Hemingway on direct perception

Monday, October 12, 2015
F: 3:30 am. As I sat down with my coffee and added the date to the journal, I heard, “bullfighting.”
EH: That’s right. And now perhaps you can see where it fits in.
F: Well, tell me.
EH: Gertrude Stein steered me to Pamplona and the festival of San Fermin, and it was a tremendous opening-up for me. You saw it in The Sun Also Rises.
F: I did. Many do not, though.
EH: I’m going to try to make it clearer. You and I have been down this road before, but every new look at a thing makes it clearer, because each time it is a little more familiar going into it, so more detail and nuance can be discerned.
F: The Sun Also Rises contrasts the rotted-out, shell-shocked state of “modern” Europe with the old, enduring medieval, and older than medieval, mind-set of peasants and “primitive” people that coexisted with, and endured, the modern veneer that dominated it.
EH: Yes, there is the description of Americans vis a vis Europeans, but you will notice, the Americans don’t come off any better than the Europeans. Whether rich and bored or in some way maimed by their experience of the war, they are not sound in the way the peasants are, although they may be sounder than the Europeans.
This is not literary criticism, and I am not out to defend my work from various misunderstandings, but I bring up The Sun because reading it can help people to understand the point I am about to make. There is nothing so pointed as concrete example.

Spain came as a terrific shock to me, entirely unexpected, and entirely salutary. Something deep within me first saw itself mirrored, and rose closer to the surface. And although it is simple enough to convey essence to essence, as has happened between us in this manner, it is not so easy to convey by means of words or even stories. But the shock of seeing corridas may serve as example.
Bulls weigh 1000 pounds, they are as quick and agile as cats, as smart, and they are born to fight. They have needle-sharp horns that they use the way a boxer uses his fists, right-left-right. They are tremendously arrogant, and concede nothing to anybody.
Against this, the bullfighter, on foot, armed only with a sword and a cape, aided only by the tactics of the picadors to bring the bull’s head within range and by the established routine that prevents the bull from learning the tricks of the cape.
A man on foot facing a thousand-pound animal bred for ferocity, maddened by confinement, and deliberately incited to attack. And the bullfighter on his best day, in his best moment, shaves his margin of safety until the spectator cannot bear it. (Or, he fakes doing it by the acquired tricks of hundreds of years, and preserves his own skin but cheats the spectators of their moment – and don’t think the spectators don’t know it, and don’t make their anger clear.)
This is not about bullfighting any more than it is about literature. It is about emotion, and purity of perception.
F: I know, Papa, but I have a dismal knowledge that half our readers have stopped listening to you by now, enmeshed in their own political opinions about bullfighting and killing and animal rights and all.
EH: But if we don’t bring it to consciousness, how can they deal with it?
F: They can’t. All right, proceed.
EH: At some point we will have to deal with the changes in perception of the minds and souls of animals in the century that has elapsed since I went to Spain right after the war. That will deal with the larger questions about hunting and fishing that I know you have had, as well. But for now, let’s keep our eyes focused on one thing – not the pros and cons of bullfighting in 1923, any more than the politics of France or the U.S. or the emptiness of lives centered on boredom and idleness. My focus here is on the different world the Spaniards lived in, as contrasted with Oak Park in one way, or Paris in another. This is entirely about how they experienced and participated in the world, and has nothing to do with politics or economics or religion or sport or commerce except as such things manifested the difference.
Southern Europe lived in a different world. The individual person, day by day, generation by generation, lived in a different world. I don’t know, you try it.
F: I haven’t had much luck in trying to say it. The words mean one thing to us, and maybe another thing to those hearing them, because they think they already know what we’re saying, and that doesn’t leave them any room to hear it anew.
EH: That’s why you write stories that show it, and hope for the best.
F: Why you did, anyway. The best I have done to try to clear people’s window of perception is to put it into terms that are pretty abstract, and I’m afraid I lose them there too. But it’s worth another try. My camera experience may help, come to think of it.
EH: You see? Specifics, not generalizations, and then you hope they can connect the dots.
F: That’s how I had to learn to read Thoreau, come to think of it – he would have two sentences that didn’t seem to belong together, and my working out the connection is how I got inside his thoughts.
