A Place to Stand is available as an ebook

Bob Friedman tells me that my book about 10 prep sessions at The Monroe Institute is now up on Kindle. I haven’t entered the ebook world, so i don’t know how one downloads it, but he assures me that anyone who owns a Kindle already knows. It is part of his Rainbow Ridge Books line.

I’m very pleased to have this long-term project off my desk. Although published out of order, the chronological order of the sessions reported on and digested was this:

A Place to Stand (2000)

The Sphere and the Hologram (2001-02)

Chasing Smallwood (2005-06)

Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway (2006-2011)

The Cosmic Internet (2011)

Still to come (maybe) are a book of transcripts and commentary on ten sessions in 2004 in which Rita Warren participated, and one or two books from the material that came in such a spate in 2006 but has not yet been digested and sorted into something more usable.

I asked guidance, not so long ago, if it was really worthwhile to continue to publish work that wasn’t meeting a huge response (to put it mildly) and was asked which i would prefer — to die leaving materials that could never be assembled by anyone, or die leaving assembled manuscripts whether or not they were published.

Wise guys!

Hemingway: Helping people to feel

An excerpt from Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway

[May 18, 2010] Papa, I suppose that “The Doctor And The Doctor’s Wife” is built upon your life but is no word-for-word autobiography, even necessarily disguised autobiography — and critics who approach your work go wrong to think so.

That’s right. A writer takes what he knows and tries to render it so that it’s truer than the real thing, so that people who weren’t there can get it even though they weren’t there. So you have to intensify and magnify and simplify and clarify — and you have to do all that without distorting the subject! It’s like Georgia O’Keeffe painting her tiny subjects huge, so you can’t help seeing. Now, this is not a blanket endorsement for Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting style or subject matter. It’s an illustration. She painted tiny things in proportion but huge, so if you glance at it, you have a chance of getting something of what she had seen, and if you looked longer, she had done it so carefully that you couldn’t keep seeing more and more closely into it. My writing, the same idea: The real thing has to be portrayed larger than life, starker, changed in so many ways, if it is going to have the effect on you that the original emotion had on me.

Continue reading Hemingway: Helping people to feel

Planetary Spirit interview link

On December 20th, Jeff Ferrinnini and I did a one-hour radio interview on his show Planetary Spirit, which is produced out of Boston. The subject:  Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway. I noted at the time that Jeff is a joy to interact with: He reads the book carefully and thinks about what he has read.

The interview is now accessible online. http://www.mediafire.com/?jammb3brgbqtwkb


“Indian Camp” — A boy’s perspective

I have said that this section of Chapter Two of Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway could be called “Papa teaches little Frank to read what isn’t there.” Might teach you something too, if you don’t already know it.

A boy’s perspective

[May 16 and 17, 2010] A friend of mine, a retired teacher of literature in Denmark, followed these conversations as I sent them around on the Internet, and one day wrote me that her students never could decide which was the point of “Indian Camp,” that Uncle George was really the father of the baby and so the Indian killed himself, or that the Indian couldn’t stand her pain, and so he killed himself. So I asked which it was.

Neither. When you read my stories, look at every element in them. You may not know why, but every element is there for a reason. And, remember, you are to get an emotion from it. Look at the last line.

Nick knew that he would never die.

List the elements in “Indian Camp.”

[“Indian Camp” is only three pages long, but I listed many thing, including: the rowboat with two waiting Indians; Nick, his father, Uncle George; two rowboats, each with an Indian rowing; George smoking a cigar and giving the Indians cigars; a dog barking, then more dogs; an old Indian woman holding a lamp; the young Indian woman who had been trying to give birth for two days; her husband, who had cut his foot badly three days earlier; Nick’s father explaining that her screams were not important; no anesthetic; hot water, coffee, and sterilization; the doctor washing hands carefully and thoroughly, explaining why; the woman biting Uncle George during the operation; Nick’s father showing Nick, and Nick looking away; Nick’s curiosity had been gone for a long time; Uncle George looked at his arm. The young Indian smile reminiscently; Nick’s father excited and talkative afterwards. “One for the medical journal”; “oh you’re a great man all right.” The proud father dead with throat cut. “sorry I brought you, Nick. Awful mess”; always such a hard time? Exceptional”; “Why did he kill himself? Couldn’t stand things, I guess”; do many kill themselves? Not very many; do many women? Hardly ever; “is dying hard?” “I think pretty easy. Depends”; the sun coming up. Bass jumped. Hand in water; quite sure he would never die]

So compressed; hard to summarize more than it already was.

All right. Now, try to relax and we’ll get it through. Can you see how sex and death are interwoven in the boy’s experience?

I guess it was his first sight of a woman’s sex organs, and in a gory context. I guess that’s why “he looked away, his curiosity gone for a long time.”

