Sunday, September 8, 2019
3:30 a.m. Today’s selection for the blog is “Newburgh,” the story of how Washington saved the officers of the Army from making a ghastly mistake that would have been irretrievable. Anyone who can read that and not sense Washington’s immense strength of character, and his irreplaceable importance to the country, is beyond hope. In strength of character, wisdom, sagacity, and in ability to bring others with him to do the necessary thing, he was unequalled save by Lincoln. Other leaders have had different virtues, and these to a degree, but none have equaled them in character. George Marshall did, but no president I can think of.
All right, gentlemen, last night you said we might talk about “fiasco,” either in private or in public if I decided to let it be in public. Shall we?
If you wish us to, we can. If you can allow it, we can.
I can only do my best, but I want to allow it, let’s put it that way.
[This refers to a dream I had yesterday. My college friend Dennis and I and a woman – I’m pretty sure it was the woman who became my wife, whom Dennis also knew then – were walking from our car into a hotel, and I was saying to him that he had a registration from one state, a driver’s license from another, and other discrepancies in his cover story. We were laughing, light-hearted about it. The woman was more serious, somewhat disapproving of our attitude, I think. She entered first, and was no longer there when Dennis and I got through the doors.
[We entered the big double doors of the entrance, and it wasn’t clear where to go from there. We walked a few steps forward, then there came a choice of ways, neither obvious. I chose to turn left, and there was a little counter, sort of hole-in-a-corner affair. I heard Dennis say quietly to himself, “Fiasco,” and realized that he meant that he and I never really stayed connected in our lives as we had been supposed to do. It made me sad, and the sadness woke me up.
[Later, being depressed because I was not working and was feeling unable to work, I generalized the word to encompass my entire life. At 9:15 p.m. I said, “So talk to me about “fiasco,” and got, “No. Tomorrow morning, if you wish.”]
TGU: It [the dream] amounts to your systematically disowning – or, being tempted to disown – your entire past and present. But in that case, who is disowning? What is left?
I don’t see it quite that way. It’s closer to my disowning a view of myself I have held, or let’s say to accepting a modification of that view that is so sweeping as to leave little left
Say that’s so. What does it amount to but saying, “My life was a mistake”?
Exactly. What does it amount to but that? When I get a dream in which my best friend from younger days mutters “fiasco” and I know he is referring to our lack of relationship in this life – only, then it widens out to thinking of it as a commentary on my whole life – what am I to think but that other parts of me – including you, I should think – hold that opinion? I do myself, sometimes, but that wouldn’t cause it to appear in a dream, I should imagine.
And as I wrote that, I was also thinking, I turned left as we entered the doors to the hotel, rather than continuing straight (though I didn’t actually see anything straight ahead). Was it my turning left that was a mistake?
You lost sight of Jean – she disappeared from the scene – and you found yourself in a hole-in-corner place rather than the open lobby you would have expected.
Now remember the dream of the scout troop and your cousin Tom and your hat.
I do. [This dream, of some years ago, had me at the end of a Boy Scout patrol of eight, hiking through my hometown. My cousin was also a member of the patrol. A wind blew my hat off, and I had to chase it down. When I got it, I went looking for the patrol, but they were out of sight and I never saw them again. The meaning I took from it was that the eccentricity of my life was not of my choosing, but was the result of forces beyond my conscious control.
It wasn’t your choice, remember!
Well, no. That’s true. but it was my lack of awareness.
Was it? Let’s say, instead, your inability to see farther than you did.
All right. So maybe my course has had less to do with my conscious mind than with my – what, fate?
Consider this. Your life as it has been lived has brought you to this place. What you have said, what you have dreamed, what you have attempted, what you have done and failed to do, and done badly, who you have helped and hindered, who you have loved and refused to love, the lives you might have lived but didn’t, and above all the life you did live because of the choices you made – it all brought you to a place where you are able to help some people, connect to some people, take heart from some people. Any path offers opportunities, particularly if it is less a beaten path than a seeming wandering across a field. Every possible life will have regrets. Every possible life, though, will remain a point of the present, with opportunities at the present moment – at every present moment – for you to move on from there with your own third-tier reactions to what has been.
“If your sins are scarlet, still you may fly over them.” Something like that.
That is the meaning. If you concentrate on regretting the 3D record, you risk overlooking the All-D reality. The 3D passes away; externals are merely externals, and can in effect be modified. But you are above and beyond what your life-record is. The 3D record is what it is. Your record – your soul record, call it – is entirely different although forged in 3D in part.
So if my life is a fiasco —
No, it may be seen as a fiasco. It is a fiasco from a way of looking at it. But – is that all it is, or is it also a triumph of perseverance?
Very merciful of you.
No it isn’t; it is very realistic of us. No one’s life is only one thing. No summary of a life is more than what you would call a horseback approximation. To accept one view is to always leave yourself vulnerable to (or perhaps we should say open to) a sudden flip-flop of viewpoint that will tempt you to say, “I’ve been seeing it all wrong! It’s really this way!” Well, it isn’t “really” any one way. It’s always a matter of viewpoint. What has your life taught you more thoroughly than that? Only you don’t always apply it.
It would be easier if I could ever express this to anyone and have them comprehend it and not either see it as self-indulgence or rush in to assure me that I am wrong.
So what? If others can’t do for you, you’ll have to do for yourself. Is it different in this than in the rest of life?
I guess I am even nearer to the end of my life than I sometimes assume. I see I have no real hope of getting my materials together and out there.
That can come later if – as we told you, and you did hear – you do the work no one else could do. Leave it prepared and let others worry about distributing it. It will get done or it won’t, but you will have done one level of preparation.
It occurs to me, maybe my literary executors could do enough merely by reposting my material on the net, rather than publishing in book form.
They will find their own options.
Then what of the dream saying “fiasco”?
What of it? It did bring to your attention your regret that your life was not richer, fuller in human relationships. But maybe you couldn’t have had so rich an inner life, if outer life had been richer.
Well, I don’t know. I’m feeling within, and it still seems to me I wasted and am still wasting so much time and energy and attention.
But are you wasting it? What would “wasting it” mean?
Hmm. I see. “Wasting” implies a goal not being pursued.
Yes it does. And your friend Colin Wilson did not waste time and attention, but would you have wanted his life?
His achievement, yes.
And maybe it was as unsatisfying, even frustrating, to him as yours is to you. Maybe it usually is, to anyone. That is a matter of viewpoint as well, of course.
I joke that I am under house arrest, but next to the lives I see around me, there’s something in that.
No, there isn’t really. You mean, your life is centered in non-3D in that it is internal no matter what it is you think about, but that doesn’t mean anyone is arresting you (nor that anyone is holding you save, which would be another interpretation). It means your circle of experience – your 3D mirror – is seemingly quite different from your brother’s, say. So it is. Again, would you live his life, and if you would, why haven’t you?
Well now, let’s look at it a little more carefully. There are many things about his life that I envy. I couldn’t live his life because I don’t have the attitudes needed.
And the same is true for everybody.
So, stop repining?
It’s always the same old story, isn’t it? Emerson’s “lowly faithful, banish fear.”
It is for you. For others, there are different regrets and wistfulnesses. Fortunately for all concerned, 3D is not designed by Procustes.
Very funny. More like by Tantalus, or Sisyphus.
That’s why those myths, to describe an attitude in an image, so that those who follow will know that it isn’t just them. And, don’t forget Prometheus.
I’ll have to think whether to share this or not. I can see that it would require less interpolation than I had thought – a little explanation of my two dreams, mostly. Well, I guess we’ll see. Thanks in any case. I’ll try to take it to heart.