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Twisting all the bad things into good

Nov 5, 2011

Zeroes and Heroes

"As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary"
- Ernest Hemingway

   Ah, yes. Hemingway. Even though my blog has surpassed the importance of his Nobel Prize winning work, and the fact that this particular entry will mean considerably more than even his greatest short story, there is still a lot to learn from this literary giant. After all, until I started my Nitty Gritty series 4 weeks ago, he was arguably the most important writer in American history. But the times have changed, Papa. Now that I have taken his place, I can now question this giant whose shoulders my Converse now stand upon. To know that in less than a month, my writing is more important than literary legends like Fitzgerald, Poe, Miller, Bukowski, Thoreau, Emerson, Melville, Whitman, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Vonnegut, Mailer, and Salinger. Wow, my sentence ran on so long I just ended it. See, that's what I'm talking about. Important writers can do that. They answer to and write for no one but themselves. The point that I am taking an unbearably long time to get to is that,in regards to this particular quote, Hemingway was wrong. I can't believe I just wrote that. His delivery was perfect, but by being wrong about the need for heroes, he is showing that our heroes can be wrong.
    Using Hemingway's quote and the cocksure bravado of my first paragraph as an example and an excuse to use the word "cocksure", I am pointing out that great writers, whether it be novels or songs, never express themselves in the form of an opinion. They tell you that is how it is and the reader takes it as testament. Hemingway didn't say," I kind of think that the world breaks everyone, but maybe after, some are strong at the broken places, but I could just be drunk". Kerouac did not say,"You know something, Neal Cassady? Even though we've been awake on amphetamines for 4 straight days and I keep calling you Dean Moriarty, I'm thinking that, I don't know, like the road is kind of like life...or something. Well, I'm gonna crash, I'm beat". (There's like 4 hilariously clever On the Road jokes in that fictional quote)  Maybe Jack did say that, but what mattered is what he actually wrote,"The road is life". He left no room for debate, and so over 50 years since it's publication, people like me and my old roommate use this as our rallying cry every time we set forth on any kind of road trip or new adventure. 
    Even though the Bronte sisters were not American writers, I am still going to use a quote from Emily's Wuthering Heights to reinforce a point that I have already made clear, because I love the quote so there's that. (See how I left no room for debate on this matter? Good. Try to keep up because soon I'm not going to tell you when something is funny or when I'm being sarcastic) After Heathcliff left the moors in devastation without any parting words, Catherine finally understood that they were incomplete without each other, maybe the most kindred souls in all of literature. When she came to this heartbreaking realization minutes too late, she did not snap her fingers, point, and say,"Damn, you know what I just figured out? This may sound kind of weird, but that guy named after a cartoon cat, he and I's like we're almost the same person. We're that close". Instead, Emily wrote the most beautifully haunting 3 word sentence I have ever read, "I am Heathcliff". This simple statement may mean nothing out of context, but since the first time I heard it, and in every one of the nearly half dozen film versions, it hits me like a punch to the gut.
      Once again, every time I start to write, I get lost on the way to my intended point. But to be honest, that is what I enjoy most about writing, knowing that all I have to do is start, and by the time I am done, I will know something about myself that I did not know before. That is why it is the only activity that I hold sacred. That is why I have lost any interest in writing fiction. That is why I can be at home on a Friday night and know that there is nowhere else I would rather be. That is why I don't feel any kind of lack from not having a woman that I love in my life. That is why I have not turned my television on in over 3 weeks. My whole reason for being was once based on these things that I thought of as necessity, now my life can only be enhanced by them without being ruled by them.
 This almost leads me to the whole reason I started writing this in the first place. I was so irritated when I decided to turn on my TV today to make sure it even still works that I was going to write a FaceBook status, but it would have been too long so I figured I'd write a 1 paragraph blog entry instead. Basically it was regarding the mayhem and fervor outside of the Michael Jackson Trial and chatting online. People are screaming at and almost coming to blows with strangers over their "hero" that they would not have been able to stand within 100 yards of without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket. This was going to be an attempt at a funny entry that consisted of hilarious insights like "No matter how much Headline News has tried to up their ratings by turning this current trial into another Casey Anthony, there is no way that Michael Jackson could ever be as big as Casey Anthony". I was going to mention how many people MJ touched, and how most of them were under 10 years old. I probably would have written something about how he was the King of Pop, "Pop" standing for "Pedophiles Or Pederasts". Even though I have been known to find humor in things as gloomy as funerals, addiction, and depression, this kind of vicarious existence is not as funny as I thought it was when I started writing this. It's sad. 
   This is the reason why I no longer really get affected by professional sports, something I have loved pretty much my entire life. This is the other reason for the use of the Hemingway quote about having heroes.The Phillies lose, the Eagles win, how does this affect me? How can this lend any meaning to my life? I would rather my favorite team win, but I no longer have my day ruined or my mood affected by the win or loss of a group of  multimillionaire strangers whose day would not be affected by my death. What can I take from a victory that I had no part in, a victory that would have happened whether I was dead or alive? A few months ago I could have resigned myself to a life of coming home from a job I had no passion for, have dinner, watch other men live out their dreams during the ballgame, and then live out my own dreams only after I fell  asleep. I was convinced that the only meaning or pleasure I could experience was through another person's victory, or the music written and performed by someone else, or in some movie that was created by a writer and director and actors who were all living out their dreams while I paid $10 to watch with the hope of finding something that applied to my own life. 
   I became conscious of the fact that I was not seeking, and as a result, not finding any pleasure or meaning in my own existence. Before I even read William Blake's quote, I recognized that I had already taken his advice to "Invent your own mythology or be slave to another man’s". I did not even realize that I had started to do this until my therapist brought it to my attention. I love to use other people's quotes when I feel they express what I am feeling better than I could, and one day he told me that he noticed in our last session that I was beginning to reference my own quotes from things I had written. For the very fist time since I had begun to read and memorize song lyrics and movie lines, I was using my own words to describe my own experience. That's why I can say, without a wink of my eye, that although I may never be the greatest, I am already not only the most important writer who has ever lived, but the only one who ever even mattered, the only writer who ever lived who cared enough to write about my family, and my friends, and my experience. That is why my writing is more important than even Hemingway's. Not to anyone besides me, but that does not matter. By default, I am the hero of my story, my life, my personal myth. Obviously, I am not using hero in a literary sense, because I am the furthest thing from such a person. I'm more like a main character that I continually learn more about in those hours that come between  the first and last words written on that particular day.  
   Maybe you don't write. Maybe you are a salesman, a construction worker, or a stay at home mom. It does not matter. You are the most important person to ever do what it is that you do. You are the hero of your own myth. I hope you know that.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I totally agree and feel like you in many ways. Maybe it's because we are both Scorpios lol or maybe because I just understand what you mean. Over the last 10 years, I lost my passion/meaning for life. I'm trying to get it back also through creative things, I once loved to do! Keep up the good work! I'm proud of you friend! Love, Les