Rita’s tenth anniversary of liberation from the 3D world

Ten years!

Hard to believe, but today makes ten years since Rita Warren made her transition from the 3D to the All-D world, 3-19-2008

This week I am at The Monroe Institute, attending its week-long Professional Division meeting. Given how large a part TMI played in Rita’s later life, naturally she is in my thoughts.

Even when I took this shot of Rita on her motorized wheelchair, on what turned out to be her final trip outdoors in that manner, I thought, “Someday this picture is going to be very symbolic. And so it has proved to be.

 

Chasing Smallwood — .35 Scattered.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

(9:15 a.m.) Late start today. Well, Joseph, I’m very glad for the material on Emerson. In retrospect it is very strange indeed that I didn’t think to ask you about that visit the first time I contacted you.

Maybe that should reassure you a bit. It ain’t a process under your control, though you sometimes like to think so and other times you’re very afraid that it is. The extent of your immediate control is your being open to it. In fact, let’s talk a little about the process. What’s your biggest question about it? I know your biggest fear, that you’re just fooling yourself and some others. But what is the biggest puzzlement? And there’s a reason I’m asking instead of just telling you: it’ll make you think, and the process will be different.

Okay, if you say so. My biggest question about the process.

Odd, I can’t really think as well just thinking as I can writing as I go along. I suppose that trait is what led to my doing this in this fashion.

My biggest question about the process. I guess, this: Assuming it is real, and assuming I am contacting others in one or another relation to me – whether “past lives” or just friends or assigned guidance or whatever – how come I get some information and not all information at will?

The question answers itself, you see.

Well, yes, I guess it does. And I suppose that’s why you had me work to pose it.

Sure. It wouldn’t have the same conviction if I just told you, instead of your figuring it out. And it won’t have the same conviction for others – can’t – because they didn’t work themselves into the spot but just had it given to ‘em. And you’re going to have to spell it out – you will or I will – or they won’t understand what you just got, because it is too connected to where your mind is. In other words, it ain’t obvious except because you’ve just been thinking about something. And how often have you seen the same thing talking to the guys, as you put it?

That’s true, I’ve often been surprised, re-reading a transcript, to see the mental leaps I had made, though they seemed natural enough at the moment. Well, what I just got as I posed the question why I got some information but not anything I want is – because the process is not entirely under my control. In other words there is someone else on the other end of the conversation! And this is just what you would expect, if it is real.

Correct, and with that reassurance behind us for the moment we can proceed.

No, looking again at that answer, we came out the same hole we went in. Assuming the world is round, why, look! The world is round! That doesn’t actually get us any farther. What of information that ought to be available but that I can feel you don’t have? All the innumerable details about the life and times of Joseph Smallwood that you – being I take it in an a sort of permanently expanded state, ought to have access to. I may not be able to remember my street address or telephone number from 30 years ago, or 40, but if I had timeless command of my memories – as presumably you do – why shouldn’t I then?

You are making assumptions and not noticing them. You think I’m in a “permanently expanded state” and by that you mean I’m like the guys, with access to everything and (relative to you) focus on nothing until you create focus by your interest, at which times (you assume) there is total access. All this stems from ideas you’ve got that came from here and there – your childhood, your religious training, your reading at various levels of understanding over many decades – it isn’t an integrated consistent system and you wouldn’t want it to be except in so far as you feel like you have nailed in one piece of another of truth.

Well, care to paint a better picture?

You are too scattered. You cannot do this work with half your attention. Come to it joyously or not at all.

Chasing Smallwood — .34. Emerson’s message to youth

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and
  • the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

[Sunday, February 19, 2006]

Joseph, I don’t know if it was you planting ideas in my head – where do ideas come from, anyway? – but I thought today I would ask you to talk to me about Emerson in your life. That is the connection in which you first came to me, and for some reason I never pursued it. Because of my problems with R, I suppose.[R was a woman in my Gateway. The connection will become obvious as you read this.]  Talk to me of your relation to Emerson.

