Friday, November 13, 2015
F: 5:20 a.m. Seems fashionably late, not starting till now. All right, Papa, you’re on. The past few days have been different, and last night – all yesterday – was different, as we wrestled with what to do with this and other material. But I think I see my way on that. So, you said you were going to resume our trail you began some weeks ago now, centering on Martha’s disruption of your Key West life.
EH: I know it is difficult to hold in your minds extended arguments. And repeated summations slow the process down quite a bit, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But now that we have discussed living with a certain intensity, things yet to come may be a bit clearer.
When – if – you write about my life from shall we say an informed perspective, you will not concentrate on the external events that in any case are more competently addressed by other means, by other people. Your focus here as elsewhere is on the interface between the inner and outer worlds. So that’s what we’re pursuing here, by way of example. I don’t describe fishing trips, even the ones with Max that would particularly interest you, for two reasons. One, they are available elsewhere, but two – and far less obvious – the externals of such things are far less lighted-up, far less prominent, from the non-3D perspective.
F: I realize that as I was writing that sentence, which took a while, another part of my mind had some scenario going, something about fishing, I suppose, though I don’t much remember it.
EH: The process isn’t new, your greater awareness is. It has been growing over time but apparently it only becomes obvious to you every so often. You don’t run on one track, though you all think you do. And if you wanted to go into why, and how, we could do that some time. A fast hint: each of your strands has its own continued conscious life that proceeds even though it is now only a part of something larger. That sentence, in fact, could describe our lives.
The externals, as I was saying, do not appear in non-3D with the prominence they had in 3D, for the good and simple reason that they were always reflections, shadows, of reality, and with the liberation from 3D restrictions, they are no longer needed. So, don’t look for descriptions of the weather, the conversations, the fun or the quarrels or the price of fishing line or bait. Once in a while, yes, but a little goes a long way. You wouldn’t want it anyway. As I keep saying, what was your phone number forty or fifty years ago, and who cares?
You understand? Fully, I mean? Externals are reflections, and there is no need to settle for reflections when you can see the original. This, by the way, is what Plato’s cave refers to. But that isn’t my territory, nor yours.
Living in intensity as a day to day reality doesn’t say one thing about what you focus on. A racketeer or a pimp or – well, no need to move into lists, the point is, no matter how you are spending your life, it may be with great intensity or not. Intensity does not automatically mean a better or more worthwhile experience, any more than some of intensity’s side effects like fame or fortune or vitality, or anything, say anything about worthiness or altruism, or intelligence, or skill.
You understand? Intensity is not to be held up as if it were an absolute good, a goal by which to measure people’s success. And neither is ambition or intelligence or skill or – anything, really. Any attribute considered by itself as though it were sufficient to judge a lifetime is going to mislead. You don’t have any way to measure the abstract worth of a Hemingway in the 30s in Key West against his cock-fighting or deep-sea-fishing or bootlegging neighbors. He became famous and they did not. This says nothing about anything beyond, he became famous and they did not.
Now, I know you’re reading that and nodding in agreement and in a moment you will have forgotten all about it, or else you read it and say “ow can he say that” and – rejecting it – also forget it. But it is worth thinking about, or all your lives will be seen out of drawing.
F: Not everybody will know that expression: it means, distorted, out of perspective, not quite right. Stretched, say.
EH: So you are asking, about now, “What is all this? Today’s entry isn’t going anywhere; it is closer to talking about itself than anything else.” That is because you are forgetting that this is all about you, [who are] reading this, not about me. Hemingway is the peg your attention hangs from, but it is you that concerns you, no matter who you are or how inconspicuous you are or how unimportant you think yourself. You do not have the means to judge. Or, you do, but you don’t know you do, mostly. Mostly you judge by externals, which guarantees slippage.
My life at Key West was a very curious combination of authenticity, error, lack of coherence (call it that, until we explore it). If it could be discussed in any one word, I would, but it was a life of contradictions. (Maybe that is the word.)
F: Sorry, I went wandering.
EH: You know – anybody interested can know – the externals of my life there. What we’re interested in is the internal contradictions, or interplay, call it, that led to that meeting [with Martha Gellhorn] at Sloppy Joe’s. You understand that, you understand much of what followed, otherwise not.
Professionally I was doing well at the beginning and I was a towering success by the end. To go from A Farewell to Arms to For Whom the Bell Tolls by way of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is not so bad! And by the end of the decade, I had assured my access to the magazine market that would in turn buttress book sales by keeping my name in the public eye.
As a family man, not so uncheckered. Life with Pauline was never easy and settled, and I was not a natural as a father. My refusal to be the kind of parent my father had been resulted in a very inconsistent performance on my part.
Socially – by which I mean relating to others non-professionally – I was at home there [i.e in Key West], but you will notice, I made myself pretty much at home everywhere that wasn’t Oak Park. Hong Kong to Western Europe, and all America in between, I was always able to find a link to the people I was thrown in with. But Key West had fewer barriers than Cuba would have, because I was – in a way – just one of the locals, almost.
F: This isn’t getting it, is it?
EH: No, it’s becoming a laundry list.
F: Some specific incident, then? Something to act as trigger?
EH: That is a prime use of external events even while you are in 3D, you know.
F: It’s just that we’re nearly at the end of our hour, and I feel like we have not really gotten seated in.
EH: That’s because you are measuring what you got against what you expected or assumed or hoped for. As when you paint a picture or write a story, the reality is always different from your internal expectations, so initially it often disappoints you. you’re accomplishing more than you know, and I have put forth more today than you recognize. Maybe as you type it in it will become clearer.
F: If you say so.
EH: I do say so. You will see.
F: Till next time, then.
EH: Till next time or till the next time we interact without it having to be on the public record. It is the result, now, more than the process, that you are to concentrate on. Those who can profit by your example already have all they need.
F: Okay. Till next time public or private.
EH: That’s about it. Always was, if you only knew.