Sunday, October 4, 2015
F: 5 a.m. Okay, Papa, I don’t know quite what to ask to get us started, but we are still looking at how you discovered parts of yourself you hadn’t experienced, in Italy in 1918.
Not directive enough? Or maybe the coffee hasn’t yet kicked in? Or maybe you need some coffee?
Or – maybe later?
EH: No, mostly I was waiting for you to collect yourself.
F: True, I am feeling a little scattered, a little bit “in neutral,” shall we say. Better now?
EH: Well, as usual – we’ll see.
F: So can you get to what we’re looking for?
EH: We’ll see about that, too.
When you’ve suddenly lost your sense of invulnerability – the other guy may get killed, but it won’t be you – and at the same time you gain a first-hand sense of having a soul, which implies an afterlife, it changes you. I don’t know how many other guys had the same experiences, because mostly people knew better than to talk about it, but in my case I can see it had a couple effects, and maybe not the ones you – Frank – would expect.
It didn’t make me reassured and trusting. Just the opposite. It taught me in one instant (that kept getting louder as it kept reverberating) just how precious life was, and how easily you could lose it, and that when you lost it, you really lost something. I didn’t know what was coming next – for all I knew it was judgment day – but I could see it was going to be a change, and it meant I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy this life, on this planet, at this time. And I wanted to! I didn’t mind dying, everybody had to die sometime, I knew that, but I didn’t want to die then. Or any time in the foreseeable future, if I could do anything about it.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
F: Very well, Papa, it is 3:50 a.m. and my rule of thumb is, if it is 3 or later when I wake up, and I feel alert enough to begin, off we go.
I do want to ask, who are we going to be writing this for, or rather, what form is it? As you know, I’ve begun the process of reorganizing what we got earlier [and published as Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway] and putting it into your chronology rather than how it came to me – maybe should have done that right along – and I guess I’ll weave in this closer look, but what is it going to be?
EH: Perhaps you should remember what you learned from your friend Rita. To understand A, etc. We’re circling in on a better understanding, and maybe the end result will either shape itself or there won’t be an end-result. Does it matter?
F: It doesn’t matter in that this is its own reward, but it matters in that I’d like to have something at the end.
EH: But, you see, that is you forgetting about to understand A in terms of inability to see something new ahead of time.
F: Well, I’ll take your word for it. This much – day by day – I can do. So let’s continue with your religious experience as a 19-year-old on the Italian front in World War I.
Posted by Frank DeMarco under human potential, This World | Tags:
I don’t put a lot of political stuff on this blog, but I’m going to make an exception — if indeed it is an exception — because of the way I came to this, and the striking light it casts on our current situation.
I was at the Monticello visitor center last week, browsing expensively through their excellent bookshelves, and I bought A Patriot’s Handbook, a thick reader compiled by Caroline Kennedy, packed full of essays, poems, speeches, history, all on various aspects of the American experience. A wonderful treasure-trove. I have it on my dining room table, available for reading little bits while I eat. Today I came to Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural Address, and I was struck by how much it applied to us. (I am not a whole-hearted admirer of FDR, but I do believe he did his best according to his lights, and which of us can hope to do more than that?) Because I imagine that few people are familiar with this speech, i quote it here in full. Parts of it you will want to skim, probably. Other parts may hit you as hard as they did me, because again, I read this with 21st-century America’s plight in mind.
Roosevelt’s second inaugural address, Jan 20, 1937
When four years ago we met to inaugurate President, the Republic, single-minded in anxiety, stood in spirit here. We dedicated ourselves to the fulfillment of a vision—to speed the time when there would be for all the people that security and peace essential to the pursuit of happiness. We of the Republic pledged ourselves to drive from the temple of our ancient faith those who had profaned it; to end by action, tireless and unafraid, the stagnation and despair of that day. We did those first things first.
Our covenant with ourselves did not stop there. Instinctively we recognized a deeper need—the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. Repeated attempts at their solution without the aid of government had left us baffled and bewildered. For, without that aid, we had been unable to create those moral controls over the services of science which are necessary to make science a useful servant instead of a ruthless master of mankind. To do this we knew that we must find practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish men.
We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.
In this we Americans were discovering no wholly new truth; we were writing a new chapter in our book of self-government.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Constitutional Convention which made us a nation. At that Convention our forefathers found the way out of the chaos which followed the Revolutionary War; they created a strong government with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve problems utterly beyond individual or local solution. A century and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the American people.
Today we invoke those same powers of government to achieve the same objectives.
Friday, October 2, 2015
F: 3:45 a.m. Papa, I know that you were al fondo a very religious man, and I know that to many, it didn’t look that way. We’ve touched on this subject before, so I don’t know what we’re after that we haven’t explored already. But I can feel that it is critically important to understanding – what we started out looking at – what happened to you around To Have and Have Not.
EH: You remember that we drew a connection between my own religion, my superstitions, my intuition, my psychic flashes.
F: I do.
EH: If you look at them as different signposts pointing to the same inner reality, they make sense and they give you something you didn’t have otherwise. But if you look at each of them separately, they don’t seem to fit together – they seem to contradict each other, and they each seem to contradict much of the rest of my life.