And he asks if many men kill themselves, if many women do, and why, and is dying hard. And the physical surroundings — the morning, the warmer water, the fish, his father rowing — makes him “quite sure that he would never die.” Going forward in the dark it had been first the three white men, or the two and the boy, then they met the Indians and divided, then they were all together, then George went off by himself, then it was Nick and his father returning in the daytime.

I’m afraid I am still too dense to get the full intent.

The doctor intended to begin Nick’s education, but he got more than he had bargained for. He was not an evil or cruel man, but he turned off his emotional response to do the job he was there to do. Coming back he told Nick he was sorry he had gotten him involved, but he wasn’t sorry for anything else — not his lack of sympathy for the mother, not his own unawareness of the effect of someone’s pain on someone else. He didn’t realize. He didn’t realize that the Indian — who couldn’t get away because of his foot — would be affected by the pain that he himself had disregarded — not the pain but the evidence of pain, the screams.

I don’t understand the Indian smiling reminiscently. Just to bring the connection to sex back?

The same action in different contexts has different meanings, and it can suggest connections. As it did.

Nick was a boy and he didn’t really understand a lot about what he was seeing, did he?

That’s the point exactly. That’s exactly it. He was quite sure he would never die. He would also never get involved in messy situations, would never be callous or unimaginative, would never cause pain and certainly would never kill himself. That’s why the last line. He recorded, he remembered, he observed, but he didn’t really understand — and the reader who did understand got the point. It wasn’t designed to teach obstetrics or fishing, and it wasn’t a detective story. It was to feel that state of observing but not understanding.

And Uncle George?

He showed sympathy in contrast to his brother’s (or could be his brother in-law’s; didn’t matter) businesslike manner-of-fact attitude. George shared cigars; George helped, though it is mentioned only in the doctor asking him to move the blanket; George was a little disgusted by the doctor’s slight bragging and his self-satisfaction; George was upset by the suicide and didn’t want to be around the doctor’s matter-of-fact attitude about it, even though the doctor was upset. The two men were upset about it in different ways. The doctor was upset that Nick had seen it, that it was senseless and unnecessary. George could imagine the man’s cumulative state — for he had been unable to get away, remember. He had badly cut his foot the day before she had started going into labor two days before. He’d stood it all. The doctor abstractly understood, but he didn’t necessarily let himself feel it. His concern was for Nick. Where did Uncle George go? He’ll turn up all right. In other words, nothing happened to him; he’s safe. But he’s not in sight. So you see, George was there to bring out certain aspects that couldn’t have come out if the doctor and Nick had been there alone among the Indians. George was hurt, he was injured, by the woman’s pain, as the doctor was not. But there’s no need to make George the baby’s father — if I’d had that in mind, you’d have known, and if I’d had that in mind and you hadn’t known, I’d have failed (assuming perception on your part).

Another strand to the story was good intentions going astray, wasn’t it?

Yes. The doctor saved the baby and the mother but never thought of the father; he wanted to give Nick experience but gave him more than he wanted to. George was there in sympathy but never realized who needed it, and wasn’t able to do anything except help in the operation.

Other elements in the story?

Well, reread it again and see if it looks different now.

I see that it is a description as a young boy would see it. The objects that stood out to him. And I noticed, this time, the line about the men having moved off up the road to be out of the range of her screaming. Her husband is smoking a pipe, like them, but he is right there. As you say, he couldn’t get away.

When the doctor says the screams are not important is when the husband rolls over against the wall. And you will notice, the young Indian woman after the operation “did not know what had become of the baby or anything.” Nick’s perception, you see. Sensory inputs still wide open, regardless of what he did or didn’t understand.

I can see how the stories were aimed: you wanted people to react to them as they reacted to life. The stories affect you as life comes at you, and they affect you but you may not know why or how.

That’s it exactly. Does this say anything about how far off the critics were? If you criticize the facts of the story but don’t absorb the atmosphere of it, you can’t see the reason for the facts. So you don’t know what you’re talking about. You wind up trying to make George the father because of the cigars, or you ask about the wrong things. But the reason for the story is right there in the final line: “In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.”

That’s as much as I can do for now. Thank you. I’m learning something.

Planetary Spirit interview

Just got off the phone from a one-hour radio interview with Jeff Ferrinini about Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway.

He is a joy to interact with: He reads the book carefully and thinks about what he has read.

The show, Planetary Spirit,  is produced in Boston. Today’s interview will be accessible online at some point. When Jeff tells me when, I will pass on the information.

Coast to Coast AM, next month

Okay, we’re going to do it all again

Gearing up for radio interviews for Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway, as we did last year for The Cosmic Internet.

The biggest show is Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. That show really helped last year. The show’s producer and I talked today and she scheduled me for Thursday October 11, 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., eastern time. (That’s Wednesday October 10, 10 p.m. to midnight, Pacific time.)

Details, and periodic updates, right here, courtesy of my good friend Rich Spees.