When David Poynter led me to Joseph Smallwood, and Smallwood led me to Lincoln and Jung, I realized that who we can communicate with probably is limited more by our assumption that it can’t be done than by any other factor, except perhaps lack of resonance between us and those we might like to talk to. To an extent that is surprising to me, looking back, I spent 2006 contacting various people I had read about and cared about. This long, long talk with Joseph P. Kennedy – two talks in the same day, actually – is an example.
I know it is the fashion to dismiss Joe Kennedy, but I think that’s a real mistake. He was a realist, from the tip of his toes to the top of his red head. Read this and see what you think.
Now, you may be asking yourself, what does all this gossip have to do with the TMI experience. If instead of thinking of it as gossip, or as autograph-hunting, you see it instead as a different kind of google search for information otherwise unavailable – and if you come to believe that this is a human ability and you can do it too – well, it changes things.
I don’t know of any way to encourage people to try it that is more effective than personal example. If I can do it, maybe you can do it, what do you think?
But I found the connection and the information valuable in its own right, and I hope at least some of you will too.
Monday May 15, 2006
F: Yesterday I found a book of Rita’s – Winter Kills by Richard Condon. A roman a clef, sort of, but mostly his idea on what has happened (as of 1974) to the country. The John F. Kennedy assassination and cover up and various sequential contradictory cover stories – as a means of confusion. There are clues to what he thinks, for those who can recognize them – Don Carlo Fortunato, for instance, of Naples, formerly of New York. Charlie Lucky, in other words: Lucky Luciano.
I read all of Winter Kills feeling pretty sure that the big surprise ending was going to be a revelation that the father had killed the son. Got talked out of it for about a chapter. Sure enough. But great stress on the first eleven months of the presidency – eleven months from the inauguration takes us to Joe Kennedy’s stroke.
Joe Kenney’s life reveals the corruption of his times. Say –
F: Well, Mr. Kennedy, do you have any interest in talking to me?
JPK: Because you’re nobody, you mean? Well, there isn’t anybody in my old world who’s more nobody than a dead man. So join the club.
You want to know what – how I felt? What made me tick? I can see your judgments about me. I won’t say you’re wrong, you’re learning. I had a clearer view of what’s what than you do, that’s all. I had a better seat and I made sure I kept it. The world I grew up in wasn’t for softies, and I wasn’t about to be left behind.
You know how much pious crap is spouted by society – it’s all so much pretentious horseshit. You know, yourself – you’ve said it more than once – that what people really take seriously are money and death. You don’t put it that way but that’s what it amounts to. Well – I always knew it. I didn’t buy the bunk. Roosevelt and all those guys that were born rich – could they have done what I did? And I made sure my sons could have done it too if they’d had to. I wanted them tough and strong and wide-open-eyed, and by God that’s what I got. Teddy the least of course, but that’s because he was the baby, and it didn’t seem to matter so much then.
Life is funny. It takes you places you never thought you’d go. I figured Joe would be the success of the family. I expected to spend twenty years making him president. Looking at it now, I can see probably he wouldn’t have made it. Another Joe Kennedy by name wouldn’t have helped, for one thing. And he didn’t have what Jack had. People might have been dazzled by him but they wouldn’t have been bowled over. If his life had gone the way Jack’s did and he’d been killed in mid-career, I don’t see how his picture would be on the walls of poor people all over the world. Of course I didn’t see it then, nobody could and who would have guessed any of it?
Nobody stops to think what I thought when Jack got killed. At most they think what would Joe have thought? And Bobby. It might have been easier if I’d been over here when they went – but maybe I needed to experience it there, I don’t know.
F: Well, what did you think? I was thinking you’d died before either one of them was killed, then I remembered that you hadn’t.
JPK: No. that book you just read, I know it was fiction but it’s a lot of crap. The guy thinks I’d put anything in front of my family, that just says more about him than me. That’s like saying I’d put something in front of my right arm. Sometimes you have to, because it’s the only way to save something and you have to choose what to lose, but you don’t lop off your family for the theoretical chance to make more money. Jesus Christ, what is money for? It’s so you can have a good life and give your family a good life, and have enough to protect yourself. And of course the more you have the more you need to protect, but it isn’t the same as saying that you want more, more, more for its own sake. Not unless you’re a horse’s ass or you can’t think of anything else to do but keep playing the game as if the game was life.