Anyway, about ten years ago I bought my first digital camera, and one morning I took a walk to see if there was anything to see. That is, I was walking along a dirt road on a sunny morning, camera in hand, looking around at the world, and I was puzzled to recognize in me a state of being that brought me back to when I was a boy. I realized, it was a state of generalized openness and expectation, unclouded or I should say unfiltered by the screen of thoughts, associations, scripts, memories, scenarios, etc. that typically kept me at one remove from the physical world. I recaptured the feeling I had had as a boy, that anything could happen, that I was right there.
EH: That’s it. And something similar happened to me when I experienced these people living right there as opposed to the life I saw even among the artists of Paris, let alone the wastrels.
That living on the very point of the moment is the attraction of bullfighting to the torero, or of war to the soldier, or of anything that brings you to the edge, as opposed to the dullness that creeps into life too settled.
F: But this still doesn’t get it. Now you’ve triggered automatic reactions about war and guns and machismo.
EH: I know, but can it be confronted by not confronting it? If they won’t set their opinions aside long enough to try to understand me as I understand myself, or as you understand me, even, they can’t get much from this.
Read every word I wrote. You won’t find one word glorifying war, because I didn’t glorify it, and I saw through it, and I hated it. But I saw what could shine through it, which isn’t the same thing.
F: I’ll find your Fukushima thought and I’ll put it in here.
EH: Yes do. You heard that clearly.
F: [On April 14, 2011, while I was engaged in a routine household chore (which occupied my surface mind) I got this from Papa, nearly in direct, specific words rather than my usual knowing-which-translates-into-words. “If you want to understand my attitude toward war, just combine your admiration for the men who are doing their heroic best at Fukushima, and your sympathy and pity for them and their families, with your anger and disgust at the decisions that made this all possible, and the people (and their motives) who made the decisions. Nothing is different.”]
EH: This is not about politics or statecraft or humanitarian concerns, any more than it is about biology or nuclear physics. I am concentrating on one thing, and one thing only, and that is a state of consciousness that determines the world you live in. Spain in 1923 enabled me to see life more from the outside than I had ever been. I had already seen through Oak Park’s values, but Spain showed me a way through the artistic world of Paris, no less. It almost showed me the older civilization – the way of being – that predated the nation-state, that predated Christianity. Everything that we called “modern” and (until the war) had supposed was the pinnacle of social progress – evolution – had been superimposed on this very slowly changing peasant society. They weren’t unaffected, but they weren’t converted into moderns, either. They rode buses and trains, they read newspapers (if they could read at all) and they believed in the things of the church, however loosely. But at their core they were closer to the real world than the Northerners were, or than their own ricos were. (Except, that division is too simple, too. A rich Spaniard could be as well-rooted as a poor one. And there was the middle-class too. Let’s forget economics here.)
It wasn’t an intellectual understanding. Nor did I understand it very well, for many years, for it had to work its way through many filters. It was a visceral response to a sudden glimpse of a more authentic, less buffered, way to experience the world, more like my camping trips of my boyhood than anything else I could compare it to.
F: Our hour is up, but like Lincoln I am loath to close. But I don’t know if we could get any closer to it even if we kept going.
EH: That isn’t really up to us. We have put it out there, and those who have the receptors can grasp it if they will make the effort. If they won’t, they will merely stuff the thought into some comfortable pigeonhole. And of course if they don’t have the receptors, there isn’t anything they can do.
F: It continues to surprise me – I suppose you’re getting tired of hearing it – to sit down having no idea where we will go, and emerge an hour later with a continuation of an argument or exposition that is still only shadowy to me. Thanks as always for making the effort to communicate, Papa, and we’ll hope that people listen. Till next time, then.

13 thoughts on “Hemingway on direct perception

  1. Hello Frank.

    What a coincidence ! This last communication between E.H. and you, showing up on the screen exactly at the same time I had pushed the button to send my last response.

    Telepathy ?

    B&B, Inger Lise.

  2. Hi Frank,

    Just to let you know, as one of the readers… No problem hearing EH out, whether it is bull fighting or war or whatever here. I am reading behind the scenerios to what may be trying to be communicated.

    What I am getting is about how a shift in how we perceive that which is around us changes our lives, what life is to us, what we are to ourselves.

    I relate it to my own experiences traveling with the bedouin in the Sinai desert. It woke me up somehow to Life, just Life, without all the trappings of the modern world that distract our perceptions, that keep us in a sense sleep walking through What Is Here in any given moment.

    Another shift in perception came for me during Gateways when we shifted into Focus 12 and walked around in nature. MAGNIFICENCE. Vibrancy. Aliveness.

