Conversations with Hemingway (2)

Friday, April 30, 2010

All right, Papa, you came home from the war and what happened externally is a record. What happened on the inside, and how conscious were you all that at the time? And — if you don’t want to talk about this but about something else instead, we can do that.

As soon as you can get yourself focused, and all of that other stuff out of your mind.

Yes. I am having a little trouble. Hang on a second –. Okay, I’m more here now.

Getting off the gangplank in New York worked well. A nice piece of theater, but it was sort of necessary, too. I didn’t want to be crowded in any sense of the word. Not physically, not in terms of attention. But I was 18, 19 — I didn’t realize that what I was doing was going to have consequences that couldn’t be blotted out later when they would be embarrassing. Besides, maybe I didn’t care that much. It was important that I not go back to be that school kid. And the war was over; no more chances for glory, and what I had was going to have to do. So if I glamorized things, and made myself out to be more than I had done — notice that, to be more than I had done — it seemed worthwhile, necessary.

I hadn’t been in the Army — but I would have been, if they’d taken me. I was wounded, legitimately, and for being where I hadn’t needed to be. Shouldn’t I use those wounds, since I’d gotten them?

People write that yours were wounded heroes, and they psychologize you extensively, as you know.

Yes, but they don’t see things whole. A lot of them never wanted to see me whole, because they were seeing me at all, but just a

Boy it’s hard to hold focus. I should have done this first, before e-mail etc. sent things through my mind. Clearing again –. Okay.

They took me to be a cardboard recruiting poster for things they hated, like war, and the military, or hunting and fishing. Boxing. Anything too physical for them. So — if they’re using you as a punching bag, you can’t expect that they’re going to play fair. Understanding me is the last thing they wanted — they wanted to destroy me.

I can see that among some of the critics in your day. But others really did try to understand, I think.

The point is, what I stood for, what I loved to do, wasn’t popular. Wasn’t in style.

Man it’s hard this morning. I sort of feel like I should apologize. But let’s keep trying, unless another time would be better. In fact, perhaps it would.

No use fighting; wait for a better time.

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