TGU on how to use old journals

Sunday, April 18, 2021

4:10 a.m. While I wait for inspiration on how to bring Papa’s Trial to people’s attention, let’s turn to the question Louis posed last week, about how I can use the material to be found in my journals. He specifically wanted me to ask you, and I think it’s a good idea. So – ?

You realize, in effect you are saying, “Enough about my last project, let’s look at the next.”

I specifically chose to ask about Papa’s Trial first, last Monday.

You asked about success, not quite the same question. And, speaking of questions, would you care to recalibrate and ask today’s question as carefully as you can?

All right. [Did]

I have been keeping a journal since 1966. Its purpose has changed as I and my life have changed, but at least the past 30 years of it include many thoughts and insights and potential jumping-off places that I should hate to leave unused. Is there a way to mine that material? Are their habits and techniques and perhaps even tools I could use to make it more possible to do so?

A better question, you see, reminding you that your interest here is in practical tools, rather than, say, ideas for essays or whatever.

I do see it, and it is techniques that Louis was suggesting I ask for.

You have vaguely thought, over the years, that you should type it all up, but not only is the volume of work required impossible, neither would it solve your problem. You would then have a shelf of typed impenetrable material instead of handwritten impenetrable material. So then, you thought of indexing, in the way Emerson complied index after index, and then indexes of indexes, and this too seemed beyond doing. You try re-reading or even skimming, and even there, a list of what you want to deal with is huge – or would be, if you followed the impulse very far.

All very true. But given that I start at #49, around the time of Gateway, I am presently on #132. Even though a good deal of all those pages  consists of dialogues like this one, and so could be silently skipped over, there’s still an enormous bulk to be used, if only I could get to it.

In retrospect, you see how good an impulse it was, to type each day’s session that day, lest they accumulate and be lost.

Yes, and I wish I’d started doing that sooner. Can’t recall when I did start, really. In any case – techniques to use what I have?

Maybe it is too late. Have you considered that?

You know I have.

Maybe it is unnecessary. Have you considered that?

Unneeded, in that I incorporated the material into my life? Unneeded in that I wouldn’t have any greater success in getting it out than I have had so far?

We don’t say it is, we said, have you considered it? Really considered it, because if you have, you will have come to more clarity, in the way that negative space helps define a picture.

I get the strongest feeling that you don’t have a clue and don’t want to admit it.

Or possibly you are making us up.

Or that, at least at the moment.

You see the pattern here? Ask us about anything other than yourself, and you receive fluent replies. Ask us about the most intimate subject – yourself – and you do not. Why should that be? It isn’t fear of public exposure, because you aren’t doing this in public. If you didn’t want to type it up and sent it out, who could force you to? So why should you freeze – and it can hardly be us freezing – when you come to asking for information that might help you?

It seems to me I do that frequently, and usually get information.

Now pay attention to the background noise, so to speak.

Yes, the thoughts as we write this. I am remembering parts of the German film I saw the other night, “The Lives of Others,” a very interesting film.

And why should memories of that film be playing in the background as you try to get techniques to recover your past?

Is that what I’m doing?

Is it anything else?

I thought I was trying to get past information back into consciousness for possible use.

Which is trying to recover your past.


The writer in the film got to see the extensive dossiers the Stasi had kept on him. The Stasi officer who had saved him got to see the inscription in the book that thanked him anonymously. In neither case could a story have been recreated and understood using those reports. They were signposts, only, and could not have been more than that.

So, read them just to bring back those days, back into my mind.

Not exactly back into your mind. They were there, they are there, they will remain there. But let’s say to bring them to interact with your present-tense mind.

Which, however, moves, moment by moment.

Well, that’s always the case in 3D. That’s how you wind up with 100 books each written in the present and now representing a far country.

So maybe I need to do – or let’s say, have the opportunity to do – a Bronson Alcott?

[Alcott, a prodigious talker all his life, and also a prodigious journaler, was struck dumb in his old age, and spent the last year of his life rereading his journals in silence, first to last. He died right after finishing. I have thought, it must have been a sort of past-life review for him.]

It’s up to you.

Interesting. I can see that this removes the pressure immediately.

It is the difference between an overwhelming chore and a pleasant pastime.

It implies giving up having a goal.

So? Would that be the end of the world?

It would not. Sort of bittersweet, because much might have been made of all that material, but perhaps the train has left the station.

And perhaps there will be another train. You don’t know.

So your advice is, read and don’t worry about how to make use of it?

That is, let’s say, one option. Or you could try rereading and typing up what you find, but how well is that working for you?

Or I suppose I could read, make a semi-cryptic note on what’s there, and leave it at that.

Even that would be a sort of index, and it would be an index of only the things you noticed particularly. Not a bad halfway house, and you’ll notice that is exactly what you were doing until you had to stop to proofread Papa’s Trial once more.

Thanks as always. I don’t know where this leaves me, but it does clarify things a bit.


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