You remember somebody wrote that I was playing classical music and my [“employees?” “friends?” I couldn’t decide which was the right word] didn’t like it and I said “the trouble with you bastards is you don’t have any culture.” They told that story figuring that my saying the word “bastards” showed that I didn’t have any culture. That says worlds about them. I had culture; what I didn’t have was WASP manners. And that’s a whole different thing. A manner is a way of fitting in and showing certain others that you fit in. I got through Harvard all right. I could fit in when I needed to. But what I wasn’t, and what I had no interest in pretending to be, was a WASP. I was a red-headed Irishman, likely to kick the pillars down if I was crossed, and I didn’t let them forget it, and I’ll tell you why. If I hadn’t, they wouldn’t have let me forget it! It’s like laughing at yourself first except I wasn’t laughing, I was stopping them from putting me into an ethnic box by putting myself half-in, half-out.
Now, my boys, they might have been English, especially Jack. I raised them to come from the right schools and meet the right people and I was prominent enough and rich enough and colorful enough – and don’t think I didn’t work at that sometimes! – that I got them s sort of exception. They were as Irish as Aunt Bridget when it was convenient, and as English or as upper American as Macmillan when it was convenient, and neither thing was entirely true or entirely false. What they were, and you’ll understand this from your feeling about your own family, what they were was Kennedys first and everything else got tacked on.
Made their own rules? Hell yes, and who do you suppose taught them to? In this world, I’d tell them, you have to make your own rules or live by somebody else’s.
Now, there isn’t any use pretending or fooling yourself into thinking that other people’s rules were made for anything but the convenience of the people making them. Like laws, like the rules of a club, like social etiquette – anything you can think of including morality and the ten commandments that everybody refers to and nobody can name or follow – it was all made up by somebody for some reason. I don’t mean exactly that one person made up any one rule, even laws. But there just isn’t and can’t be an impartial body that makes up rules that don’t favor anybody and come out for everybody’s benefit. Maybe God could do it but he doesn’t seem to have done it. So you’re on your own, really, and the main thing is whether you realize it. That’s what I taught my boys and I’d say they turned out all right, wouldn’t you?
F: So – when you saw them killed?
JPK: I didn’t actually see it, that was a mercy. What did I think? What did I feel? Well, here I am beyond the grave, I suppose there’s no harm telling.
I don’t know if you realize it but I was a very emotional man. I was in touch with myself very well. I know people think I was cold as ice, but they’re confusing cool judgment with lack of passion. Jack, same way. Well, you can see it maybe in stories about my temper – people don’t always think to connect a strong temper with strong feelings, I don’t know why. Yes I do: They think the temper comes out of an ego being blocked. But that’s too simple. And – people forget, and of course whose who never knew me don’t know it – I had enormous self-control. When reason and judgment said I had to sit on it, I sat on it, and maybe it showed and maybe it didn’t, but I was in control, not my temper. Even if I blew up, I didn’t blow up in a way to ruin anything, you understand?
How do you think I reacted? First of all, he was my son. Just like Joe, all that preparation, all that careful molding of character and experience, all that pride I had in how he’d turned out – and he was gone. It’s a bitter thing for a man to bury his children. Jack had opened a side of himself to me after my stroke that I hadn’t seen since he was a very little boy. He had been openly loving and affectionate again without what I suddenly realized was a caution, a reserve. I guess he’d spent his whole life a little bit in fear of me, or of my disapproval, anyway. And once that was gone – once there wasn’t anything I could do or say – that soft side of him came out to me again. I hated for that to be killed, too.
People think I might have been devastated that a Kennedy wasn’t in the White House any more, but that just shows that they don’t understand anything. With Jack gone, why bother? We had done it; we were at the peak and Jack’s martyrdom – for what else was it? – had sealed it. Every ambition I had had for the family I had fulfilled on January 20, 1961. Everything after that wasn’t aimed at achieving anything; it was aimed at what it would do for them to achieve it, if you see the difference. If Bobby could have gotten my opinion and I’d been up to it, I would have told him not to run for president in 1968 or ever. There wasn’t any need, and it wouldn’t do any good. But Bobby probably wouldn’t have listened anyway; that isn’t why he ran for president.
Here’s a theme for you. My stroke liberated Jack; Jack’s murder liberated Bobby; Bobby’s murder liberated Ted, though people don’t see it. That is the downside, as you call it, to family expectations. The reason I bring it us is that after 1963 Bobby got moved farther and farther toward total rejection of the unfairness of the way things were. I could have told him that no one man can change things much, and that if he did start to change things he wouldn’t last. But Bobby probably wouldn’t have listened. He was awfully strong-headed.
I was awfully proud of what Jack had accomplished because you know it was pretty much against his grain. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if one reason people loved him as a politician was because he didn’t seem like a politician. Well, he wasn’t, not really. He learned the game and he played it as well as anybody could, but without me in the background he never would have gotten too far because he was too pure. And Bobby was even purer.
