W. Kandinsky: "There are no 'musts' in art." T.S. Eliot: "There is no freedom in art." Dostoievski character, after the ancient Middle East epigram: "Everything is permitted."
(R-rated weblog. Since one has been advised there is no Literature anymore, or even literature, only writing, one proceeds on the premise that this weblog qualifies as not-meaningless, since it is, or appears to be, a form of "writing." Image: Banksy.)
I saw the best minds of my generation . . . .
The "best"? Seriously? So who are we talking about here? Can it be the case we are talking about a surly crowd of shiftless low-life psychos, drunks, random drug addicts, grifters, graphomaniacs, sex addicts, and burglars, like Herbert Huncke, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Neal Cassady, Kerouac, Burroughs, and any number of nameless human rats living in or near Times Square? Perhaps it can. Though Ginsberg's accomplishments and travels cannot be sneezed at. The man kept his shoulder to the wheel. And who hasn't exaggerated at one time or another?
The most pathetic novel I've ever read, pathos pouring out of every pore, the two main characters weeping alone or together, profusely and in a deep agony (resulting from their mutual absence of social skills and anything remotely resembling decent mental health) so many times one loses track, creating a wave of hilarity that one can't help surfing right to the end of this skinny work that one bought as a hardcover remainder, having been born to buy remainders, Hemingway couldn't have stood more than two or three pages of this profoundly unrealistic, unintentionally comic pity-party, though it is not without some characteristically striking, despairing yet oddly sustaining, Duras lines:
"I wanted to die with you. I thought, Let me put my body close to him and wait for death."; "You're my lover because of what you just said--that you don't want anything."; "Knowing, with you, is knowing nothing at all."; "He extracts his pleasure from himself. At his request she watches him."; "He gets extreme pleasure from her desire for another man."; "The kiss has brought their bodies closer together than nakedness."; "The kiss of their lips has spread through all of his body. It's held inside him completely, like an untold secret, a happiness that must be given up out of fear, fear that it might have a future."; "He'll turn over, cover her body with his . . . and slowly sink into the hot slime of the center." Lusty hyenas, mon amour.
An ardent believer in the institution of marriage--Hadley, Pauline, Martha, Mary--with a noticeable taste for the grape and the grain--"He had begun with absinthe, continued at dinner with a bottle of good red wine, shifted to vodka before the jai alai games, and then settled down to whiskey and soda for the rest of the evening," Ernest Hemingway is a role model for writers fiercely uninterested in the "evolution" of contemporary literary theory, one who in his early career was distinctly apolitical, believing the only way a novelist could "do good" was "to show things as they really were," (the narrator of his autobiographical novel True at First Light referring to novelists as "congenital liars"), this attitude changing after his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, his love of hunting and fishing--over one period of a hundred days he hooked and killed over fifty marlin in the waters off Cuba--justified, in a passage in TaFL one can't find at the moment, by the logic that compared to the nightly killing among the animals themselves, his victims constituted a tiny fraction, and there was no denying they would all die anyway at some point, death by gunshot causing less suffering than a slow death resulting from disease or a lethal attack from another animal. Reportedly drinking three scotches before dinner as a matter of routine, he relied on sleeping pills to turn off his interior light at night, not the first writer to fall into this trap. And he didn't believe in living as a fountain pen. During World War II, he was away from his writing desk for four years.