By Ken Adachi <Editor@educate-yourself.org>
September 15, 2005
I just finished
viewing an American Masters documentary over public television
station KCET (Channel 28, southern California) on the life of writer Ernest
Hemingway . I don't know how long ago it was produced, but it was the first
time that I saw it. It was a powerful documentary-like Hemingway's writing.
Hemingway usually referred to his writing as 'work' whenever
he discussed the subject with his publisher or friends. He used expressions
like "the work is going well.... I've got 15,000 words already and
expect another 10,000 by the end of the August". I saw photos of his
manuscripts in Life magazine and he did routinely add up the number of his
words in pencil along the margins of his typed manuscripts. Out of curiosity,
I took out a magnifying glass once and added up the number columns myself
just to see if Hemingway had made an error. And indeed he did!
In fact, he made TWO of them. The second error in addition,
however, had perfectly compensated for the first error and the two errors
had cancelled themselves, so that the total number of words still added
up to the correct figure. That told me something about Hemingway. That told
me that he worked on a conscious and subconscious level simultaneously.
What his conscious mind didn't notice, his subconscious mind filled in for
In order to be a good novelist, you need to develop the ability
to accurately recall the smallest of detail, in scene or dialog. Odors,
tactile description, the temperature, the hue of the clouds, etc., they
all add to the tapestry of narration. It takes practice, like any art form.
You also need to make every word count and learn to be utterly ruthless
in trimming your script down to the leanest weight possible. One technique
that Hemingway used to judge the suitability of his words for a critical
line was to type big spaces between each word in the sentence and decide
on its own merits.
Culling 'driftwood' is basic to good writing.
I was greatly influenced by Hemingway's novels and short stories
when I was a young man. I started to read his books in earnest about 1963,
less than two years after he committed suicide with a shotgun in July of
1961. Hemingway had lived life so hard and so fully, that he was essentially
spent and had nothing else to give in his work. He had gone to the 'well'
too often, comments biographer A.E. Hotchner, and there was 'nothing left
to draw upon'. Hemingway also could not accept the autumn of life with grace.
He had to be virile and strong forever. Hunting, big game fishing, drinking,
sexual prowess, and writing well had to go on forever or life wasn't worth
living for him. He was 62 when he died.
To be fair, Hemingway was also greatly depressed by the death
of his friend, actor Gary Cooper who died in 1960 of cancer. It was a slow
and painful death and the wasting away of Cooper's body was deeply etched
in Hemingway's mind. Shock treatments for depression and high blood presure
didn't help improve his outlook either. You might be interested to know
that Hemingway's father, a successful medical doctor, also committed suicide
with a gun to the head, as did Hemingway's' granddaughter, the actress Muriel
Hemingway. My intuitive feeling is that these tragedies evolve when you
store all of your eggs for happiness in the Land of Physicality and Materialism,
where youth is considered King. If you don't recognize that you are an immortal
spirit being temporarily housed within a fleshy body for a limited time
to perform a specific task, then your priorities and self-view are going
to lead you down some dark corridors where happiness and peace cannot grow.
self-view also reminds me of the Japanese writer Mashima, who also took
his life while still young in order to avoid the inevitable decline that
comes with later years. Sometimes, unhappy young people view these suicides
as romantic or alluring, but there's nothing attractive about death. Youth
and virility have their place, but it's not the only road to happiness and
fulfillment. All things have their time and place and life can be an endless
adventure if you play your cards right.
If you ever talk with a medium or psychic who can communicate
with departed spirits, they will invariably tell you that people who commit
suicide ALWAYS woefully regret having committed suicide when they get on
the Other Side because they then realize two things: that they are not "dead"
and are still very much 'alive' (but now at a higher rate of vibration in
another dimension), and that things were not as bad as they had viewed them-once
they obtained the wider perspective of the spirit world. Besides, people
who commit suicide are required to spend the remainder of what would have
been their natural earth lifetime on the lower astral plane, close to the
earth, until their 'completed' life time has elapsed. Let me tell you that
the lower astral plane is not necessarily a fun place to be. There are a
lot of "low life" spirits who inhabit that realm. Anyone who knows
two cents worth of metaphysics knows that committing suicide is just plain
dumb. Live out the life (and mission) that God intended you to live. As
long as you are alive, you have a daily opportunity to provide happiness,
understanding, fulfillment, peace, love, and forgiveness for others, yourself,
For my money, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The
Old Man and The Sea stand out as two of the finest stories written
in the twentieth century.
I once met and spoke a bit with Hemingway's unauthorized
biographer, A.E. Hotchner. He was giving a talk at a local university on
the East coast and after fielding questions from the audience, he realized
that I knew a great deal about Hemingway's work, and so we chatted a bit
after the audience left. It was fun. I had come to associate closely with
Hemingway's vibration and views as a result of reading his published works
so thoroughly. Talking with Hotchner seemed to make that connection somehow
closer. "Papa Hemingway" was the title of Hotchner's biography.
The final scene of the American Masters documentary
described above ends with a view of Hemingway's rustic Idaho home on a beautiful
summer day while we hear a muffled gun blast and the camera pans upwards
towards the sky. The writing on the bottom of the screen says that Hemingway
committed suicide in July of 1961. The camera finally concludes its upward
ascent with a wide angle view of the most beautiful Sylph
you could ever imagine.
Perhaps we made a 'connection' with Papa Hemingway after all.
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