People in your day don’t think much about Emerson, not like in mine. When I was a boy he set us on fire with possibilities – our possibilities, you see – and his influence just kept growing. From your time looking backwards, your people are inclined to see him as the respectable elder statesman whose words seem stuffy and old-fashioned. Spencer and others used his thoughts like “compensation” to justify the worst kind of social robbery. And, Emerson is more English, more old-fashioned to you, so he’s almost needing a translator.

You yourself – Frank – know the difference in you between Emerson and Thoreau. Emerson is clearly an older man of an older time; Thoreau could be living next to you. Does, in fact. Of course that don’t mean that a man born 100 years after Henry Thoreau got thrown in jail overnight is as far from him as people born more than 125 years after he died. All I’m saying is, time moves on, people recede, and they need translating, and Henry will too. You’ve thought to do it. If you don’t – even if you do – someone else will, for he still has things to say.

It took my breath for a second – I thought – Henry too?

It would be a big thing to you, wouldn’t it? The only reason it ain’t on the program is it would make things too hard for you right now. But sure, if you can talk to Lincoln, it ought to show you you can talk to others. The thing is, have some reason to talk to them. You wouldn’t just call them on the phone without a reason – or if you did you’d embarrass yourself, maybe. But if you have something to say, or something to ask – well, the phone is free.

Perhaps at some point I will work up my nerve to do that. Meanwhile, Emerson?

Emerson, all right. Might as well start with why I visited his house, if I even knew why. I had read him while I was at Harvard – lots of us did – but certainly not as required reading! Not even as permitted reading, you might say – but we read him, and for just a couple of us, he was a whole new world opening up. I started to say, you –your time, I mean – thinks Emerson was sort of stuffy, sort of conservative and obscure. You ought to have read him with our eyes! Here was this man, had been a minister, was related to one of the oldest families in Massachusetts – ministers all the way back to the code of Hammurabi, as they say – and he says you don’t need ministers to bring you to God, God is all around you and within you. He says, you came into this life to be something: Be it. Don’t follow in some old mold just because it is expected; throw over the traces and see for yourself what you can be. Trust! Trust the universe, you people in your time say. Well, Emerson was saying it in my time.

I ain’t going to try to Explain Emerson. Anybody can read him, it just takes patience with the stuff you won’t find familiar. But I can tell you what his effect was. He was just dynamite to the young – and dynamite was what we needed. We were living in a new world, and in new country – for after all the frontier when I was born was in Ohio somewhere, or Illinois; you know what I mean. We were in a new political system – the first republic since the Dutch and to our mind the first republic since the Greeks and Romans. We had new careers, new opportunities, new political arrangements, new social arrangements – for the old-fashioned ways were breaking up, tainted with Tory-ism. And now here came Emerson with American versions of Carlyle and the Germans, the Transcendental Idealists, you know.

Remember, this was when romanticism was still new enough to be exciting. It was when we could see the steam engine changing everything around us day by day. Electricity! (The telegraph, you know.) Railroads! Steamboats, steam power equipment instead of river – well, you get the idea. Everything new, everything possible, and what were we waiting on?

And Emerson says, “hold on boys, with everything new and changing, hadn’t you ought to change how you think too? How you talk and write and see? Hadn’t you ought to start to be Americans instead of second-hand Europeans?

Now, I know that sounds different to you because in your time you’ve got tired of the everlasting bragging about America being the best at this, the strongest at that, the smartest, the bravest and all that. But, see, the difference is in the circumstances. You were born just at the time America had climbed to be cock of the hoop. In 1946 you could have beat the rest of the world put together, probably. (Not that it would have been a good thing, of course, it would have been a disaster for all everybody, but that ain’t the point.)

When Emerson started publishing, though, it was 1836. It was a whole different story. In 1836, England called the tune and sold you the fiddle too. America had enough people, and it was far enough away, on the other side of the ocean, that England couldn’t beat it in a war – 1812 had proved that – but when it came to world affairs, England was everything and America was just nowhere. The best fashions was English, the best books, the best education, the best culture. At least, for Americans it was – and that, even for people didn’t particularly like England. It was a lot like it was with America when you were born, or like it was inside America with New York for a while. If it came from there it was the best, because it came from there.

