“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start, and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it.”
Ernest Hemingway in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald
Are you Fitzgerald or Hemingway in your approach to the bald reality of the pain that life inevitably visits upon us? Though the two crafters of prose were majestic, the former flaunted his ruined heart for all to see while the latter was as stingy as they come, and yet still aggrandized grief as no other furnished with pen and paper and a smiteful and succinct way with words. The following from “Fitzgerald vs. Hemingway: Stylistic Techniques” by Cloud Buchholz, delightfully captures the dichotomy that Fitzgerald sagely flagged to his deeply torn compositional counterpart:
“In much of Fitzgerald’s work there is a conflict between high society wealth and low-class poor, and if we examine closely the structure of his sentences, we will notice that his choice of words and his use of subordinating clauses and complex sentences give his style a sense of reaching, like many of the characters he creates, for an elevated, and I would argue, ‘high class’ sentiment that is unique to him.
Hemingway, on the other hand, utilizes such a sparse sentence structure of verb and noun, that his works often generate a down to earth attitude that capitalizes on what is not written. And, if we examine closely Hemingway’s use of diction, we will see that he has crafted a vocabulary that an average person uses on a daily basis.”
This past Saturday’s brief sojourn at Highland Park Village, the toniest enclave of high-end shopping in Dallas, Texas, which holds its own with Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive or London’s Bond Street, was akin to a Marie Antoinette-esque slap in the face, albeit with a kid leather glove. The occasion was catalyzed by the crisp autumnal snap that demanded a spontaneous table outside to take in the change in the season. What followed defied the desired respite. It’s likely many of you have witnessed the phenomenon, wherever you reside. Nonetheless, the fact that the Rolex store, which had just opened, had sold out of goods, and still had a line queuing outside it, was revolting. On a beautiful fall day, with the air cool and fall finally in the air for Dallasites convicted to suffer eight months of summer, similar lines of hungry shoppers had lined up outside Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Fendi, Harry Winston, Hermes and Valentino. The air of greed was palpable.
Imagine, for a moment, the amazement, and presumed resentment, of the bus boy at the trendy Bistro 31 – to have to bear witness to such an ostentatious and obnoxious spectacle. But it wasn’t until a subsequent trip to Kroger on Monday evening and my abject refusal to acquiesce to buying Oscar Meyer bacon for $9.99 a pound, that it fully brought home to me the depth of the insult inflicted on the hard-working man or woman who had to sit back and perform their menial duties in the background amidst the nastily conspicuous consumption. Marie Antoinette may as well have been Mother Teresa given the brazenness brandished by the chosen few, abetted by my former employer to live the better life, the rest of the little people be damned.
As Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, “It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”