Hemingway on the movie “Papa”

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

[On Tuesday my brother Paul and I went to Richmond to visit the Virginia Museum of
Fine Arts and to see the movie “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba,” which was playing there although not here in Charlottesville.]

F: 8:30 a.m. So, Papa, we saw “Papa.” Not a first-run movie for you, I imagine.

EH: No, but a first-run movie for us, as for everyone who sees it with me.

F: I hadn’t factored that in. Pray proceed.

EH: No need for me to do it. You were told long ago, and can get Rita or someone else to discuss the concept with. That kind of thing still isn’t my preferred mode of interaction.

F: Theory, you mean.

EH: Generalization about abstractions, let’s say. I generalized all the time, and not always about things I knew well enough to generalize about. I dealt with abstractions too, although I was wary of them. But the two together were a little far from the heart of where I lived.

F: You preferred a mixture of concrete and distinct, or intuitive and sensory.

EH: Even that is more abstraction and generalization than I prefer to entertain.

F: So let’s talk about the movie itself. I was fully prepared to be seething but fortunately that isn’t how I reacted. I liked it. I thought it was done with good heart and good intent and sure knowledge. I imagine your friend Denne [Peticlerc] is pleased?


So what is the pause about? Is it that I am hesitating, wondering if I am about to lead myself astray making something up?

EH: Maybe it’s just the situation. You have other things to do, and it keeps you from having your mind totally on this form of communication. There will be other times.

F: Okay. Anything you would like to say?

EH: Just note the various manifestations of psychometry you are hearing about or practicing, and think about the subject in writing.

F: The actor and the typewriter.

EH: It isn’t something you made up, clearly.

F: True enough. I’ll find the paragraph in the news story and add it to this entry when I type it in.

EH: A movie can be a very powerful if diffuse means of something very like psychometry.

F: I remember the thing I was told about everyone who reads a book is directly connected to the author and to everyone else who reads it.

EH: That’s right, only don’t think of any them – least of all the author – as statues, unchanging and fixed in a moment of time. They are not being photographed by you, they are interrelating with you. Now go have breakfast and start your day.

F: Later, then. Thanks, Papa.

[from http://www.biography.com/news/papa-hemingway-in-cuba-movie-review]

Filming on-location had a profound effect on Sparks’s performance. “I remember Adrian standing in exactly the spot in the bedroom that Hemingway used to stand while he was writing,” the director says, adding that the museum let Sparks use Hemingway’s typewriter. “He came to me later and said: ‘That is when I stopped acting and starting channeling Hemingway.’”

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