So when Emerson said, let’s think our own thoughts and say them in our own way and not be looking over our shoulder at England all the time, and France – why, it was like nobody had ever thought it: He said the right thing at the right time, you see, and – bang! –the whole works went up.

But that was only for openers, as  they used to say, playing poker. If that had been all he had had to say, it would have been thank you very much and on to other things. No sir. The biggest thing – the thing his old connections never could forgive him for, because they could never understand it – was his saying that it is morally wrong to rely on outside authority over your own conscience.

He didn’t say it in so many words, but that is what it amounted to. You are on your own in this world, if you want to live in the truth. You can explore here and there, you can lean on this person and that one, but the minute you give your own conscience to the keeping of somebody else – or some thing else, like an institution, which is worse – why from that moment until you come to your senses and reform, you are dead.

What a sermon to preach to young men!

Now, it ain’t any use saying (not that you would, Frank, but some would) that you can make plenty of mistakes following your conscience. Sometimes you get the facts wrong, sometimes the implications, sometimes the moral of the story. But life is about mistakes; you can’t always get it right, and you can go a lot farther wrong following some code or some group thought than you can by trying to follow the guidance God gives you minute to minute if you will only just listen to it. What do you think Jesus meant by the blind following the blind and winding up in a ditch?

If you have got to make mistakes – and you do; you can’t help it; even doing nothing is sometimes a mistake – if you have got to make mistakes, make your own mistakes, that come out of your own nature, they come out of who you are, what you are – and ultimately if you faithfully listen even your own mistakes will turn out all right. But if you turn your back on your inner light, you are lost. Getting lost don’t mean you have to stay lost. But it does mean you wind up straggling around not knowing where you are for a time. It can be damned uncomfortable. You know, they asked Daniel Boone if he’d ever been lost in the woods and he allowed as how he’d never been exactly lost, but one time he was confused for three days. Make your own mistakes. At least you will know where you are.

Well, you can imagine the rest. I got out of school, went back to western Massachusetts where my brother was living, but then I took it in mind to go west, and before I did – because I didn’t figure to ever be back east again – I thought I’d try to tell Mr. Emerson thank you for what his words had meant to me. So I went to Concord and took a room at the Inn and walked over to Emerson’s. Couldn’t very well make a phone call, you know, they’d have been forty years putting in a line. (That’s a joke for you.)

The little girl opened the door and said she’d see if Mr. Emerson was in – which meant, was he open to visitors, you know – and next thing there he is, tall, thin, sort of stately. I don’t mean pompous; he wasn’t that. Dignified, sort of. Naturally a bit reserved. Shy, maybe, come to think of it. I was 20, 21 at the time, I didn’t think that this older man – he must have been about 40 – might be shy just meeting a young college graduate. He was courteous and friendly, invited me in, and instead of going to his study he walked me though the hallway that led down the middle and into the dining room – that’s what you’d call it – where he introduced me to his wife.

Well, Frank, you know this part of the story. This is how you and me got introduced, you might say, in your Gateway vision. I looked at her and I recognized her, and you in your vision recognized her too but we were recognizing different people, you might say.

She was surprised that I actually looked at her and saw her. She was used to young men coming to see her husband and thinking of her like the maid, you might say. But she saw that I actually saw her as a person. Of course, you know what was going on: John Cotten had been married to the woman who was – how shall we say this? – related to her. It was a “past life” as you say, though you know the difficulties with that way of thinking about it. She “was” John’s wife that had died, in the way that I “was” John. So there was that recognition that passed between us. And then on your end, you were dealing with the woman who “was” Lidian Emerson, and John’s wife, so the recognition was pretty powerful to you – a sort of three-way recognition – John and me and you, all dealing with the same “family” so to speak of identities. And of course that is why that moment was given to you – to wake you up. It took a lot!