F: The key is your connection to the non-physical, I would say.
Posted by Frank DeMarco under The Other World, This World | Tags:
Rita’s World, volume one, scarcely 10 months fro the beginning of our latest set of conversations.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
F: 5:30 a.m. Okay, Papa. Your new start.
EH: It’s hard for me to get across to people the radical break in my life. I’m trying to get it across here, but I don’t know if it can be done. Some, like you, get it instinctively. Others, though, just don’t, and I don’t quite know why.
Yes I do. It’s because people have a tendency to smooth things over and see continuation as a part of a pattern rather than as carrying on despite losing your way.
F: Now, you know that sentence will profit from my interpreting it so you can correct the interpretation.
EH: I do, but that’s what we’re here for, using each other’s statements to peel back the layers of misinterpretation. Go ahead.
F: I think we touched on this a few years ago – but maybe it was in “Papa’s Trial,” come to think of it. We know that x happened, and then some time later y happened, and the natural tendency, looking back, is to connect the two points with a smooth line rather than realize there may have been a lot of random motion and unnoticed events between the two. The nautical analogy that comes to mind – courtesy of you, I suppose – is of a boat in a storm, or in choppy waters, heading now this way, now that, at the mercy of external circumstance mingled with its own intent, finally coming out headed somewhere, and it looking like a smooth process only because we weren’t there.
Wednesday September 30, 2015
F: 8:30 p.m. So, Papa, you and Pauline and the church and a new life, next.
EH: Yes but just note that here and do something else. You don’t know how much this takes out of you, because it is so natural, seems so easy. Better once a day, not more.
F: All right, I can do that. Till tomorrow morning, then.
Wednesday September 30, 2015
F: 1:05 a.m. How about now?
EH: Well, we’ll see.
F: You know where we are. [long pause] Or maybe not quite yet.
EH: Probably better not. One or two more sleep cycles.
4:15 a.m. The clock said, clearly, two minutes to midnight, but I said to myself, “it can’t possibly be that,” and when I actually opened my eyes and got to a clock, it was 4:15. Two sleep cycles, as advertised. I sure had to force myself to my feet though. Interesting push / pull – my slightly wheezing lungs versus my reluctant frame. A little coffee should fix that.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
F: 4 a.m. Open for business after a day’s illness. So, when you lost the life you might have had with Hadley, you lost an image of yourself.
EH: I did. The story you make up to yourself about the life you are going to lead, and who and what you are, is important. Your story shapes your life as much as your actions do – unless your actions contradict your story, and then maybe you are in deep trouble.
If I had betrayed Hadley with Pauline but had come to my senses and said, “no, Hadley is my wife and she and I belong together, and if I have also come to love Pauline, that’s just too bad,” it wouldn’t have broken my life, you see? I did something I regretted, I had hurt Hadley, I had sinned – well, that’s too bad, but when you do something wrong the thing to do is to repent and go on. But that isn’t what happened. It could have happened, I suppose, theoretically, but it would have required that I be more self-aware, less greedy, and less intoxicated by Pauline.
I’m being as honest as I can here. I’m pretty sick of all the self-pitying lies I told myself – told myself strongly and often – to reduce my intolerable share of responsibility. In life in 3D, I tried to see it as everybody else’s fault; I needed to be the one who was acted upon, because the person I was then could not bear to be the villain of the piece – who could bear to be the villain in his own story? – and the only alternative was to nominate somebody else or everybody else.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
F: 5 a.m. All right, Papa, continuing? You were going to list the reasons why you were hurting because of your breakup with Hadley. Or – that isn’t it, but you know. You listed pride, guilt, loss—
EH: I was about to list what I was feeling, not exactly why I was feeling them. But yes, my pride was hurt because I thought I should have had sense enough to see what was happening – everybody around me did, I expect. I had made a fool of myself, and there wasn’t any two ways about it. That wasn’t the only thing, but it was there, and it was big. I never could stand making a fool of myself, especially in public.
And the guilt? Leave off thinking about Pauline’s part in it. I was front and center in the whole mess, and there wasn’t any getting around it. So then I had betrayed Hadley and it wasn’t half a dozen years since I had fallen head over heels in love with her and couldn’t imagine going on without her. I might be mad at her for this or that, but what could she have done, ever, to deserve being betrayed by me that way? And you know I had that conscience, and once it started in on me, it never quit. I could shout it down, or throw logic at it, or keep as busy as I could to try to not hear it, or I could promise to myself that I would make up for things – that I would atone for them, is one way to put it – but the fact is, it was like killing somebody and even if you get away with it, you would know for the rest of your life that you had done it. That kind of guilt dies down, with time, the way anything does, but it doesn’t go away, and any little unsuspected thing at just the right moment can bring it roaring back. It isn’t active all the time, but it is like a permanent flavor in your life, and you can get mighty tired of it, but you can’t get rid of it. And that can turn to resentment, of course, but Hadley never gave me an excuse to turn it in her direction, whereas Pauline did, and in spades. And that led me to do other things.