Paying homage at Hemingway’s Paris shrines

I’m responding to a Daily Writing Prompt which, interestingly, resonates with a blog entry I wrote two years ago. The idea is to show some sort of homage, which I did, once; I could only show homage to Hemingway, because his simple, but profound, suggestions to writers formed a neural network in my brain that hasn’t been erased by time or experience. 

Writing For Non-Writers

I did something while in Paris last month that I actively rail against, and ordinarily deplore: I worshipped at two of the shrines associated with Ernest Hemingway. I struggle with the why of this, since it goes against everything I preach to beginning writers. My only excuse is that I was an English major three times over, and Hemingway said some very important things about writing, and so homage was due.

I deplore the worship of ‘the capital A’ author. I wish we didn’t put these people (usually, but not always, men) up on pedestals, then compare ourselves to them, telling ourselves their creativity is a unique act of divine inspiration we’re too ordinary to match, that The Author was stroked on the forehead at birth by a muse that will never visit us.

In other words, we take mere mortals and turn them into statues, dipped in the…

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24 thoughts on “Paying homage at Hemingway’s Paris shrines

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  6. Well, I see your point, but needed to get the damn thing out of my soul once and for all.

    I, too, traced some steps in Europe. Spain. France. I did, until recently, want to be in Cuba. To see what he saw with my eyes not to see what he saw with his. We know what he saw. I want to see myself and see the beauty and nobility of the seaside town. I might. It matters very little to me if I do now.

    Thank you.

      • Every time I think about Hemingway, I think about the mythology that he actively participated in creating about his life… he seems to have been rather desperate to be seen a certain way. The ‘manly man’ mystique lies like a mist around him, and yet, he was clearly so terribly unhappy. He was repressing so much emotion, and might have written in such a tight style because he was tied up in knots internally. I think his writing style was powerful and effective, yet it has often left me wondering, at what expense did he create the myth about himself which might have fed into his writing style. It’s just too much of a cost; if one has to live like a crazy person to be a writer, is it really worth it? Posterity would say yes, but posterity is perfectly willing to throw each of us under the bus as long as the world is given great literature.

  7. The idea of posterity is the allure isn’t it? It’s the worm on the hook. It’s the print we leave behind.

    Most of us, the vast majority, will be forgotten within 25 years of our passing. We will be photos in a box somewhere. If there are boxes left. We will be, I guess, a file on a computer or a flash drive. Our lives reduced to ones and zeros.

    I enjoy traveling and I enjoy seeing the work of the great artists. The Uffizi. The L’Ouvre. I see these works by Leonardo and Botticelli. I am reminded that I will never make anything this beautiful or lasting. Nothing. I am actually ok with this. It bothered me for a while.

    Then it stopped. It doesn’t bother me any more. I can’t say that it has crept into my mind in a very long time.

    Thinking of Papa brings me full circle. His end. Poetic. Or just lazy. Or even mental illness. It is bothersome and it is fact. It just is.

    I cannot imagine what one thinks about at that moment or the moments before. But, it isn’t worth it. Not to me.

    I thank you for your words. I thank you for your words and your thoughts.

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