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The Ernest Hemmingway of Things
Kevin Wu

As if he didn’t know, again and again, how powerful it was, and how fast, “I am lost,” he whispers, but no one would hear him.  The ten thousand notes that were sung emerged again, one after another they were repeated, on and on, no one would hear them, this time, either.  “There is nothing left, if not my world,” a man writes, in his notebook, he turns to three pages earlier and there is a picture of a whale, swimming in a sea.  The waves he makes, the man thinks to himself, is strong enough to measure to any small sea.  The seas, the seas, have weather in them, like any single variable magical ocean, but are they dry, also, without anyone’s tears.  I was crying to the landscape of little to no music, but the wind gets me there, every time.  I was lost without a hint of the ulterior truth of things, while the bird with its wings is silent. 

The Ernest Hemmingway of things.  Is that.  From where.  There comes a road that cries out hunger! hunger!  And trees that have no relief.  And fields of remoteness.  So remote that, that, it was impossible, impossible, to see, the distinct lights above us.  Or the various fields about us.  The Ernest Hemmingway of rivers.  Streams that flow unstoppered on.  Were we the waybearers.  Then we would have known him at all.  We would have known him.  The bearings.  The cry.         

In the undiscoverable forest there are names, pertaining to certain Ernest Hemmingways of things, of animals, of insects, irretrievable streams and brooks, a flower that says something, the colors of his petals are sublime.   I thought to imagine a giant who lives there, chanting for a while out of his larger mind, saying the things that are tall and powerful, knowing nothing of beauty, or design.  He could have been illustrious, in the city, as the only giant of his kind, propounding the theocracy of giants, dark and powerful, sublime and profuse.  In his profusion he could have been known the intricate words, of books upon books upon books, of sophistry, a giant amongst his particularity, dispensing the vast condition of his history.  But we don't do that, in this unlearned forest, only the birds are to be learned, mastered, how they fly, or eat, their various calls to each other, or their existential solitude.  Only the frogs are to cry out, anything, close to resembling the oratory of words, their throats expanding and diminishing.  We don't know in this forest how the conversation goes, what are the adjectives, the vital sounds, the silences.  All we know is a kind of desire, invisible, growing, operating beyond the boundaries of even the forest itself, restless, and powerful.  What tumultuousness is there in life, we think, that we find in this forest, the Ernest Hemmingway is a road that goes through the forest and that reaches upon a hill, where one may think of the entirety of individual trees, and the rain.  Nothing remarkable is found there, except some freedom, some embers of thought, a fire, occasionally, and the constant circulation of the earth, what the animals and insects go by, while there is no relief.  From the Ernest Hemmingway of things, that demands, that demands, a discipline so strong, a heart so immovable, there comes a person, like the usual, the everyman, doing his everything.  There is nothing so vital as a man at his work, in the long run, his heaving and falling, down through the commonality of humanity, an effort, a work.  He can be found, in an Ernest Hemmingway, to be lacking in something (strength), though his shoulders are broad, though his voice is powerful.  His voice, when cast out upon the crowd, of his friends and others, do seem to lack force, and meaning, the way a conflicted everyman is.  In his way, he is like the defeated, in all of history, but the Ernest Hemmingway of things brings him back, to a city, to a tower.  Where he may look out, at the garden beneath, and feel revitalized, all having been forgotten. 

The loneliness of existence is ineffable, for uncountable hours, he broke the laws of love, how many seas called to him, how far-reaching his vision, how did he follow the road.  He did not take upon himself all the burden of the world, it was not possible, he thought, to be that courageous, for it was only things with wings that bear so much, so much the rain.  As he remembered the voyages and the journeys, he reached out with his hands toward the ocean, there was there in the center a place for him, unlike the persecution of the earth.  Ever since he can remember he has learned the voice of the waves, its all-encompassing depth, blue and white, all coldness, no order, no sun.  And then there is my silence, over everything, a refusal to know the man that he is, even as he is next to me, even as he speaks to me now.  How is it you who have gotten to be so quiet and sad, with your cello, the melody, the outer sky has not begun to learn to read your language, you are the uncontainable, you want to float away.  While I am the man of nothing, anymore, I have lost any whatever thing of value, and my voice is unheard, even when cast out into the night. 