You don’t think so? Well, think again. Those boys had been to Harvard after exclusive prep schools and life as a prominent public figure’s son. They fit in, in a way I hadn’t been able to because I was the son of saloon keepers. Jack, especially, was an intellectual by temperament. He loved reading and he loved thinking about things you might not credit if I told you. He was like the second son in royalty, you see, and he could afford to be his own man. And then came the war, and his whole life there was all that sickness. It wasn’t the same kind of life I’d had at all. He didn’t need to do those things, because I had done them for him! For him and his brothers and sisters. What would be the point in my educating him into the seamy side of things when I’d made more money than he would ever need?
And Bobby, you know, seriously thought about becoming a priest. There is a famous picture of my family that shows Bobby at age 10 or 12, I think and that picture says it all. If he had been really set on being a priest I wouldn’t have stopped him – you can always use a cardinal in the family! – but I was glad he went a different way. He was a very passionate boy. What he would have done in a celibate society escapes me. Well, I don’t suppose he’d have been able to stand it. Or maybe he would have been able to sublimate it all, I don’t know. But I was still glad he didn’t go into the church. Jack needed him, for one thing.
F: Thank you. Loads of questions, but I’m tired now. (11:50)
Monday May 15, 2006
(8:10 pm) Mr. Kennedy can you tell me who killed John F. Kennedy and why and how?
JPK: You aren’t going to win any friends by putting this on the internet.
F: I don’t care. I feel like they ruined the lives of millions of people and I would love to be able to say so.
JPK: You just are not even remotely aware what you would be doing. You still assume that there is an abstract justice and far play that would protect you, and there isn’t. If Bobby couldn’t tell people the truth with the protection his circumstances gave him at the time why do you think you could get protection just because you are unknown and helpless? It’s a beautiful catch-22, you see. If you know and remain unknown, you are no threat. If you know and you are known you can be discredited. There isn’t a need to murder everybody who knows, and in any case there are different ways to murder people. Ask Clinton about assassination by reputation.
F: I see the point. So what are we to do?
JPK: Do? Live your lives with your eyes open. Naming names can’t bring back Jack, and it can’t bring you back to 1963, either. Your life is lived as it is, not as it might theoretically have been.
F: So forget it?
JPK: No! Not at all. But you know the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold”? Wait. They always go too far, just as you say.
F: They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.
JPK: Sure. And they’re going to wind up like flies on a carcass. They think their best bet is to keep people numbed and sedated with bread and circuses. How well did that work out for the Romans?
F: I don’t think of myself as particularly blood-thirsty but I’d like to see the bastards suffer.
JPK: Dig two graves. [An old saying says, when you go to seek revenge, dig two graves.]
F: I know the saying. And I agree with it. But –
JPK: Nobody gets away with anything. It isn’t up to you to control the world any more than it is to them, though they think so. Nobody can control it, it’s too big – you know all this.
F: It seems sort of shameful to sit doing nothing even if it isn’t my family or my fight. It was my life, though.
JPK: What’s the point of getting into a fight you have to lose? You’d help nobody and you’d either have no effect at all or you’d get squashed like a bug. What’s your percentage?
F: If you had been well and vigorous, would you have taken it sitting down?
JPK: Bobby was the toughest guy I ever met, including me, and he had to take it.
F: It’s funny, this isn’t what I ever would have imagined your reaction to be.
JPK: Then, maybe you aren’t making it up. My reaction is just realism. It’s the difference between being a combat veteran and being somebody who has seen a lot of war movies. There isn’t any comparison. It’s real life versus make-believe. It’s the way things are versus the way things ought to be. I can hate, but what good does it do to turn hatred into self-destruction?
F: Even after they’ve systematically whittled down your family like Nero and Germanicus?
JPK: People get killed in war; they get killed by tyrants. There’s a difference between recognizing what is and agreeing with it or approving of it. If somebody stole a million dollars from me and did it legally and I couldn’t get it back, what was I supposed to do? What is there to do but remember and wait for an opportunity? But maybe the opportunity never comes – should I throw my life away brooding over the million bucks or should I just go on?
F: I understand. It does make sense.
JPK: The truth about it has been told long ago, and eventually it will be sorted out from all the lies that were planted around it. But you know what, it still won’t bring Jack back, it won’t bring 1963 back, and it won’t bring back what they broke, right out in public, though it took a while longer for people to realize it had been broken.
F: People’s trust in their government.
JPK: People’s blindness! There’s nothing going on now that hasn’t always gone on, except that the illusion is gone, and so people are sitting it out, and that changes the game. When these people come looking for citizens to ride to their rescue against the invading huns, who’s going to be stupid enough to saddle up? Some will. Some will do it to try to protect their families or even their idea of what America was supposed to become. But mainly people are going to say one thing: “You own it, you protect it.” That’s when you’ll get your revenge, but it may not taste very sweet.
F: Surely you wouldn’t advocate our defending these bums?
