Many of those writing in the manosphere can appreciate the influence of Hemingway on their lives. If any guy aspired to write when younger, he most likely looked to Hemingway as some sort of model. I remember my own discovery of “Papa” as an ignorant teenager, when I read one of his stories for the first time. The moment is seared in my memory, as I read words that were written in way that I had never read before, that had a cadence and quality that was completely different from anything I had ever come across. His stories about adventure, manliness, the worlds of tough men and difficult women, are particularly appealing to the young man. His prose became the essence of a tough, straight forward, and immaculate style of writing. He forever changed the style of English prose.
His life seemed to mirror his stories. The photos of Hemingway hunting in Africa, fishing out the great American west or in the Caribbean, working as a war correspondent, etc., presented an image of a man whose life mirrored his writings. To this day it seems to be the glamorous incarnation of the modern man of action who is also a man of letters. No one has been able to emulate him since his death, whether in writing or action.
He died in 1961, at age 61. He committed suicide, blowing his head off with a shotgun. He had had many psychological ailments later in his life, but clearly depression had been one of them, and most likely something he had suffered through for most of his life. His father also had committed suicide, and there is a clear genetic link in families with mental illnesses.
Perhaps if things had been different back then in the medical world of mental health, nearly fifty years ago now, he may not have taken his own life. Whatever cause of his suicide, whether through depression or a mixture of different psychological ailments, his death deprived the world of potentially more great writing. This is the great tragedy of depression and its ultimate manifestation, suicide. Not only does it rob the world of a life, it robs the world of whatever that person may have contributed to that world, which in Hemingway’s case was more writing. The man seemingly had it all; yet mental health problems destroyed his life in the end. Even if the terrible last stage of suicide is never met, depression if left unchecked can sap a person of their strength, and create a life that is anything but fulfilling. Often it can lead to much chaos.
However, despite the difficulties of this condition, there is hope. For me, hope manifests itself first through God and especially through prayer. In this I find great relief from my own psychic pains. And then God puts others in the world to help us through these things, whether through family, friends or professionals. There are resources, if we chose to seek them out, and we are not without hope. As one priest once told me, even in our greatest moments of darkness, remember, God is still there with us. And for those who don’t believe in God, there are others out there who can help us with this too. It also helps, I suppose, to know the many men and women who have dealt with this and other mental health conditions, both in our time and in the past. It is actually an impressive list of famous and accomplished people.
I also find writing about these things to be cathartic; I am not sure why, but it is something I need to explore more fully.
What if his depression/psychoses were what led him to be a great writer in the first place? I think those who write are generally of a similar breed: introverted, above average intelligence, etc. which all leads to things like depression.
Racer X said:
Good point. There probably was a connection between depression, psychosis and his writing, but it is hard to know where to draw the line between what is productive and what is destructive. What may have served him well in his earlier years, and may not have been that severe, later on became debilitating to the point where he no longer produced great writing.
I tend to think of the link between depression and artistic creativity as a more heightened sensitivity to the world around you. Artists tend not to create good works under the spell of depression. Many are manic-depressive, and create their works under the manic state. Byron is a good example of that.
I wonder how much booze contributed to his eventual suicide. Hemingway was legendary for his ability to drink. A man tormented by demons can only ameliorate those demons with a different demon for a finite period of time. Then the ameliorating demons, firmly ensconced and able to sustain more energy than when they were first summoned, unleash their own brands of madness.
Racer X said:
Yes, I think his drinking contributed quite a bit to his eventual demise. Alcoholism and depression often go hand in hand, usually with very bad results.