Sterling Cooper’s Heroes: Ernest Hemingway


Here’s a classic riddle for you. If a tree falls in the forest, do any frat guys give a shit? The typical answer would be: I’ve already spent too much time listening to some idiot talk about trees. But there is a corollary. Yes, a fraternity man should care if a tree falls in the forest if that tree goes on to make paper used to print an Ernest Hemingway novel. Why? I’ll tell you why…because that’s my job.

“They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.”

Hemingway was your standard issue four-sport high school student. Back in those days, boxing was a high school sport, which has sadly been lost due to the increased influence of PTAs and video games…and fat ass kids. He probably could have gone to any number of great schools after graduating (and would have pledged for sure, right?), but instead decided to go straight into journalism, which lasted a grand total of one year before he volunteered to serve in World War One. He was an ambulance driver, which ordinarily wouldn’t sound all that impressive, except he was seriously wounded while delivering cigarettes to the men at the front line and still managed to carry an Italian officer back to safety. He earned a medal of bravery from the Italian government for this act (which I’m pretty sure is just a big bottle of wine with a ribbon on it). So next time one of your brothers complains about having to stop on the way to the bar to get cigarettes, tell him “if it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for you to shut the fuck up.”

“You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch.” (Is there any better quote for pledging?)

Hemingway was known as a member of the “Lost Generation” of writers, who contributed some pretty cool stuff to the world. He used to booze heavy with James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who both admitted that there were many nights that they couldn’t keep up with Hemingway. This is especially awesome because Joyce was Irish and Fitzgerald fucking died from drinking. Lots of famous people have certain drinks that are associated with him. Hemingway really doesn’t. Why? Because he’s associated with all the booze. Seriously, start typing, “what did Hemingway…” into Google, and the first response is “what did Hemingway drink.” Which is cool in and of itself, but that makes “what did Hemingway write” number two. So yes, he’s known more for his drinking than his writing, and since he’s considered one of the greatest American writers of all time, what do you think that says about his drinking?

“A man does not exist until he is drunk.”

“I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?… The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting.”

One thing that separated Hemingway from his fellow writers however, was that instead of sitting around in cafes all day whining about whatever those café sort of people whine about, he was also sort of an outdoorsman. Actually he was sort of an outdoorsman in the same way that Muhammad Ali was sort of good with his hands. He faced down a charging water buffalo during a hunt and always returned to fish whenever he was troubled. And he also wrote the best book about fishing since the fucking Bible.

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”

“To me a heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on 9 different floors.”

I could make this column exceedingly long very easily. I’m leaving out his WWII service, his altering of his fishing boat to attack German submarines, his various outdoor adventures, and the fact that he led a band of resistance fighters in the liberation of Paris even though he was only supposed to be a fucking magazine correspondent. Hell, I could have just made an entire column using only Hemingway quotes (and it probably would have been way better). Do yourself a favor. Read up on some of his adventures. And more importantly, read some of his work. Or all of it. And grow a badass beard. In fact, just try to be Ernest Hemingway. If you can’t, it’s ok. Neither can anyone else.

    1. ShinerCopenhagenBBQ

      He killed himself because 2 plane crashes, shrapnel, numerous firefights, and a few bulls could not.

      13 years ago at 8:17 pm
    2. MonbroMarshSweetland

      You’re definitely right. Suicide. NF. However, jokes about suicide. TFTC.

      13 years ago at 1:57 am
  1. pocket ts and 993s

    Next to my Dad and Grandad, Hemingway is my biggest hero. Simple as that.

    13 years ago at 9:31 am
  2. PhiGammaDelta1916

    This is by far Sterling’s greatest column yet. Hemingway is a legend for so many reasons and should be looked up to by every man of true character.

    13 years ago at 9:32 am
  3. AllNatural

    “When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.”

    Mr. Hemingway was truly FaF, and should certainly be seen as a role model for any fraternal man

    13 years ago at 9:49 am
  4. Manchild

    He’s my literary hero. As a fellow journalist, this has always stuck with me: “Writing will broaden your ass if not your mind, and I prefer to write standing up.” The man was a genius.

    13 years ago at 9:57 am
  5. JoeBro2

    yeah a guy who drank to the point where he was so fucked up that he eventually killed himself is really a great role model…

    13 years ago at 10:07 am
    1. Bronan the Barbarian

      To be fair, his familial issues were a big part of his problems that lead him to suicide. He had depression that ran in the family. His father had it. As a writer, person and general man of exellence, he’s really goddamn awesome.

      13 years ago at 10:15 am
    2. pocket ts and 993s

      Yeah, he had a chemical imbalance and this was long before they had stable treatments and medications for depression. His whole family had the issue: 5 of the Hemingways commited suicide and all were believed to have the same imbalance. You can’t discredit the man because of a problem he couldnt control at the time.

      13 years ago at 11:00 am
    1. Manchild

      Tough one. I’d give Hemingway the overall edge for his entire body of work — novels and short stories — but I do have to say I’ve enjoyed far more of Faulkner’s short stories than Hemingway’s. Novels, though, go to Hemingway hands down.

      13 years ago at 12:24 pm
    2. lillynlabs

      Hemingway’s work is far and away more accessible than Faulkner’s. However, the Faulknerian stream of consciousness narrative definitely left its mark on the more educated literary society. Although it’s possible to appreciate Faulkner without a strong background in academia I think in the end Hemingway has probably impacted more people. In the end I think they both achieved things no other writer has or will be able to, especially stylistically, but at the end of the day I’d probably want to kick back with a copy of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” before delving into “Absalom, Absalom!”

      13 years ago at 9:46 pm
  6. PerfectPanda

    “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools”.

    13 years ago at 10:25 am