Hemingway and TGU on viewpoints

Thursday, April 8, 2021

5:45 a.m. It took until now to sink in, Papa, but yesterday you said, “It was all me interacting with not-me.” I heard that at the time in its own context, but just now it strikes me: That’s practically a definition of fear, isn’t it? Me and not-me; separation, not unity.

That is a valid insight easily drawn too far. Both, at once: valid, and easily overdrawn.

Well, I’d love to look at it.

How can anybody look at anything without considering it separate from himself? Yet it is true that if you don’t have it within you, you can’t see it. The second part isn’t as obvious as the first, but they’re both true. How it strikes you is going to depend on

Went wandering, lost it. Sorry. Again?

Let’s talk about what is really on your mind.

Okay. Yesterday I was participating in a group meeting and I asked if anybody had been watching the Ken Burns special on your life, and the only other person who had been watching, of the eight of us, herself a writer, highly intelligent, seemed unable to see you except through a feminist lens, even rearranging the facts to support her bias.

Not that you or I or anyone else would ever do that.

No, but you know the point I’m getting to. I thought, a few minutes ago, that just as Churchill once said, “There’s no use arguing with a communist,” so there’s no use arguing with a feminist. All you get is a sort of strained sympathy that your views are so warped. Writing this, I see that of course it may be expanded to read something like, “There’s no use arguing with anybody about anything.”

Very true, although hard to live that way.

My arguments with liberals, with conservatives, with anybody who has a fixed set of certainties, really doesn’t ever accomplish anything.

No, and how could it? You are assuming that your own position is correct, and every other position is in error depending upon how different it is from yours. Everybody does it. It’s so easy to see the rigidity of others’ positions, and so hard to see the rigidity of your own.

It makes it hard to believe in the possibilities of working together.

But you do work together. What it makes you think it is impossible is being together, mentally, spiritually.

I’m not talking just to Papa here, am I?

Does it matter? Yes but no.

Well, I can feel things shifting more to a philosophical level, or let’s say a more abstract level.

As if he – as if you – as if anyone – didn’t / doesn’t do it all the time? You all think of your mental lives as more linear than they are. In actual fact, you jump around all over the place, and it’s only in remembering, in reconstructing, that you make it look linear.

Okay, I can see that. So to continue with the point you were making –

Your ambition – whether you realize it consciously or not – is to be a part of a 3D group mind that operates together to bring you all to another level, and to affect the conditions of 3D life in general; that is, to affect the shared subjectivity as well as your personal responsibility.

I started to say, “Isn’t that what everybody wants to do?” then realized, not consciously.

Not consciously but also not necessarily. Life represents all parts of the human psyche, necessarily. That means, automatically it represents the things you hate, the things you don’t notice, the things you can’t be bothered with, no less than the things you love or notice or do bother with (that is, do value). So it isn’t like more consciousness is going to mean, “The universe agrees with you!” It’s more like “The universe is firmly on your side of the argument and also every other side of the argument.” So how is anybody going to convince anybody of anything?

I think of Emerson writing, in a moment of exasperation, “If I knew only Thoreau, I would think the cooperation of good men impossible.”

Gee, what a bum Emerson was, to write “good men” instead of “good persons.”

You’ve got me smiling. I didn’t expect that.

Well, we’re on your side of the argument too, you know. Just because we’re saying it’s broader than you, it doesn’t mean we’re saying you’re wrong.

I suppose you’re merely underlining the fact that we all have to exercise tolerance in our interactions, because we will always see each other’s limitations, certainly easier than our own.

Isn’t that what you’re going to encounter, to the degree that you experience a larger group mind?

I guess we don’t usually think in those terms. We think of greater communication as overcoming differences, more than as revealing them.

But you don’t get one side of the duct tape without the other. But now if you are restless to go do other things, go ahead. You don’t have to do this.

No, it’s just a stray impulse. Let’s keep going. It’s interesting how what started out as a discouraging experience for me has broadened out to a helpful generalization about communication.

That’s what usually happens when you look at something less as how it relates to you as a position and more as how it exists in itself.

That could do with some exposition, I think.

Well, let’s see how to say it. It is a simple thought, but perhaps not so easily put into a vivid metaphor.


That will do, yes. It’s just like what happens when you turn a geocentric view into a heliocentric view – or vice versa. The importance is not “Which view is correct?” but “What do you learn by seeing it this way?” The planets, the stars, the earth itself, are just what they are regardless how you think of them, but thinking of them in different relation changes everything in effect. In the same way, temporarily adopting another point of view won’t change whatever the “real” facts may be, but it will very likely show you things you were previously unable to see, and may reveal that some relationships you had seen as true were in fact less true, or even false, when seen from another viewpoint.

Now, I can imagine people saying, “But there is one view that is true, and others not. The sun is the center of the solar system, and that’s all there is to it.”

And you know how we would answer that.

I do. Geocentrism works better than heliocentrism when you’re drawing horoscopes, for instance. That is, this earth we live on is in the center of our lives, just as our experiences are the center of our world.

That’s right. And you could generalize farther and say, every system of measurement skews the data.

Skews the data, or skews our reading of the data?

That’s less of a distinction than you might think. Data you can’t see or can’t properly appreciate is non-existent to you, even if it is non-existent “merely” because your own psychology won’t let you see it.

To finish our analogy: When you look at something as it relates to you, it presents certain aspects. When you look at it as it relates to itself, or (more usually) as it relates to the person exemplifying that view, it presents other aspects. Not, usually, entirely different; more usually, partly different. And that is a portrait of a 3D life in miniature, isn’t it? A partial view, determined mostly by where you stand.

Okay. Well, given that I don’t have to run upstairs and type this up (having no internet connection, so being unable to email or post it), let’s return to the initial question, me and not-me.

More like “me and not-me, but also me as not-me.”

Absorbing the world into yourself, to express it.

That’s one way to look at it. Or you could say, “Absorbing the world into yourself, to become it, or to identify with it.” It goes on all the time.


Leave it, for the moment. You can always come back to it.

Okay. Thanks for all this.


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