JPK: You see? In your reaction you show the effect it had. In 1962 you would have said “defend ourselves.” Now you say it would be defending “them” because you know it isn’t your country in any meaningful sense, no matter how you loved it. When the majority comes to feel that way, there’s the end waiting to happen. That doesn’t mean you will necessarily like the following act, though.
F: Here is my scenario – critique it? Then nobody can say I said you said it. It seems to me the mafia or part of it had to be involved, and the Secret Service or part of it, and probably the FBI and intelligence agencies – one of them – part of them in both cases, as few as possible.
I’ve never seen Johnson as a prime mover even though he was a prime beneficiary. But Nixon was in Dallas the day before, and I’ve always wondered why. HL Hunt was in Texas, and the Bush family. It seems clear that Nixon was never high enough to be the prime mover. The Hunts and Bushes and I don’t run in the same social circles so I don’t know their place in it if any. Beyond that I can’t go.
JPK: That isn’t bad. What else do you need? The underworld, the Secret Service, at least part of one intelligence agency, and an unknown prime mover – who by the way probably did not decide to do this on a whim or without consultation. So what would be the use in going farther?
F: Well, I’ll name one for sure: J. Edgar Hoover.
JPK: Oh he was aware, but only in a deniable way. You can bet on it that Edgar wasn’t going to put his head into a noose if things went wrong. But he could outlast Bobby for another five years or until he died if need be. Edgar would be silently cheering them on, but only from way out in the sidelines.
F: Hence some of Bobby’s guilt? That between Hoffa and Hoover he’d given two powerful figures reason to kill his brother.
JPK: Bobby knew better. He knew it wasn’t Johnson either. Bobby could hate, but he could hate and think. He didn’t have to chose one or the other.
F: Didn’t Bobby see it coming if he ran for president in 1968?
JPK: Of course he did. He saw it as a threat but he figured he’d be safe until November anyway. They outthought him on that one.
F: He was being reckless?
JPK: He was taking a chance because he really believed he could help the country change, and he believed only he could do it because people would trust him, as Jack’s friend and heir. He couldn’t accept that there wasn’t anything he could do. His whole life told him different.
F: Well, I don’t know if I could talk to him. You know what I feel, just please pass the message on. By the way, do you communicate? Does a family act as a family over there? When you’ve formed such strong bonds here, do they continue to affect you there?
[Different “feel” enters here.]
RFK: The thing you’re feeling about contacting me should make you see what it was for Jack and me – for all of us – growing up with dad.
F: The wariness, you mean?
RFK: Yes. You love me or your image of me and at the same time you remember my reputation and you wonder if I’m going to swat you. That was life with dad!
F: Well, I did love you, it’s true, and I did feel that hesitation. The middle class gets pretty thoroughly versed in being snubbed by those who have more money or position or whatever. But God bless you for really caring about the poor.
RFK: Except for my family, that was the most warm satisfying part of my life. That all these strangers who had nothing next to what I’d always taken for granted as my right should love me – at first I said it was for Jack, because the idea overwhelmed me that it could be for me. When I finally got to believe it, it was a new day for me, a second life. I know you will believe that, but I’ll bet not many of the people you show it to will.
F: You underestimate your own impact, I think. We loved you because you loved your brother as we did, but we came to love you even more when you came out of that enforcer shell and showed us that you really could see – like the time you went to Mississippi. Your broke fully as many hearts as your brother did and for the same reason. Not only the cutting short of so much promise, but there was a sense there, that grew with time, that you got killed just because you were trying to turn America from violence and hatred to what we were supposed to have been, and maybe still could become. So – thank you.
Tell me, is it a burden – and if so, how does it manifest? – to have people love you after you’re dead?
RFK: It’s a matter of definition, really. If we stay with the soul we are impacted, if we move on, we aren’t. I’m not the person to ask about all this.
F: All right. Do you entirely agree with your father’s views on what’s going to happen or do you think it could be turned around?
RFK: I believe in miracles, but I believe miracle happen because people work for them. I think it would be a shame if people gave up on America just because two more people got killed for trying to do what they thought was right.
F: Okay, but things look pretty bleak from here. They seem to have everything all sewed up.
RFK: That’s an illusion. That’s what the East Germans thought too, but once the threat of Soviet intervention was gone it took what, three, four, five candlelit marches a month apart and the government collapsed. When they lose the ability to run things by money, there will be an opportunity. I hope it won’t be wasted in guns and rioting. What you’re doing could be an immense help, so don’t quit.
F: No, I’m actually starting to take it for granted, between times when I startle myself by saying – I could talk to him! In any case I can’t think what else to do.
RFK: The effective technique will involve imagination and the creation of forms.
F: Thank you. (9:45)