The examination of images

Thursday, February 10, 2011

6:45 AM. Well, I am a little tired this morning, a little out of tune. But if you can stand it, Papa, I guess I can. So what do we talk about today?


Seems to me that this is one aspect of my life that I’ve talked about extensively – and even as I say that, I realize that there are aspects of it that I have carefully never touched on.

You see? Once get the habit of being willing for any memories to come, and they line up at the door. But they won’t come if they think they aren’t wanted – won’t except when called forth by some external prod, that is. That’s why a chance encounter so often brings out what you call robots. They’re opportunistic, and they wait for any chance to appear lest their message be forgotten.

Their message, you call it.

How would you describe what they’re doing, except holding the place for you until you get around to dealing with the emotions and reactions that caused their existence?

I sort of know what you just said, but only because I already know it from practice. I don’t think it is in the words themselves.

Shall we invite in Dr. Jung?

I don’t remember him talking about robots, but then, I don’t remember you doing so either. Dr. Jung, would you join our conversation?

Yes, gladly. You might consider that I and others are already participating in the conversation, as part of your unnamed Guys Upstairs. This conversation, all these conversations, are not initiated by your conscious intent, so much as suggested to it by your Upstairs component, the breadth and nature of which is still mostly unknown to you, as the Self is always mostly unknown to the consciousness.

Your nickname “robots” works well enough, but we could wish there were a different one that would continually remind you that they are not constructed mechanisms, but – one might say – cases of arrested development, or “individuals” acting in trance. Sleepwalkers, call them.

Sleepwalkers. Not sure what nuances you are going to provide, but I like it, at first glance.

You have tried calling them time capsules, and have seen the undesirably static nature of the analogy. Your analogy to computer executable files closely illustrates one aspect of the mechanism of dealing with them – the rewriting of their instructions – but again is too mechanical an analogy.

Maybe I should use several analogies successively, to take advantage of each of them and yet remind people that it is only an analogy. So – robotic in that it was formed for a purpose and does what it was told, unbendingly. Computer file, in that it can be easily and quickly brought into memory and rewritten, then stored to do what we now want. Snapshot, or time capsule, in that it perfectly embodies where we were at the time we laid down these particular instructions. Sleepwalker, in that it is a somewhat conscious, living part of ourselves, functioning mostly unaware of its surroundings. Or, more like, somewhat aware of its surroundings but largely or entirely unaware of itself.

All this is true enough to be useful, but at the end of it you are still going to need one convenient shorthand for all that you mean.

I’m willing to go with sleepwalkers for the moment and see how it turns out.

So. Gateway memories and associations.

I hadn’t forgotten, Papa.

Start with an image.

Lots of them. Sitting in debrief – more than once – and listening to that ungrounded artist from Italy describing all the things she had seen and done in whatever tape we had just done, and wanting to believe her but knowing (rightly or wrongly) that it was bullshit, that either she was fooling herself or was trying to show off for us. As I write this, I see that another possibility is that she really was having direct experiences – and was used to having them – but was madly creating story around them, and didn’t know how to separate perception from story. One thing I know: She was not any kind of model I’d care to follow.

Before you move to another image, stick with this one for a while. Why does this one come up first, do you think?

I wouldn’t have thought to ask that. I suppose there was a reason.

It’s always worthwhile to suppose there’s a reason. What would you say to somebody who told you it came up for no particular reason?

I’d tell them there was some reason, so ask. I guess what I’m hearing is that it embodies the major theme from my Gateway experience. If not the major theme, a major one, anyway.

And that is?

I see now that a large part of me went in there suspicious of anybody claiming to have what I was looking for, because I wanted it so much that I was afraid of fooling myself into believing I’d found something that in real life didn’t exist.

Not as far from Angelo as you thought, then, were you?

No, not as far as I would have thought. I remembered being determined not to fool myself, and I remembered how it made me cautious when experiences did begin to come – but I hadn’t remembered how actively suspicious I was of the true-believer types, call them.

I’m holding you to a methodical exploration of one thing at a time, instead of the superficial connecting of many themes (which has its place as well, but not yet) but can you see how just approaching the idea of your Gateway memories with the intent to actually re-experience them rather than judge them has made them so eager to come forth?

I can. Is as if they were little kids, wanting to be seen and heard. There are two or three of them right now, clamoring for a moment of my attention.

And yet you wrote up that experience extensively, and repeatedly! You’ve talked about it. Or – did you?

No, I see what you mean. The experience I wrote about and talked about was only a truncated version of the real experience, because I was only looking at what I thought were the important themes.

One thing that happens when you go over is that you learn that what was important in your life and what wasn’t (to the extent that anything wasn’t) aren’t necessarily what you thought they were. I know you accept that statement as true, and even obvious, but that’s only a superficial acceptance. Some things have to be experienced to be even conceptualized, let alone known. So go back to the memory of your sitting silently listening to something you didn’t believe.

I realize, her over-enthusiastic manner helped put me off. If she had described things more casually or with any degree of detachment, I’d have been more likely to believe her. I was as put off by her natural manner of being as by anything else! I didn’t realize that. If I had, I might have had a less ungrounded experience three months later at Guidelines, when I acted in ways that must have affected at least some of the others in ways she had affected me. Never realized it.

An image, or a feeling from an image. It unlocks things, if you don’t judge the image, or characterize it, but just call it up. Perception without judgment, you see.

Yes, I do. It’s magic. What was inaccessible is not only available but is banging on the door, just from taking a different approach.

So go back to the image, the first one that arose, and describe the scene as if to others, trying to describe it in such a way as it is accurate but is accurate emotionally, not merely physically.

As you did in “Big Two Hearted River,” say.

That’s what I was doing, but I was making up the whole “external” scene. You don’t have to do that, just go back to what you really remember.

Funny, I can even remember that I was against the wall nearest the door, and she was on the opposite wall, the wall with the door to the trainer’s control room, and the wood stove that was never used.

So you see, you remember it visually. If you were to put the effort into it, you could connect with that memory (that’s a way to put it, anyway) and remember every relevant detail. You couldn’t reconstruct the memory by deducing what must have been where, but you could reconnect with it at its source, where it remains incorrupt and timeless, and that would give you what you need.

Or – are you listening carefully, you Hemingway professors? – you could reconnect with the emotional memory of a given incident, or of several with a theme, and construct a story by choosing externals that would reflect and suggest the elements that needed to be expressed if you were to portray the emotional surroundings of the memory you were attempting to recapture. I don’t say I did this consciously, but it’s what I did.

Great stuff, great process, Papa, and Dr. Jung. It’s eight and so I need to shut down and do other things, but this seems a real advance.

You’ll find that it has its uses.

Next time, then.

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