Well, so I made polite noises, because of course I didn’t have any idea what was going on, just knew she seemed important somehow. And then at some point I got introduced to Henry Thoreau, who Emerson thought we’d get along being about the same age. And Henry was five years older than me, and he was living with Emerson, so it made for a little distance – as if his own personality with strangers wouldn’t have been distance enough! But we all  went off for a walk – walked down to Walden Pond, though none of us had any idea it would become famous, or why – and Emerson kindly tried to draw me out, and I tried to tell him what his ideas had meant to me, which wasn’t any easier for Henry being right there, prickly pear that he was. But after a while we left off talking and just went along enjoying the day, because we all three greatly liked walking in silence through the woods, listening. And that smoothed things out some, and after a while we sat by the side of the lake – well, Henry and I sat on stones, or a log or something, and Emerson stood, I remember that, benignly smiling down at us – and maybe we did exchange a few true words.

Not every communication takes place with words, you know. Ask “the guys” another time about people as sacred spots. But that’s enough for now. You’re tired.

Thank you my friend. It is always a pleasure.

Chasing Smallwood — .33. The challenge of our times

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and

the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

[Friday, February 17, 2006]

All right. It is 8 a.m., nearly, the start of a cloud-heavy morning. If you’re ready to answer [my brother] Paul’s question – what is the real challenge of our time, what is the equivalent of the Civil War to us – I’m ready to hear it.

You have heard it many times, each time in a slightly different context. You have expressed it many times, enough that it is just another of your beliefs. What is your Iona book about, after all?

Pardon us while we circle around the subject. You know how a dog has to circle before it can lie down and sleep, it is a reassuring habit.

Look at what the crisis can’t be. That will add conviction.

Can it be political? Economic? Ideological? You have already fought those battles, and everyone is sick of them. Can it be religious? Same answer. People have struggled over these questions, and some always will struggle. But they do not define your time.

In the 1500s and 1600s, religious questions – the relation of religious organization to state power and to society and to categories of everyday thought. Once the state monopoly of Catholic thought was broken up, has anyone been proposing to return to it? No, the West moved on to other questions.

In the 1700s and 1800s – again, staying with the West, because that is where the world’s power was – the destruction of the medieval viewpoint and the birth of the industrial viewpoint came in a long series of political and then nationalistic struggles. You have experienced plenty of social upheavals since – but how many fundamentally transforming revolutions? American, French, Russian, in ascending order of fundamental transformation – and of violence. And, the nations expressed themselves. Are there new nations coming forth? Welsh devolution, Scot devolution, the emergence of French Canada, are mere afterthoughts with sometimes slightly comic overtones, in the way that minor actors playing major roles sometimes are.

In the 1900s, ideology. Fascism, Communism, Nazism, and many minor variants not noted. In your day you see the stragglers, your shrill right-wing and left-wing know-it-all podium pounders. Do you imagine that they are the wave of the future rather than the remnants of the shipwrecked past?

What we are saying is that the energy has gone out of all these things. With all the ill-will in the world, with all the cock-sure certainty, no one is going to be another Napoleon riding on revolutionary fervor or nationalism. There are moments of intensity, but it is a fire of straw, quickly flaring up, quickly burning out.

So do not look in old directions for the meaning of your time, or the fundamental challenge. These are shadow puppets that you are projecting against the wall – and scaring yourselves with! And as to partisan politics, we smile. In fact we laugh. The only thing that partisan politics does is to keep people occupied and out of trouble. It keeps lawyers and ad men and activists happy and occupied; it channels vast amounts of otherwise troublesome public emotion; it expresses but does not create public sentiment. This, except very occasionally.

You are fond of quoting Lincoln’s statement about the purpose and nature of politics, which is to create an effect and then fight that effect. Those who understand this have their fingers on the mainspring of things; those who don’t, should ponder the statement. There is a world of practical wisdom there.

But, we say to you – you having asked – politics is not the mover of anything, it is the result. If one of the major parties were to decide to instigate compulsory vegetarianism, say, how far do you think it would get? But if a movement for compulsory vegetarianism were to spring up, how long do you think it would be before one of the parties discovered that compulsory vegetarianism was deeply entwined in its principles? Try not to confuse cause and effect, or perhaps we should say locomotive and caboose.

