Hemingway — a matter of focus

Friday, October 9, 2015
F: 4:25 a.m. Okay, Papa, I am ready if you are. Where are we going?
EH: We’re still looking at the emotional facts behind my break with Pauline after Martha came into my life, and I got involved in a war for the second time, still not quite a warrior, but no longer a kid. We have had to go way back to see it, but as I keep saying, we’re getting there.
In Paris with Hadley, I went from being a wanna-be to being a force. In Paris without Hadley, I had to face myself in other ways. I had bitched my former life – now what? The artist was all right. I was on firm ground there. But what of the rest of me? Naturally, I didn’t know.
F: You didn’t really want to marry Pauline, did you?

EH: You can’t quite say that, but you can’t quite not say it, either. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I did and didn’t want the same thing. I wanted my life with Hadley, but not at the cost of giving up Pauline, for that attraction was in full flood-tide. I wanted to live with Pauline as lovers, but I hesitated to do it as man and wife, but – another but – I couldn’t do some things because they weren’t done.
F: Weren’t done in Oak Park, you mean.
EH: Yes, but I didn’t have any distance on it, in those days. For all the experiences I had had, and for all the strides I’d made in my career, I was still only in my twenties. It’s easy to forget that, or overlook it. Intellectually, and in terms of my professional skills, I was experienced beyond my years. But emotionally, especially in coming to terms with what had happened to me and what was continuing to happen with me, I was slower to develop.
F: Hadley said somewhere, I think, that she should have just let you have your threesome until you got tired of it – only you wouldn’t have approved of it as a lifestyle, only as something surreptitious.
EH: That’s you paraphrasing her, but you can see what she meant. I could do things unacknowledged, but couldn’t do the same things if they were out in the open. Again, I didn’t realize it.
F: I know you don’t like generalizing in this way, but I’m inclined to say something like, your conscious mind was one thing, your unconscious mind was something very different, at odds with it in certain ways, so that your life could move in certain directions only so long as you weren’t fully aware of doing so. You had to have your eyes half-shut in order to move in certain directions.
EH: Yes, and that’s what I just said, but we should look at it a bit. It’s your old accustomed question of “which you.” The boy Ernest Hemingway had certain ideas and daydreams and ideals; he thought he would shape his life. But behind the 3D boy was another, deeper presence, what you might call the larger pattern of Ernest Hemingway.
F: What Jung called his personality number two.
EH: When you look at our lives from outside the 3D context, you can see that our lives are larger than any given moment, any given set of moments. Well, which is more “you,” the present moment or the sum-total of present moments? The answer is, they’re both “you” and it’s like changing the focus on a microscope, which one is more “real” – it is a matter of judgment, almost a matter of convenience, which [one] you see as real. Our day-by-day, moment-by-moment existence is life at one focus, the free-will focus; our overall pattern, our trend, our center of gravity, is life at another focus, the determined and bounded.
Not one or the other, except in any given focus. They are both in operation, all the time. So the kid that I was might have one idea of his life but he might find it being resisted or overcome by, or merged with, what will seem to him outside forces, and those forces are really the background and framing of his life, his non-3D larger existence.
Now, in a way, that’s only a reframing of what people already experience and know as the conscious versus the unconscious. The reason to reframe it is that the traditional way to see it makes the unconscious motivations and forces seem chaotic and shapeless – and therefore something to be resisted if you are to have charge of your life – but in fact it is another focus of your life that you ignore or override at your peril.
F: And suddenly I see where you are going with this! Interesting.
EH: Go ahead, spell it out as you see it now.
F: Well, you just led me to see a connection with your religious impulses. I’m not sure I can put it into words, but it is something like this. The people trying to live according to consciousness decoupled from their own unconscious wellsprings were, in effect, trying to freeze the focus of the microscope only on the 3D. so, they lost touch with their larger purpose in being. The people who did maintain contact with their larger purpose, call it, did so by living differently. That’s the appeal to you of Spain, and peasants, and Catholicism, I guess. It wasn’t really any of those things, but the underlying connection that you valued.
