Monday, February 10, 2014

The Best Lines Hemingway Ever Wrote

For anyone dealing with extended bouts of grief, free-floating anxiety, trauma, stress, PTSD,  etc. aggravated by feelings of aimlessness, despondency, and ongoing lack of focus, Ernest Hemingway has a story that gets at the root of the problem. "In Another Country" is literally a tale of the "walking wounded," a group of recuperating soldiers, to be exact, being "put through the system" as it were, surrounded by dubious medical equipment, so-called healing regimens and smooth-talking doctors. This is a story guaranteed to help a person in the throes of mental anguish not to feel entirely lost or alone or abnormal. (If you have to ask what that means exactly to feel that way, then relax: the abyss has not come knocking for you - yet.) The line that resonates with me at least is one that that captures like no other the gist of the real pain that many of us are feeling nowadays - though we may not feel justified admitting to such feelings. (Each person's plight is somewhat incommensurable and immeasurable - and to be fair, I would not place my own situation on a part with anyone dealing with PTSD.) Whatever our predicaments, there is something deep within that makes us resist a soul-destroying situation, that sense of affliction or malheur as Simone Weil calls it, of descending (with our accumulated private pain) into a state of mere anonymity, the anonymity of a lifeless, forgotten "thing"; such a condition as would make any normal person want to scream, rant, rave, come undone or else find some outlet for a palpable form of rebellion against the status quo. I don't have a name for such an impulse, but it's here in the following passage:

"He stood there, biting his lower lip. `It is very difficult,' he said. `I cannot resign myself.' He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began to cry. 'I am utterly unable to resign myself,' he said and choked. And then crying, his head up looking at nothing, carrying himself straight and soldierly, with tears on both his cheeks and biting his lips, he walked past the machines and out the door." - from "In Another Country" by Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Four Sherlock Holmes Novellas

A Study in Scarlet

The Sign of Four

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Valley of Fear