The process and results of conversations

[In printing these excerpts from old conversations, I am skimming. Most of the Hemingway material, for instance, was published in book form a few years ago, so I see no point in republishing it in full now. Instead, selected excerpts that I think are the most timely.]

Monday, June 21, 2010

5:30 AM. Yesterday produced a couple of things I didn’t expect, not least that Carl Jung rather than Ernest Hemingway should start off. Perhaps someone could explain to me why it is that after I have written, and orally transcribed, and proofread, and sent out on the computer, and printed and put into a looseleaf binder the day’s take, I can remember none or sometimes almost none of what was said.

It’s just as well. It is in this way that you are kept with the mind empty of expectations that provides the least interference with what is offered.

So we’re still playing fill-in the dots in this way, too.

We’re playing don’t-fill-in-the-dots-prematurely, yes.

The analogy that comes to mind is that I get this in the way Hemingway got plots, whereas Jane Roberts, say, got it in the way C.S. Forester did.

Bad analogy. Really bad analogy, because not only misleading but actively misleading. The farther you were to pursue it, the more misleading it would be.

You have a better one?

Not necessary, and therefore not helpful.

Okay. So, what do we talk about today, and with whom?

Let’s just say an encouraging word. You will notice that your friends find it useful (to different degrees) to read this as it comes to them, daily. It is short enough that they can read it, and frequent enough that it can be a pleasant habit. So in that way they convoy you, they escort you, as you go.

Yes, but reading this on the computer screen is a far cry from reading it on the page.

You don’t know how they read it. Some one way, some another. Some read it carefully, some skim it. Some find it directly on point, some find it abstractly interesting – and which find it which varies day by day. Our only point is that you find it extremely helpful to be escorted, and it is well for you to realize it, because the habits of a lifetime’s mental isolation are only slowly replaced by new perceptions. In other words, you have robots being reprogrammed so gently that you hardly notice, but the beneficial effect remains.

Now that you point it out, it’s obvious enough.

That could practically serve as the title of the work: “Now that you point it out, it’s obvious enough.”

I doubt that any publisher would agree, but I’ll keep it in mind. So – are we on today’s topic, or do we segue from here?

Hearing nothing, I vote for Papa.

It’s about time for you to begin to work on indexing these talks in some way so that you can put them together and get them out in printed form. Otherwise you will be overwhelmed by sheer bulk. You again have 120,000 words and more as raw material, just as you did when you put together Chasing Smallwood.

Take a tip from your friend Emerson: Spend a lot of time indexing and organizing so you’ll know what you have. That kind of work shows no immediate result, but pays dividends. Think of it like learning a language on your own. One way is to compile a notebook of words and phrases, one by one as you come across them. That isn’t systematic in acquisition, but it becomes systematic in the habit of retaining, and therefore of really retaining. At some point those notebooks aren’t needed anymore, but in the meantime they serve their purpose.

You are nowhere nearly ready to begin assembling this into the form it will finally take. You don’t even have the whole of it. But you are ready and more than ready – or maybe I should say the material itself is ready and more than ready – for you to begin to index and sort it in your mind. Do that as we go along and everything will become clearer and smoother.

I must say, the process of acquiring has become easy and smooth! Fun, too. Absorbing. I sort of dread the prospect of Wednesdays when I can’t (am not supposed to) continue my routine uninterrupted by a sabbatical of one day per week.

Your friends observed that, too – and perhaps your enjoyment of the process encourages them to make their own experiments with more confidence.

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