    Another example, is William Whitecloud’s trips into the bush of Swaziland. The idea being that taking people into a living world where there isn’t anything that triggers their accustomed thought patterns, but instead all sorts of things that trigger new pathways of perception, will reset their awareness of what life can be for them.


    1. T.E. Lawrence had something similar happen during World War I. As he put it in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, he was up before his mind awoke, and he saw the world as it is, and not as it is “made typical by thought,” he said.

  3. Frank,
    You called it a couple of sessions ago:
    “ … that’s why we’re going through your life looking at one or another situation, isn’t it? To provide specific examples of something not easily said or seen.” (10/10/15). In this last session EH remarks about the importance of specifics to illuminate theory … these guys upstairs know their stuff!

    For me those things ‘not easily said or seen’ have to do with perception/worldview/awareness/understanding. EH calls it “a state of consciousness that determines the world you live in.”; your phrase ‘a place to stand’ sums it up into a useful ‘shorthand’. As you said, there is much “not easily said or seen”, but your work helps me with my awareness/understanding of one’s present place, recognition the ‘old’ place is changing/has disappeared, vision and insight into one’s next ‘place’, and being open to guidance through all of the above and more.

    As always, my appreciation!

    1. And equally, as always my appreciation and gratitude for those of you who take this work seriously and work to apply it. That’s very rewarding to me, and pays for a lot of early-morning writing and typing!

  4. Following up on some “leads” provided by Hemingway through Frank, on this Columbus Day I tried doing a little exploring myself to see if I could follow up on some “pings” I’ve been getting concerning the nature of who is experiencing this life “I” am living. Of course, it all depends on how you look at “I”.

    It is only one perspective, and certainly not forwarded as “the correct one”. If anyone has another view, please chime in.

    Version 1.0 Not very long ago, it would have been simple for me to say with conviction, me (John), the ego consciousness of this life is doing the living. The conviction came from being basically oblivious to any greater reality.

    Version 2.0 As greater awareness and understanding came, that old 1.0 concept changed into, me (John the ego consciousness focus of a joint mind of strands and spirit) is choosing which path to experience, and my greater being is the beneficiary as the highly connected non-3D side of me.

    For background, below are some excerpts about the ego consciousness attributed to TGU, to Jung, and to Rita through Frank:

    TGU: The ego – the consciousness centering in 3D – is absolutely essential in its sphere, and is totally out of its depth when it attempts to be more than it is. Being the conductor of the symphony that is a human life is responsibility enough; there is nothing demeaning in recognizing that you are not also the composer, the other orchestra members, the audience, and the concert hall itself! You could not function at the scale of a being that could comprehend all that, but, consider: that totality could not exist without the identity of all its pieces, of which you are one. Nor is that all. The concert-hall – to continue the analogy – is but one building among many. Could it function as a railroad station as well? And even if it could,, should it not sigh that it cannot be an entire city? A country? A continent? We are pushing this to the bounds of the absurd deliberately, to ty to bring home to one and all of you that you belong where you belong. You function at your scale, and are there because you are needed. A toenail, a knee, a pancreas, are not interchangeable even if in the end they are built of the same ingredients. Neither are they capable of being what they are not.

    CGJ: That is a perfectly acceptable description of the situation, within certain limits. If you take what I described as the personal and the collective unconscious, and reinterpret them as your local and your extended connections to the great mind that is both very close and very transcendent, you get a good idea both of your human ability to access the infinite – for you do connect, and you can and do, receive guidance and assistance from the non-physical world – and, equally importantly, you get a clearer sense of the smallness of the human ego next to the half-suspected vastness of the self as it applies to any given person.

    But the point of the analogy is only to reinforce what I said all along, only in a new way that may be clearer in this new context: The ego is valid, it is appropriate, it is needed by the individual for him to establish and maintain a place in the world around him. Where it goes wrong is in identifying what the ego can know or experience as all that matters, all that is “real” and needs to be given proper consideration.

    As long as the ego recognizes its proper place in the scheme of thing it will be a proper mixture of legitimate pride and legitimate modesty, and all will go well.

