Mommy and the Dada Wilderness

Somehow, I’m only now reading Hotchner’s memoir/Hemingway biography. Take a look at this:

“But you know, Papa, despite poor Jake and his tragic fate, I never really felt anything ‘lost’ about that group. Maybe it’s just a reflection of my debauched state, but by the end of the book I felt a certain survival strength in those people, not at all the utter hopelessness of a ‘lost generation.’”

 “That was Gertrude Stein’s pronouncement, not mine!” he snapped. “Gertrude repeating what some garage keeper in the Midi had told her about his apprentice mechanics: une génération perdue. Well, Gertrude … a pronouncement was a pronouncement was a pronouncement. I only used it in the front of Sun Also Rises so I could counter it with what I thought. That passage from Ecclesiastes, that sound lost? ‘One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever …’ Solid endorsement for Mother Earth, right? ‘The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose …’ Solid endorsement for sun. Also endorses wind. Then the rivers—playing it safe across the board: ‘All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.’ Never could say thither. Look, Gertrude was a complainer. So she labeled that generation with her complaint. But it was bullshit. There was no movement, no tight band of pot-smoking nihilists wandering around looking for Mommy to lead them out of the dada wilderness. What there was, was a lot of people around the same age who had been through the war and now were writing or composing or whatever, and other people who had not been through the war and either wished they had been or wished they were writing or boasted about not being in the war. Nobody I knew at that time thought of himself as wearing the silks of the Lost Generation, or had even heard the label. We were a pretty solid mob. The characters in Sun Also Rises were tragic, but the real hero was the earth and you get the sense of its triumph in abiding forever.”

“There was no movement, no tight band of pot-smoking nihilists wandering around looking for Mommy to lead them out of the dada wilderness.” Damn, bro.

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