More from Robert Kennedy - 2.
December 7th, 2009
Santa Cruz, California
Received by FAB
I am here, Robert Kennedy.
I want you to type out the following two important paragraphs on page 345 of Evan Thomas’ excellent biography of me, and then I will comment.
“In the years since his brother’s death, Kennedy had shown a capacity for growth, but the myth of his transformation, like most Kennedy legends, has been exaggerated. In some ways, one could argue, he retrogressed, albeit for the better. The hard shell he had put on to win his father’s respect cracked open, allowing his vulnerability to show. The wants and needs of his boyhood could never be met. At some level, he still craved attention and needed to demonstrate that he mattered. Deep in his being, he was still the boy who plunged into Nantucket Sound because he couldn’t swim and because no one in his family seemed to care.
“The debate over whether RFK became a ‘new man’ after his brother’s death is in some ways unresolvable, if not fatuous. Those who knew him equally well before and after November 1963 could justly reach opposite, or nearly opposite, conclusions. Richard Goodwin: ‘He was always restrained by his brother’s memory, it made him more cautious - I don’t think he really freed himself until the day he died - but he did change. It happened to St. Augustine, so he knew it could happen to him. Internally, he changed a lot, from acute defiance to much more acceptance. He became less judgmental. He lost his dogmatism.’ David Hackett: ‘Did Bob change? No. He was a very complex person in 1943 and 1944 and a very complex person in 1968 …. He did get less impatient, more philosophical, more fatalistic.’”
Well, I was indeed complex, and I could not escape my past - none of us can. But my brother the president’s death was the most profound shock in my life, and it activated all the best in me. I took life seriously because I thought life was serious, even as I indulged in the pleasures of the idle rich. I was always sensitive, so the pain of his loss wrenched my soul so profoundly that for a long time, I could barely function.
But I did change, for without my brother at the helm, I was the lone pilot for the very first time. In my explorations of literature and poetry, I could easily identify with the themes of alienation, responsibility, and absurdity, as in Camus, and the themes of pride and fate in the ancient Greeks. This broadened my perspective considerably. I was exploring areas never touched before. I emerged stronger.
As fate would have it, the dominant influence of my young life, my father, because of his stroke, was no longer the authoritative figure he once was. So fate conspired to liberate me despite myself. Something new opened up in my soul. I was able to connect with parts of my personality, and I felt more focused. As I reflected on my feud with President Lyndon Johnson, I saw that I had created the antagonism he had for me. I was blind to the fact that I had been unkind and cruel to him - I could only see where he was the same for me.
Mr. Thomas has done an excellent job of speculating about myself, and he analyzes me with great perception and sensitivity. But I say to him, “yes, I did change later in life.”
This message is the very first time the medium recorded his thoughts directly into a computer, rather than by hand.