Neither are the physical and organizational challenges of your day the central crisis of your time. The challenges are very real, and there are a lot of them – and they are all coming to a head just at about the same time. Isn’t that an interesting coincidence?

We smile.

Nothing of your old ways is sustainable in the spirit in which it operates. Does that not tell you something? Your economies, your environment, your animal companions, your social balance – none of it. You are ringed by the desperately poor economically – and by the desperately poor spiritually and mentally. Is it not obvious?

Hopefully this brief circuit is enough to move you from your accustomed thought. If it is not, then either your accustomed thoughts are closer to ours than the average, or we are meeting no response with you. Here is our thesis, and those for whom it is dead should leave it: Not in politics nor ideology nor religious forms, nor social upheaval is your salvation. Not in technology or scientific investigation or social organization and reorganization is your way out. Not in –

Well, no point in continuing; you get the idea or you don’t.

The crisis in your time is the greatest to be faced in recorded history. (Note the adjective.) it needs to be, to provide the energy to propel you – propel us – to the next stage in human development. And here is where we burst categories. That is what a transformative crisis does – it bursts categories. From the far side of the crisis there is no going back, because everything is different. You are different.

We stress this – and we went on that little survey ramble – because it is easier to say something new than to have it be heard as something new. Without new ears to hear, without (in other words) your being at a new place mentally and spiritually, the news will be filtered through your old categories and will seem embarrassingly vapid, or obviously ridiculous, or – favorite thing of the academic habit of mind – “nothing but” that and that comprising element. Why do you think Jesus kept saying “let those of you who have ears, hear.” He was saying “these words will mean one thing to many, but something much more to those who are in a place to really hear them.” So, here. The ears you bring to the message determine what you hear. It can be no other way.

And this, incidentally, explains or should explain why so much that is precious and even vital has not been absorbed. It isn’t that the masters ever wanted to keep it secret! They wanted to give it away freely, but could find only a few ears able and ready to hear. Think of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, whose forthcoming destruction must have been plain to him. “How many times did I try to give you the key,” he said, “and yet you wouldn’t and couldn’t hear me.” And – just for an aside to an aside – we deliberately used “wouldn’t” and “couldn’t” to remind you that Jesus wasn’t speaking English! Revere the spirit, not the form.

What can the defining crisis of your time be but a spiritual one? And yet, to say “spiritual” is to mislead. Again, the crisis will burst categories.

In your time the destruction of the materialist illusion proceeds from all sides. It loses its scientific underpinning. It fails the practical test of providing meaning. It offers no hope of a better future. Each of these sentences is an essay in itself, but for the moment we will not stop to provide them. Thought and meditation will provide them for you.

The death of materialism as an operating principle leaves your time as a loss. The poor cannot look to achieving your American standard of living. Americans living it – and Europeans – know that it isn’t an answer to meaning anyway. And the hypertrophy of concentration of wealth demonstrates in any case that a society’s accumulation of wealth is not necessarily to the benefit of any but a predatory few. (And this is how it always has been in uncontrolled society. Remind us sometime to speak of the models that have succeeded.)

You may have guessed that we had a reason for discussing the Civil War. It is the previous step taken. And Abraham Lincoln played a major role in the history – and future – of the world, as is recognized already but only in a restricted context. As matters play out, his ultimate significance will be seen more clearly.

So many essays and side-trails, and we cannot pause for them!

The struggle in your time is between inclusion and exclusion. Here you will find the key to every specific, for every problem in your time will naturally align itself in the magnetic field of the defining polarity. And so you see that Lincoln’s role was to make a major inclusion – bringing the inclusion of another race into the shared idea that was America. In other words from that time it was no more a dream of one race – even a race of many nations but all European “whites” – but now a totally unprecedented expansion to be more than one race. And once black, then there was no logical barrier to yellow, red, and brown. Of course you are still in the initial stage of working all this out – of living the expanded ideal – but the decision was made, and ratified in blood and military success, and there was no going back for the human race.

Yes, for the human race. The American experiment was unique, and might have been held to one race, and would have failed and could not have been re-created. It was to preserve this over-archingly important pattern that states rights was sacrificed, and much more would cheerfully have been thrown onto the fire from this side as best we could.