The Ernest Hemmingway requires that one is true while lost, strong while mortal, the walker is endlessly always aspiring to artifacts of the imagination, while he walks, while he is alone.  He knows that there is nothing listless with the steps that one takes, again and again, and tomorrow is always a day for Hemmingways, tomorrow is never so far away.  And I, I think of the past, of the nameless history of faceless trekkers, those who came after the idea of the Way, those who traveled on it toward Something, a supreme object that will be worth all their efforts, a means to a reward.  For the Way is not always metaphor, not always in the wild, it can be a truthful and comprehensible path beneath one's feet, with stone and letters and overtures.  What overtures, what art, decorated with the leaves of the day, water, coolness, silences.  And the Way may say something, finally, with the arrangement of all its landscape, something of mystery, of fortitude.  To a distance, to such a distance, that'll forget the mountains, the sea.  So far out, so far out, that there is not a single bird, not a single tree, there.  So far out, so far, that there is no distinction between land and sky, grass and sand.  The end of the Way, where the traveler was just standing there, refusing everything without a thought in his head.  While the dying above him went on, and he had no idea.  What thing it was.  That made it go. 

What ignorance.  What innocence.  The walker, so still, vastly taking in everything again, the mirage of small things so breathable, has in himself a number of resources the culmination of which is an escape, so close to death, does he think anyone cares about him out there, does he care about himself, it is a place where only things of scarcity live, he was not meant to be so close to it.  But could he feel the purity of everything, unlike the sea, unlike the waves, he has reached a place of desolate existence, with light and dust and air, and not much more.  If he could chant the rhymes of his childhood, and the melody of the many seas, he would still be someone, but if he is just listening, if he counts this only amongst his many distant places, then things could be tenuous.  A man amidst nothing, amidst the rock of nothing, with the blue of the sky, finally at the end of everything.  A funeral, perhaps.  Choral.  He is no longer waiting.

He is in my imagination.  He is in my memory.  No longer the careless pair of hands, the man gestures to something panoramic, the whole horizon of whiteness, or what is the condition of his moment, his time, his heart.  What is the condition of a place and an earth so white and bare, does one know society here.  Or nation.  Or city.  Or codes and processes.  Is it a place without all of that, without things in general.  Is that what the Ernest Hemmingway has brought.

A great austerity, a great, sad, poetry.

But we do not dwell at the end of the Way for long, we, in our perspicacity, knowing that nothingness does not fill the darkness that is in us, we come back to the forest of which there are breathing animals and beings, humans that we are comfortable with, we come back as travelers from a place devoid of any meaning, where civilization hasn't entered.  The Ernest Hemmingway, even the Ernest Hemmingway does not lead to anything rewarding, like anything else in life, its particulars are inexplicable, we are walkers only in so much as we know, searchingly.  The judge may judge our hearts and ambitions, but nothing is given for the culmination, the sacrifice.  Did we follow, the questioner asks, did we follow the road with our only heart, was it true, did we breathe in the scent of the flowers, was it what the journey deserved, our one dream in the mind... The walker's one true purpose, with the march toward the horizon, took him almost forever to get there, when he came back I learned something so important it'll break a mountain.  That I was a man out of all ways, out of all sorts of ways, before, and now I have the Ernest Hemmingway, it alone, responsible for my growing-up, my adulthood, for who I am. And then I remember, at that moment, the man at the beginning who was sketching pictures of seas and whales, carelessly making them come alive, for his effort I find that all is not lost, in the world, that when someone wants still to describe something for himself, of drawing whales and seas, and that someone else wants to walk a simple road, that the world might still be a livable place.  So I will talk to him, next time, when he tries to talk to me, and there will be a distinctive openness this time from me to him, and after all, I, the philosopher, and he, the artist describing the sea, how prepared are we to be who we want to be, while the late sun cast its rays around cities and highrises, how we don't understand those things anymore.  For I am losing my knowledge because of my age.  While he looks at the people around him, and his looks don't say anything, and his heart doesn't desire anymore.  All that we have figured out is that this is the small place we will live in for the rest of our lives.  And we find our rest, here.  And the walls, of sympathy, fall, one by one, until there is nothing left but the endless beach, with its irreplaceable sand, on the other side...     

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