Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hemingway is God

I am reading the Hemingway collection that my friend, and fellow x-ray tech John Welsh sent me. During spring and fall migration I don't read any fiction, because I am too busy (a) reading bird books or (b) birding. Right now is the summer lull, when I can relax, rent some movies, read some fiction etc.

True story: in the 80s at Lincoln High School in Miss Lew's English class she complained that my sentences were too short. They weren't grammatically incorrect--they were too short.

I said, "But Hemingway writes short sentences."

She squinted, and bellowed, "I HAAATE HEMINGWAY!"

So, from then on she gave me Bs based on her hatred of Hemingway.

There is an article in today's L.A. Times about Hemingway that touches upon today's internet age wimpy boys who wile the hours away on FaceBook and Twitter.  I felt some frustration with the younger guys at USC.  Maybe it's because they work in academia.  Guys younger than me who work at the hospital don't act the same way as the USC wimpy boys.

I do have a hypothesis, though, about today's wimpy boys: the world is a helluva lot more crowded than it was in Hemingway's heyday, and the big animals worth shooting are extinct, or damn close to it.  We're crowded together, and such a high population density and its concurring competition for resources forces one of two coping mechanisms: either you have to be violently aggressive, or really good at cooperating with others.  In today's world "cooperating" includes texting, Twitter, blah blah blah...
Modern society can't function if we're running around getting into barroom brawls, so we ritualize violence with basketball and football games, or go mountain biking and do other "manly" things.

John thinks that birding is unmanly, but he doesn't know about me hiking alone in Santa Anita Canyon at 10:00 p.m., the sheath of my oversized buck knife unbuckled, my hand on its hilt, because I am alone in a stretch of forest known to have mountain lions.

It's hard to explain, but I have a need for "Authentic Experiences".  Besides the paycheck, this is why I work in the ER.  I'm a weird kind of adrenaline junkie: I have no desire to ride roller coasters or go bungee jumping, but get something from being the x-ray tech when some guy gets shot or stabbed.  It's not the blood or gore; it's the intensity of the moment, of the need to act RIGHT NOW, before it's too late.  That's when I feel most alive.

1 comment:

Big John said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the Hemingway piece.

I have no opinion on bird watching either way, but it does take away from time best used to read.

As for the ER: its the best place to work in a hospital. Sometimes you get a patient who really needs an x-ray. In the main department most patients are wasting everyone's time.