TGU on the use, misuse and disuse of a journal

Monday, August 12, 2019

6:45 a.m. A dramatic dream ending with him on top of a hanger or outbuilding, having overcome the last guard, but the airplane takes off over his head – in other words, he has failed. Failed to get away or failed to get to someplace, I don’t know. I think the point is, my story [follow-up to Dark Fire] needs action, drama, something external, not just intellectual tension. And that tells me someone is more interested in the next novel than in the Hemingway story (especially since I see that Reynolds had my insights anyway). But I’m not sure it justifies or even advocates abandoning Hemingway yet again. It means, set things in the external world for once.

7:15  Feeling pretty useless, which is what happens when I don’t work.

I had an idea yesterday. What if I did for each project what I did for Hemingway, and devoted a different notebook strictly to thoughts, ideas, fragmentary bits? I don’t yet know if the idea is working out for Hem, of course.

Here’s another thing. If I could only work out some system – and I’m good at working out systems, when I put my attention to it – why couldn’t I figure out how to index my journal in some practical, useful way? Everything I have done till now has been not practical, despite my best attempts.

I suppose the first question has to be, What do I want to get out of it? That is, what end result? What usability? I have tried dividing previous sorts by category and the categories have been too abstract or too detailed.

Give me a hand here, guys, I’m getting too old to be wasting all this time and effort.

If in fact you are wasting it, merely because you can’t use it.

Yes, that’s a lot of help. Pin my faith on somebody being willing and able even to plow through it, let alone transcribe and use it.

They did it for Thoreau, and for Emerson.

They printed The Heart of Emerson’s Journal. [Actually, the entire journal was printed as well.] Besides, what good does it do? Even for famous men, their source material is of only limited interest. For me? And, I want access to it for my own purposes, as Emerson used his.

No, you dream of recapturing your life by having a magic key to memory.

Well, say I do. What would be so wrong with that?

Nothing wrong with it. but impractical.

What’s so wrong with knowing where I had ideas?

Nothing wrong with it. but impractical.

How is it impractical?

It is closer to archiving the winds that blew while you were here.

Thank you Henry Thoreau. It is the rest of that quote that is my very point. “Our thoughts are the epoch of our lives.”

He didn’t say “the record of our thoughts,” he said our thoughts.

Well, now, that’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t looked at it that way.

Aren’t you seeing internal/external in a way no one else seems to? [That is, as reflections of each other.] Tentatively enough that you don’t know, yourself, if you quite believe it?

Say some more about that?

Aren’t you living your life as an unsculpted process, you accepting what comes and doing little or nothing to bring it to happen?

Quite unlike Joseph P. Kennedy, who said things don’t just happen, they are made to happen.

He was right, but maybe so are you.

Not only have we moved quite a way from a simple request for assistance in indexing my journal, this very entry is an example of how it works. If I were to transcribe this, it would be on my computer journal, and probably I’d put it on my blog, even on facebook, as a sample of communication. If I don’t, it will lie here entombed and forgotten.


I’m not saying every entry deserves electronic immortality, far from it. I am saying, what of the things in the past that I’d like to remember having written or even thought.

And maybe they aren’t worth this effort. Maybe the present moment, not past moments, are what deserve your attention. Even if one is writing of the past, one writes in the present, as one lives. There is nowhere else to live but in the present.

You are making a mistake and you have realized it before and forgotten it, so we will remind you again: The past is raw material for the present; it is not something to be obsessed over or enshrined for its own sake. You live now, in the living present tense. Nobody lives then, nor in the times to come. It is quite passible – and, in fact, common enough – for people to live their present moments obsessed by (frozen in) the past or future, but this is a mistake. Past and future do not exist as separate things, the way language tempts you to think of them. Every moment of past and future is a present-tense moment. Every moment lives and continues to live, as a stitch in a tapestry does not cease to exist when the needle is busy elsewhere, or has not yet laid down that stitch as seen from a given point of view.

You may spend your present-tense moment thinking about past or future – or doing anything, for that matter – and the point is not what you are thinking or doing but whether you are present while doing or thinking, or whether you are in a sort of trance. Not that full attention can’t be divided [I think they meant alternated] with what might be called slackened attention, or sleep, but that full attention is the only space you can work from.

As Gurdjieff said.

Bear in mind, Gurdjieff lived long enough ago that the mental raw material he had to work with was radically different. The electronic age has its drawbacks, but it has already transformed average human consciousness in ways you hardly see. Yes, people’s attention-span is shorter. Yes, they are distracted by millions of thought-baubles (TV, internet, games, continual telephonic communications, etc.). Yes, they are ignorant of their ignorance. But they live in a different kind of world, with different sensory perceptions that now routinely extend to ideas and experiences that would have been so unusual and so mind-stretching in Gurdjieff’s day – only a century ago, after all – as to be a different species.

I feel like I haven’t been judging my own being accurately. I thought I would come to something, and it seems that was delusions of grandeur.

More like, everybody comes to something, and the less firm their ideas are about what they are to accomplish, the less they worry about it.

I get the sense that you are gently smiling at me, and partly wondering when the poor bastard is ever going to get it.

Maybe a little of each, yes. Follow your own advice, and “Unlax, Fuddsy.” {For those who don’t remember bugs Bunny cartoons, that was the advice Bugs was constantly giving Elmer Fudd.]

So to return – at length! – to the question of indexing my journals in any way that will let me use them —

You are using them. What you were built who you are, as who you are builds who you can be (that is, lays out possibilities and forecloses certain paths). Don’t confuse the living being with the frozen record of who that living being is at other times.

But when we read someone’s journals, or someone’s letters, say, we can learn so much!

Yes, but can they?

So someone’s journals or letters are useful mostly to others?

The shell is what they [the journals or letters] have, nothing else. The person himself or herself casts off that shell as side-effect of living. Surely you can see the difference.

It puts a new light on Hemingway’s allergy to biographies and letter collections.

Though he was happy to read those of others, yes. It isn’t so much invasion of privacy as, you might say, incompetent invasion of privacy. People may use another’s records for their own growth and that’s well and good, but it doesn’t get them to the person. You don’t get internal to internal by going through external, though it may seem that’s the only way to do it.

So, no help indexing, huh?

If you want to waste your time, it’s yours to waste, but we decline to be made to appear to endorse it.

Huh. Well, that’s definite enough. Thanks for the disquisition, anyway.


One thought on “TGU on the use, misuse and disuse of a journal

  1. Thanks for this honest exchange. While not directly related, it is a another reminder for me.

    With all the changes in the last few months, I have not been journaling my experiences, requests or contacts with guidance. After mentioning as such to a friend 3 days ago, I pulled out my last guidance journal 2 days ago and placed it bedside.

    Good to know (today) that staying in the present moment is enough to focus upon.

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