The struggle is between two ways of seeing things – inclusive and exclusive; unitary and divided; and this means, ultimately, it is between two forces, Love (attraction and interpenetration) and Fear (repulsion and attempted separation.)

Now, don’t say “oh, that’s only Course in Miracles” or “that’s only” anything! You cannot hear without new ears to hear with. But once you have new ears, of course you will find that it has all been said – but you will understand it perhaps for the first time.

Love versus Fear. Faith versus fear. Courage, joy, life – versus fear.

This is the crisis of your time. But you may ask – how is this a crisis? What is the practical working-out of this?

Those of you who are willing to live in love will find your way by always seeking to include, rather than drawing logical or other distinctions and drawing lines saying “us” versus “them.” Now of course this immediately brings in a paradox, in that we’re saying in effect, “the world must not be divided, so don’t be like those who divide things.” This too can be transcended by realizing that everything may be seen as part of a polarity rather than as opposition. If you are a part of a polarity, you are a necessary part; something had to be playing that part. So it takes you beyond the blaming and the excluding. Hitler, Stalin, played their part. They were not arbitrary occurrences – nothing in life is arbitrary, despite appearances. They were, you might say, the personification of social forces.

You will live in love, and will continuously draw nearer to all people, to all animals and birds and fishes, to all things created, to all things not physically manifest. You will rejoice in what is, and will not fear the future, even as you work to affect that future in what you do and – more vitally – in what you are.

Or – you will express the other side of the polarity and will live in fear, and soon in hatred and despair. You will divide, and divide, and divide, until you whittle away your standing-place and are alone in a howling wilderness.

You will contribute toward the creation of a new consciousness – for that and nothing less is what is at issue here – or you will lose yourself in a wilderness of repelling mirrors behind which (you will fear) are unnamed horrors.

This is the challenge of your times, nothing less. Do you think, now, that environmental cleanup or political triumph or any other issue is at the same level?

And, Frank, do you see why we did not begin this last night or yesterday? This has taken an hour and a quarter and you are already tired at 9:15! How far would we have gotten yesterday afternoon?

Yes, well, as always, my thanks, and presumably the thanks of those with ears to hear. I am tired. I hope I will be able to decipher to transcribe.

Chasing Smallwood — .32. The physical and the non-physical

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and
  • the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

[7 a.m. Thursday, February 16, 2006]

(11 a.m.) All right. Typed that up and sent it out. Continue?

Your second questions was, do we communicate up here, and – to throw ‘em both in together – if what you do there affects what I can do here.

Sure we communicate! We do nothing but communicate. But it ain’t exactly like conveying information; more like communicating states of being. This won’t be all that easy for you to get, and maybe we’ll have to call in somebody else, but let’s try. What you learn today, what happens to you inside and outside, changes you, a little or a lot. In your bodies, you don’t notice these changes so much, or so quickly. So what you regard as communicating, we think of as smoke signals! That is, you ain’t communicating very much! You’re hinting.

Us, it’s different. If something changes me, it changes me all the way through, and anybody touching onto me knows it, and that changes them too. And the people they touch feel their change, and change in turn. You see how volatile it all is?

So what do you think? You think it makes any difference to the other side what you do, when everything you do or think or feel – or choose, in short – affects us and has to affect us and can’t help affecting us?

You see? Sometimes you think what happens in physical world isn’t important. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your choices continually affect us, as we affect you. Does this speak of our interest in your life? Does it speak to the feeling that you have that what you are – what you choose to become – somehow matters?

You see? What is this but the feeling that (on the one hand) God loves and cares for you and (on the other hand) you have a responsibility. It is true that religions put rules around it all, and it is true that every vision includes distortion, and so you get the vindictive God, the angry God, the judgmental God, the capricious and arbitrary God. This can’t be helped much, because it is human nature to conceive its God in the only model it knows: itself. “God is created in the image of man.”

