Bobby and Che

Monday October 30, 2006

7 a.m. Bobby and Che. It would be an illuminating comparison, more illuminating than Lincoln and Lee, or Thoreau and Mr. Emerson [comparisons I have thought of writing]. But I can’t see myself ever writing any of this in a book. Oh! Duh! Okay, I get it. Why think of doing second- or third-hand stuff when I can talk to Che as easily as I did Bobby. Or – both.

What do the two of you think of the comparison? Bobby?

You quote my saying I would have been a guerrilla or a juvenile delinquent [if he hadn’t been born into the Kennedy family]. Nothing incorrect about that. And yes our temperaments are very similar, what you would call our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Fidel was to him what Jack was to me, the elder brother who opened worlds of access but whose needs had to come first. If we had met we would have had no way to talk to each other. We would have talked to each other’s exterior and missed the connections that tied us.

Of course. It is hard to live a life of politics or revolution and keep the knack of inner—

No, no. It is just that there is an emphasis on action, on shaping things, that takes away your patience and makes you see everything as a chess game.

But after Jack was killed you read poetry.

What was I to do? I had nothing in my hands. I could do nothing to bring him back. I could see that I had helped bring it on. I could see that my family offered other targets. So what was I to do? Become a drunkard? I had to do something to ease that horrendous pressure.

Too many secrets.

Of course secrets. Things get done in secret, or you could look at it another way – publicity or celebrity is an accidental light that shines on things normally not done in light. Not necessarily because they are shameful but they don’t have a reason to be in the light. And some of them are shameful, and some criminal. But mostly what happens in the world happens unnoticed because there isn’t much reason for it to be noticed.

But in this case –

Yes, of course. Those secrets would have devastated people if they had come out then. Remember how shocked people were as the facts came out little by little over the years. What if it had all come out in November 1963? Could the people have stood it? I’m talking about all of it, all intertwined. Jack’s sex life, and mine, and dad’s; trying to kill Castro, using the Mafia, J. Edgar Hoover’s sex life and his little blackmail empire – and on and on, because if you were going to put the finger on the men who ordered Jack killed, you had to explain how and why – and this was only a few years – three, four – since Americans had been shocked to realize that we used spies just like the Russians!

And keeping the secrets left you feeling guilty.

Of course. And I hadn’t been particularly introspective over the course of the previous half dozen years – they were busy years. And now it was guilt, and grief, and rage, and then I was ready to meet Che on some terms. We could have understood each other then – or no I mean I felt like understood him then. But with Fidel and Jack between us, and so many plots and crimes and acts of war either way – and so much good intention too, don’t forget that, but anyway if we could have met inside to inside, as we can now, we could have seen the similarities.

And Che, do you agree?

Perhaps it would have taken someone like you to bring us together, eh?

Oh, I know I’m nobody, to the people who accumulate power.

Yes, you are a nobody, and it was for the nobodies that I thought I was working. And I was not insulting you, I was making a point: Only those with the time and isolation – or, not isolation but detachment from the pressure of running things – only those can get to where you are. If you are running things, you have no time to think

You don’t mean “think”

No. I mean that all your thinking is done at pressure. A vacation is not a change in circumstance, it is an interruption, only.

[I drifted]

Let us try again. Che, Bobby, I thought today that the two of you had remarkably parallel lives.

Spoiled rich kids who didn’t fit in with their surroundings, you thought. Driving forces with great compassion for the poor. Intolerant assholes who could flay anybody in sight, and yet genuinely kind men when you weren’t being dominant did that sum it up?

Well, plus spending yourselves freely for what you believed, and getting killed for it, and being loved as a legend by the poor.

Those are striking comparisons, so you might ask why we wound up on opposite sides.

No, I don’t wonder at all. You were who you were by what you had been born into. Your paths converged because you were drawn to similar conclusions but you had a long way to travel to come to that stance.

You surely do not think that Senor Bobby was less enthusiastic about hunting me down in Bolivia?

I would expect mixed feelings. Bobby, would you speak for yourself?

By then I understood revolution very well. But there was too much between us for us to meet at that late date in our careers.

What you do not understand, sitting at your table, is that it is possible to be a man of action only at a price – but that price does not include the loss of the other parts of yourself that are not a man of action. So one gets torn apart.

Robert Kennedy 1925- 1968

Ernesto Guevara 1928-1967

I don’t know that I can make this into anything more than what it is. The comparisons are there o be made, but it requires time and effort to put it together and I am not sure I can spare either.

I bless them both. They were truly remarkable men, who played their part well and did make a difference. as to their legacy? Well, it is so hard to act without doing evil, and perhaps as much evil as good, who can tell?

Interesting that one can get out of practice at anything, even listening for messages from the other side. I can feel the difference in this attempt and past conversations with Joseph, say, or Carl Jung.


2 thoughts on “Bobby and Che

  1. Fascinating. “…it is possible to be a man of action only at a price.” Both so young when they died, Che 39 and Bobby 42. (Jack, 46.)
    Have you ever accessed people still alive?
    Following your lead, I had a conversation with Louisa May Alcott. It was very interesting–e.g., it felt different, she definitely had ideas of her own. I knew it wasn’t me, whether or not it was her.
    I think of these famous people when I look at what my sources said last night: “People have to work autonomously, independently, or they are of no use to the world. We don’t need clones or copies or wanna-be-somebody-elses. They stop the world. We can’t bring the change–only the idea of it. You bring the change. . . What makes you want it is the fulfillment it brings to know yourself in that way, to open those doors, to introduce what comes…”
    Thanks, Frank, for extending what I think is possible.

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