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Monday, April 5, 2021


 I was watching the Hemingway doc on PBS. He says: "I wanted to write about the simplest thing, violent death, so I went to Spain, to watch bullfights." Like having a seat at the war, without the danger.  "He fell in love with Spain." 


Leslie B. said...

I am sure he is interesting but he seems so intolerable.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Intolerably interesting? This morbid interest in death.

Hemingway actually made the war comparison himself: "The only place you could see see life and death, i.e., violent death now that the wars were over, was in the bull ring..."

He went to Pamplona in 1923 and returned to Spain as a journalist during the civil war.

I latched on to that sentence in a series of posts I wrote a few years ago about Hemingway and Ramana Maharshi of all people, who achieved his enlightenment suddenly by facing an intense fear of death though he was in no danger. In one post, I wrote:

You find a similar attitude about the importance of death in Lorca and Heidegger. "Death is Dasein's ownmost possibility," Heidegger explains (H. 263). "The Duende," says Lorca, "will not approach at all if he does not see the possibility of death."

And then I added a footnote:

Perhaps in the twenties and thirties this seemed obvious. No serious writer, poet or philosopher, could deny the centrality of death. But why should this be so obvious? Arendt might have been onto something when she pushed back against Heidegger's insistence on our "ownmost" mortality with the simple observation that we were, just as certainly, once born too. Why should our future death be the basic fact of our existence? Why are we not, "proximally and for the most part", alive, not dying, having begun in birth, not heading towards our end in death?

Jonathan said...

Four of his family members (family of origin) committed suicide, as did Ernest himself.

Jonathan said...

I think four included Hem himself. His father, a brother, a sister, and himself.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes, that has to be taken into account. Orson Wells talked about the suicide. When I found it, I had to add a footnote to my take on Mailer's take on it. Wells says both that Hemingway obsessed about in life and that at the time of his death "He was a sick man ... He was was not well mentally ... In other words, the Hemingway we are talking about did not choose his death."

Thomas Basbøll said...

*obsessed about suicide