enhance clarity. As the guys upstairs told me long ago, the aim is not to produce words to be treated as scripture, but to provide increased understanding of whatever we happen to be talking about.)
You will notice that I have made no attempt to dramatize either the information or the process of obtaining it. I don’t know of any single factor that has done more to discredit the whole business of such communication than this over-dramatization that so often happens. I’m with Jack Webb (“Dragnet’s” Sergeant Friday): “Just the facts, ma’am.” The facts are dramatic enough; they don’t need enhancement. It would be like making a big drama over somebody talking on the telephone.
One more thing. The Hemingway I connected to is not the entire person, any more than anyone is the entire person to anyone, ever. We relate to each other according to who we each are. Some traits and interests are shared, some are not. There never has been and never will be a relationship without mystery. How could there be? Thus the Hemingway I met was not the hunter and fisherman – the outdoorsman in general – nor the bon vivant or the cut-throat competitor. Those are not the traits I possess. It isn’t that these traits do not have their legitimate place in his life; it is merely that they were not part of the common language we spoke in the way that literature and writing and art and other things were. So, even if you accept this book at face value as a genuine communication from Hemingway, you must not expect it to be the final word. Any new combination of traits that contacted him would encounter a somewhat different person. And this is as it should be.
I no longer get up before dawn, eager to have a talk with Papa Hemingway, as I did for so many happy, fulfilling months. I miss that, but life goes on. The very process of putting together the book imposed some distance, but in any case our shared task was accomplished, as best we could accomplish it, and so he and I have moved on to other things. But what a gift, my God! To spend so much time talking to Hemingway, and Jung, and even Abraham Lincoln, and to do so not as acolyte but as co-worker – what a wonderful experience!
This won’t be the book that Gertrude Stein wished she could read, but you’ll get at least a little of that here, Hemingway’s commentary on Hemingway (and other things), from the life we come to by way of the grave.