Hemingway on borrowing from the other side

Thursday, June 14, 2007

So. A sus ordenes.

You wonder, will you see Spain?

I wonder, more, why am I being drawn there again when there is so little chance I can see it. Even if I go I cannot see.

You might say some more about your feelings about travel, and learn something thereby.

All right. When I travel alone, or with another stranger, I feel like I am looking through a plate glass window. I can’t get to the lives of the people, I can only look on.

And this is different from the rest of your life – how?

No, you are absolutely correct. In that too it is the same.

And so?

And so I look at what was, and what can be understood by means of books or movies.

Or psychic experience, or interpersonal relations.


So you are never immersed?

No, it seems not. It isn’t much of a life.

No? What would you do?

Well that’s a point. I don’t know.

There is nothing to be done but to play whatever cards one holds. If you are an intuitive you cannot expect to live a sensory life. If you are a mystic you cannot expect to be immersed in the everyday life. No one is everything because in duality to be everything would be to be nothing, or to be the opposite of some other part of a larger something.

I must write.

Sure. Not for publication so much as for company.

Yes, I can see that. I can write and thus talk to myself, nothing more.

Nothing more, nothing less. Cervantes talked to himself, and so do all storytellers. Emerson and Thoreau are bad influences for you in one sense: their world was very much more grounded in experience than yours. Emerson’s more than Thoreau’s, but both. It is in the internal experience that you connect with them – but you are going where they never did, and you should recognize that with joy.

Yes. I see that.

Write your novel as you hear these conversations – I have told you this before – and you will be at home.

This is what you did too, then.

Of course. It is what storytellers do: they create their re-creation. They live in another world in this world. They make manifest what was only a glimmering. Santiago lives, now, and the boy, and they will live a long time. Are they less real than I was? No, a better way to put it is, are they less real than I am now?

The way you put it, it is like borrowing from the other side to bring into this side so it can be put into form on the other side.

That’s exactly what it is – and your gift for putting that into words is what you were shaped for. You are no more and no less real than Santiago or me. It is only while we are passing through the physical side that there appears to be a difference.

The guys would say, I think, only while that wave of the present is passing over us.

You see? You can grasp it, you can translate it, you can convey it. You are fishing in deep waters and you can describe the process as carefully as I could describe fishing in the Gulf Stream and we are describing the same process.

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