[I need to get some kind of a large capacity voice recorder. Some of the conversations I have with myself in my more philosophical moments are all too often lost forever to time and make what I write appear amateurish in comparison.]
I finished my fourth Ernest Hemingway today (A Farewell to Arms) and it put me in a rather foul mood.
*** spoiler alert ***
don’t read on if you haven’t read much Hemingway and plan to
I started with The Sun Also Rises which ends with two of the main characters who love one another left to go about their lives independent of one another due to complexities in each of their lives – some consequences of their past but most self-imposed. (or at least their own mutual perceptions that these complexities somehow prevents them from being happy together are self-imposed) But alas I saw, fatalistic as it was, how Hemingway was trying to both tell a story of the wonders of Spain and also to draw a picture of typical human dramas ongoing in people with such complex lives full of such self-imposed predilections.
I then read The Old Man and the Sea. The old man’s luck seems to change after 80+ days without a fish when he hooks into and eventually lands the monster fish of his life – a four day ordeal that nearly kills him. After being dragged out to sea, he is tired bringing himself back to port and has to endure watching his fish-of-a-lifetime go to spoil at the mouths of sharks. It ends with him sick in bed, still poor, feeble and old, as random tourists look on in disgust at the gulls picking at the bones of his once glorious fish. But alas, the book is full of many great metaphors on life and aging and existence with great symbolism in the struggle and the fish and the old man and the sea.
So then I read For Whom the Bell Tolls. It led off with the poem carrying the title and the notion “no man is an island” which made me nervous about the theme from the start. It finished up as a tragedy with many of the more likable main characters dying in their participation in the effort to blow up a bridge. Alas, it was a story written to draw a vivid picture of the horrors of war and it had great character developments and great observations in the thoughts of the main character as he dealt with all the individuals in the story. And it does leave you with a firm feeling of the futility of warfare.
Finally, today I finished A Farewell to Arms. And I am still scratching my head as to the purpose – to what possible purpose was it necessary to kill Catherine at the end? There is none! I’m pissed now at Ernie for being such a depressing and fatalistic lout! There was no reason or cause for it! He’s just an ass for ending that book in that manner. Again, great writing and imagery and dialogues and character developments but killing the woman was completely unneeded.
This led me to a great deal of thinking in general about the futility of war and what might lead someone such as Hemingway to be such a hopeless fatalist. (I’ve heard stories from the mouths of first hand witnesses in northern Michigan that frequented his hangouts when fishing in our state. He was a drunk – a depressing drunk! No doubt his years as a war correspondent increased and re-enforced his fatalistic view of the world, and he seems to me to be sympathetic with materialism by way of how he writes. So perhaps he is a victim of his own illogic)
I guess when it comes to men in general, I can hold a fatalistic view of the outcomes but not of the potential. People hold so often to such irrational notions. And people can’t seem to be content with minding their own damn business when they have no cause to interfere in the lives of others. Sure, there are grounds for cause, but most of the rallies to war or conflict aren’t sufficient.
Needless to say, I went on for some time in this thread of thinking and had a great many thoughts – way too many to possibly recall and write down later. I really wish I’d had something to speak them into as some of the observations were – well they were a shame to lose to the moment.
*despite the title of this entry, I see why Hemingway was lauded as a good writer as eluded to in many of my comments on his work. I just wish he wasn’t so damn fatalistic and depressing!