Tuesday, July 21, 2009
July 21, the birthday of Earnest Hemingway. I grew up with Hemingway being the literary giant of the age. "The Old Man And The Sea" was serialized in Life Magazine in the Fifties. I read it wondering at the futility of effort and life that exuded from the story, hoping for something more. An old fisherman caught this huge fish that pulled him for days until it surrendered and he brought it in after nearly killing himself to prove to the villagers that he was really worthwhile as a man. But when he got in the predators had eaten it. The reason I put the image in this of the "flowers in the dark" as I call them, is that Hemingway was a man with flowers in his heart but darkness in his soul.
Then he did lots of things he should not have, as most of us have, and had no tool to deal with it or cleanse himself of his overts and withholds as we call them, and suffered. The suffering from such by a sensitive soul is to bring self inflicted justice in such extreme measure upon ones self that it seems inexplicable that one could have so much bad luck. He made the mistake of seeking help from psychiatry, and shock treament. They put electrodes on both temporals and send huge jolts of electricity through to "cure" one. They have no clue as to what this is supposed to do, but it subdues the patient, giving him more problems than he had before. I have seen this happen over and over, and then the patient turns to drugs to ease the new pain overlaid on the old, and dies while still living. Hemingway took a shotgun and blew his brains out for he found he could no longer write or create----it stripped him of his creativity and thus his very life.
I know of a few who do not look for love. Some are able to sublimate the need for a partner with whom to laugh and create and satisfy needs with activity of some sort. I am one who needs both, needing a sexual partner and someone with whom I can create joy and life. I happen to love the grace and wonder of a beautiful woman. I recently fell obsessively into the abyss over an exotic Italian woman who couldn't make up her mind. She had me, lock stock and barrel. Her reach and withdraw was maddening. Maybe something like that happened to Hemingway. He was married a number of times, and loved the ladies, and when you play that game you expose yourself to the vicissitudes and wild random variables of the game, and can become a babbling idiot over a woman. I know it can drive one over the edge, but I fortunately had my tools of Scientology to save me. Poor bastard didn't have anything but psychiatry, the very essence of evil, which crushed him in its tentacles and destroyed the essence of his life.
There's a legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to create a six-word story, and he said, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Inspired by this, an online magazine invited readers to submit their own six-word memoirs, a collection of which was published by Harper Collins in 2008 as Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Six-word memoirs include: "All I ever wanted was more" and "Moments of transcendence, intervals of yearning" and "They called. I answered. Wrong number." (The above paragraph was stolen from today's The Writer's Almanac,by Garrison Keillor.
Seems both presidential candidates in the 2008 election said that his "For Whom The Bells Toll," was their favorite book. A wounded man in the Spanish Civil war heroically holds off the enemy while his comrades escape. I can see McCain holding this book to his breast, but the idea of Hussein Barak Obama having any courage or bravery as a mantra is a mockery.
I read somewhere that someone asked Hemingway about rewriting a story, saying, "I hear that you had to revise it fifteen times, why did it take so many times?" Hemingway replied, "to get the words right." Writing is rewriting. Write the story fast, et it out of you, put it on the paper, don't give a damn about grammar or anything, just get it out. Then go back and fix it. He was a master of minimalism. I wonder, with the writer and reader climate of today, if he would be recognized as the great icon he became or have been swallowed up in the stampede of writers trying to get attention---and if the women editors and publishers would have approved of his extreme maleness. I wonder. Seems the male icon is vanishing. At a writers conference, a woman editor/agent brayed to the audience, "The Day of the Male is dead, thank God." Appears she was close to right. Look what we got for a President.