It is a new day; it demands new images of God. Your present natures will not content themselves with older containers, for they do not fit you. What relationship do you have with an image of God molded from the monarchs of Assyria? Yet the underlying reality does not change. This is why version after version of an image of God appears: You need to have some recognizable model of reality, yet your perception of reality changes, and therefore reality appears to change, and the model must change. You will make better models if you study the older ones and try to see what the older model-makers were seeing, than to start continually from scratch. There can be an advantage sometimes to starting from scratch, but not continually.

(1 p.m. So – last question for the moment – what is your life there?

That is not the easiest question you have ever asked. If it could really be told, it would be told, of course. But translation errors overwhelm. Here is a thought experiment:

If your life and motivations and surroundings were exactly the same except that you knew and experienced at all times that all is connected, and if consequences were not delayed, and if you could range where you wanted to in time and space – but could not be fixed in one time-space and could not experience delayed consequences – what would your life be?

And if, at the same time you were in this condition of freedom-of-time-and-place and immediate consequences and total connection, one part of you was connected to just those opposing conditions –what would your life be?

That is our situation; and given that you are part of us, it is your situation as well. You identify with one end of the continuum, we with the other – for the moment. That is the biggest difference.

3:30. Well, friends, you heard my brother ask [in an email] what is the ultimate crisis, the root of so much that is wrong. (You also heard him suspect that you’re just teasing us, wanting to be begged for information. Did you hear me defending you? )

You know our methods, and expressed them very well. We approach a subject by circling around it, as the context in which something is seen determines how it looks. Another way to say that is, the context one sees from determines what can be seen. That is a major theme here, of course.

It is also true that we are attempting to monitor your energy usage. It would not do to make you an example of what can go wrong, when we’re busy making you an example of what can go easily and well. So this limits our sessions somewhat. Also, given that this is being distributed in email, and not everyone prints out their email, the shorter the session the greater chance that it will actually be read. We might even recommend sending them in pieces, as you used to send your black-box transcriptions.

We don’t want to say more at this time. You did get some exercise, and that is very good. Get some rest too. Perhaps after supper, depending on how you feel.

Okay.

 

Two remarkable films

Courtesy of Netflix (which in context means courtesy of my brother, whose gift the subscription to Netflix was), I have just seen two extraordinary films. One, “Land of Mine,” is a drama. The other “Under Fire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro, ” is a documentary.

In both cases, moving isn’t the word for it. They are true experiences, that will not leave you unchanged.

“Land of Mine” uses fiction to tell the story of some of the young German POW’s in Denmark who, in 1954, were assigned the extremely dangerous task of removing the two million mines the German army buried on Denmark’s west coast against a possible Allied invasion. (More than half those who were assigned the task were killed or injured, the film says.) But the story is not so much about the hair-raising task itself as about the legacy of hatred that five years of occupation had left in the hearts of the Danish people, and the beginnings of reawakening to the humanity of the other side.

Hemingway pointed out in For Whom the Bell Tolls that war rarely kills the ones who deserve killing — the fascists who plan the wars, who commit the atrocities, who direct the terror. Instead, it tends to kill innocent young boys caught up in the army, often against their will. That’s the subtext here, that and the struggle between hatred and decency in the victims of so much entirely unmerited horror.

Tony Vaccaro was a combat soldier who took photos throughout the nine months he spent at war, from Normandy to the Elbe. He became a professional after the war, but his shots during the war were not amateur Kodak moments. He set our to make an honest record, then couldn’t bear to look at his negatives for decades. The thing that makes this documentary extraordinary is that it blends his photography on 1944 and 1945 with modern footage, and with commentary from (and footage of) the old man he has become, as long as commentary from various Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalists.

Professional rah-rah patriots probably won’t like either of these films, but real people will.

Bruce in 1998, working

I sketched this from life, then started to paint it, but never got around to correcting the color and the arms. Bruce was working on one of his many electronic projects, in Dave Wallis’ then-unfinished house on Creekside Lane, on the New Land near TMI. I wish I had finished the painting while I still had Bruce living nearby, but it didn’t happen. So, instead of hanging in the Tate, it will have to remain as a reminder of a friendship and of another time. Hard to really feel the fact that this was nearly 20 years ago.