    Now I have not forgotten the question on the floor. It may be answered various ways, but perhaps the simplest is to say, yes, you are right to suspect that your own view of yourself is inaccurate, but it would be even more correct to see it as partial, as necessarily partial (in both senses of the word) because you are living it from the inside and receive only glimpses from the exterior. But this is not to say there is anything wrong or undesirable or even capable of correction is this. That is just the way things are. There is a reason why you are the inadequately informed nerve center of that particular 3D being, you know! If the world wanted or needed or could accommodate an impartial ego running the mechanism, no doubt it would find a way to provide one.

    R: The physical self forms what we loosely call an ego, and that ego is conscious of what the senses report to it, plus what its reactions to its environment report to it as emotions. As long as the ego’s world remains bounded by such limits, you have a very small boat in a very big sea, terrified of storms, navigating at random, subject to course correction by emotional reaction to any stray circumstance. But when that ego realizes that it has a compass, everything changes, or can change, if the compass is intelligently used. The ego’s higher self (call it) not only can read the compass, it can connect to GPS. It not only knows where the boat is, it knows how it got there, and why, and where it set out for. And – stretching the analogy quite a bit, but true to life – the higher self knows that it is the cause as well as the experiencer of the circumstances the little boat finds itself in. Or, not quite. Let’s say, it recognizes that no storm or difficulty or anything that comes to be experienced is either random or purposeless.

    Version 3.0 Borrowing Frank’s phrase, after a Copernican Shift to a non-3D centric view of reality, it can be perceived that the ego consciousness is an inseparable formed part of the greater being, and the living is being done by the greater being.

    My Joint Mind: “You already know the connection is vast and intimate, between you in the 3D and you in the non-3D.  You’ve also been taught over and over again that divisions are for convenience, arbitrary.  So in this context, why wouldn’t it be a valid viewpoint that your life is being lived by your non-3D Self through your 3D body? 

    You can say that it is the greater being who is living your life through your body, with certain “limited delegated” decisions to the (physically) embedded subpart of itself (the ego consciousness).  

    (Ignoring alternates) There is only one body, and one set of senses, albeit that those senses are broadly dispersed. More important, your mind is not a closed room.  It is an open system where other minds can join in, like a hop on, hop off bus.  How are you getting this, if that wasn’t the case?  

    If it is possible to have a “joint mind” to acquire knowledge, is it not also likely that you would have a joint mind to “experience” what you experience? (In this sense, it was meant that the joint mind could have as part of it “part-timers” beyond the strands of its initial constitution.) 

    Can you imagine a gallery of (non-3D) “fans” gathered: “He made the decision to go up the chasm, off trail!  Don’t miss the fall!” (Referring to my NDE in which I should have died, but didn’t.) Not only do they gather to pick up the energies emanating from an event, but there is broader “direct participation” than you have previously thought. (Other minds join in to experience the event.)

    Does this weaken (further) the ego?  No.  The ego consciousness focus of your community of the greater mind still has its “authority and responsibility”.  But it is part of the overall consciousness, and it is not alone as thoughts are formed, and it is not alone when the experiences are registered.“ 

    Version 4.0: TBD!

    1. This is excellent work, John. I have copied it and printed it out (as i have done several times before) and filed among my daily conversations. Keep it up! And thanks for sharing it.

    2. It is absolutely amazing John, Thank you very much indeed,and ditto to what Frank says.

      And it is reminding me about the philosopher Ken Wilber, and his understatement in us being “The Integral Part of Everything.”

      I think it is very fascinating that we are both “the observer” and “the objects” about us all the time.
      Or, to put it another way: Us, both the Creator and the Created.

      It is a enormous responsibility if thinking it all over. Good to have Help-Mates… Guidance and such (“and such” can be interpreted in many ways by no doubt. Such as The Masters (The Higher Selves in the integral part of everything) who have walked The same Path before us.

      …steady, steady now…it is all simultaneous time.

      B&B,Inger Lise.
      P.S. Love is all there Is, the rest has been made up by us. We have to recreate-the invent of love (within the hologram).
      Our conscious creative abilities have made God in our image.
      Love having no “names”, it just IS. It CAN be “a state of Mind”…among choice(s). Love is The Creative Force used constructively (it is all science), while hate is the same force used destructively…. The middle way is to find the balance (in the midst of all “things”).

      I have to clean my house ! VERY symbolically in every way.

  5. John, thank you. You have rephrased concepts in a way that now makes it possible for me not to feel so manipulated by those non-3D connections. Thanks for posting.


    1. Frank, Inger Lise and Nancy, I appreciate the feedback. We do learn from each other, more than we realize consciously I suspect. Thanks.

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