EH: I hesitate to say yes to that, because of course I wasn’t doing so knowing why. But I can’t say no, either, because that is a valid way to see it, one that will bring us farther than the somewhat sterile and misleading Protestant / Catholic dichotomy.
F: Oh, and I made a note to myself to point out that in yesterday’s discussion you didn’t mention Jews, just Catholics and Protestants.
EH: Well, that is an interesting question in itself, but it doesn’t quite fit in this framework. I was making a distinction in backgrounds that would clarify relationships, even if the distinctions couldn’t be absolute. You have to simplify arguments, sometimes, if you are going to bring points into clarity. We can talk about my relationship to Jews and Jewish characteristics and generalizations that I mistook for characteristics, but that doesn’t fit in this discussion. Those were social relationships, not religious ones. And even explaining that statement would take us off-target, so let’s defer it.
F: All right.
EH: If you can see, now, what was really going on in my life, you can see a struggle that was damned important, and not just for the kid at the center of it, because what price Ernest Hemingway, as a force?
F: I do see that. You could almost say, the boy had to be sacrificed somewhat if the larger pattern of that remarkable life was to be manifested.
EH: Yes only don’t carry it too far. The hardest thing in the world is to square the circle, but that’s what you have to do if you’re going to understand. Life is free will and it is determination. It is individual decision and it is being carried along by a stronger current. It is choosing timestreams and living with the consequences, and it is being tossed into the stream and swimming for your life. Both. Not one or the other. Both. It is a matter of how you turn the knob on the microscope, which one you’re most aware of.
All right. Now, keeping that in mind, realize that it was absolutely critical that the boy find a way to connect as deeply as he could both with the 3D world (and all its accompanying temptations and problems and delights and pains) and the non-3D world with its often puzzling but always powerful thrusts to do things that contradicted other parts of himself.
F: They say our lives never make sense going forward, but always make sense looking backward.
EH: “Always” and “never,” you were told, are long times. But sure, and how else can it be. We live our lives from the 3D focus, and that’s the design of life, after all, but looking back we see the footprints of our larger life – whichever way we interpret it – and we see that we weren’t stumbling around unassisted at all. It’s just focus.
F: Running out of time here.
EH: But we’ve made a vital point, if you’ll look at it. I realize we stopped the narrative, but we haven’t stopped the exposition. Time for more chills and spills later.
F: Funny. Okay, so if I’m getting it right, you are saying that consciously you were adrift and confused but semi-consciously, let’s say, you were feeling your way toward something, and unconsciously your larger pattern was nudging you toward interim beliefs that would help move you into the internal relationships with reality that you would need.
EH: A pleasure to work with somebody who gets the ramifications without having to be force-fed. That’s where we’re going.
F: Next time, then. Thanks as always.

2 thoughts on “Hemingway — a matter of focus

  1. From EH: “Life is free will and it is determination. It is individual decision and it is being carried along by a stronger current. It is choosing timestreams and living with the consequences, and it is being tossed into the stream and swimming for your life. Both. Not one or the other. Both.”

    Together with your last paragraph, this hits home on the subject of the combination of free will and predetermination that goes into our ultimate path. What’s most interesting is that it’s really not abstract at all; it’s two different aspects of the same entity, ourselves, functioning in their own territory.

    Yesterday, in notes to myself, I wrote: “The greater being is amidst all consciousness and at least aware of it if not tuned in, and is ever seeking change and movement in ways we can’t relate to. Meanwhile the mostly unaware “personality” is trying to hit a golf ball straight, or trying to get a sense of itself and its place in all this, and in the process forming a bond among it’s constituents.”

    Now I’m finding those different aspects (and all that’s in between) of myself moving consciously “closer” to each other.
    John

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