Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sailing for somewhere, sometime, somehow

From my point of view, there is a lack of realism to the world that is (rather, the world that was) in this depiction of French King Louis IX departing for the Seventh Crusade in 1248 from Aigues-Mortes / Le Grau de Roi in the south of France. There is a quaintness to it, a fantasy-like quality to it, a view of medieval times absent the poverty, the disease, the cruelty –- much less the horrendous butchery and destruction wreaked in hand-to-hand combat with swords and axes. No, the representation here has more the appearance of a wealthy family setting off on a Sunday afternoon cruise on the blue Mediterranean Sea under a sunny sky. The work, incidentally, is among those in a Fourteenth Century manuscript by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus entitled, "Vie et Miracles de Saint Louis." Louis was captured and ransomed on this venture. Undeterred, he went on to lead the Eighth Crusade in 1270, during which disease did him in, as it did much of his army. Louis should have stayed at home. Moving to (not with) the music, "Greensleeves" came along a bit after the crusades but before Ernest Hemingway, so it seems to even out and to be appropriate without too much stretch of the imagination. Read on, if you are curious.

I wish I could paint
I do not know if this is what Ernest Hemingway had in mind when he wrote the following words in a 1953 letter to art historian Bernard Berenson:
"Christ I wish I could paint. I was painting that town (Aigues Mortes) in my head with the crusaders off loading their baggage and their piss-pots to leave from Le Grau de Roi. I remember that Crusade so well that I always have to be careful not to say I made it. But I didn't make it ...."
While Hemingway did not make it, he probably had seen reproductions of this painting of Louis IX departing from Aigues-Mortes / Le Grau de Roi in the south of France for the Seventh Crusade. The representation here is among those in a Fourteenth Century manuscript by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus entitled, "Vie et Miracles de Saint Louis."
What collared my attention were Hemingway's remarks about "painting that town in my head" and "I remember that Crusade so well that I always have to be careful not to say I made it." If I would have been among Hemingway's biographers, I would have grilled him to elaborate on those words .... on those thoughts.
I have been re-reading some of Hemingway's correspondence from "Selected Letters," edited by Carlos Baker, and a few of his short stories. I am not sure why. I noticed the letters among other books a few days ago, picked it up and began reading it again.  I do admire Hemingway's work. Not long before she died, I wrote a few letters to his fourth wife, Mary, and she was kind enough to respond.
Back on point: I suspect Hemingway was saying that he was so much of a student of the Crusades that, at times, he might have felt he had been there and, actually, might have had dreams of having been being there. This subconscious reality was strengthened and magnified just by having been to Aigues Mortes / Le Grau de Roi, a port "complex" from which crusaders set sail for the Holy Land.
Not long ago, I wrote in a comment somewhere that novelist Ole Rolvaag "is among some of the authors whose books I have held in my hand while walking the streets of Minneapolis and the prairies of South Dakota, retracing the footsteps he took and then wrote about more than one hundred years ago." Hemingway is another author I have done the same with, holding his short story while walking alongside and canoeing in the Fox River (Big Two-Hearted River) in Michigan and others from among his stories while strolling a few boulevards in Paris. It was not difficult for me (especially in the Michigan woodlands) to believe I was walking only a few hundred yards behind Hemingway rather than a few decades behind him.
This is getting too complicated to explain thoroughly but briefly, so I think I will end my discussion now and, maybe .... that is a maybe .... continue it another day .... maybe, even, from another place and another time ....
Essentially, you may or may not understand, these things are a search to see within one's self (me) by seeing within others ....
But, one last thing: I have been near Aigues Mortes / Le Grau de Roi, passed by them, but never there, and now I am curious about them and wondering about the possibility of spending a few days there to see if the ghosts of Hemingway and his crusaders might be found where the land meets the sea ....


ANITA said...

Beautiful music Fram!I share that one to my you tube.I have not read anything of the authors you mention so I leave the discussion to others who knows.Thanx for visiting me at my place Fram.Have a nice weekend!

Fram Actual said...

I am glad you like the music.

You have been away from me for so long, Anita, that once upon a time I would have thought you had abandoned me. Now, I know better. Anita comes and goes as she pleases, but never leaves me. Who knows where life will lead us.

There are a few writers who, to the best of my knowledge, I have read every published word they have written and, for some, a few words never published, but of which I have gained access to read by being at the right place at the right time. Ernest Hemingway is among them.

The main thing to take from this post is that I have added one more place where I wish to be for a few days or longer: Aigues-Mortes, just off the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France, has been added to the destinations. The others are a return trip to Warsaw for a week or so; a day or two at "Wolfsschanze" in northern Poland; a trip to a certain cemetery in Germany not far across the border from southern Poland. I think it will happen soon. Whoops, I almost forgot -- Giverny, in France. I will be in Europe again near the end of May, but that is for business and it is in and out, and not for pleasure. The places on this list are meant to absorb from, to learn from and, in the least, to enjoy for "one sweet moment," as a song goes.

Snow last week for me, sunburn this week. The sun makes me happy and the slight burn helps me to feel alive. Thank you, Anita, for finding your way back to my blog.

ANITA said...

Thats intresting bec I have been thinking the same..But visiting Treblinka and some other things in Eastern Europe(But only weekend tours)Summer may be go to Sicilia,Malta,
Aigues-Mortes.Have to google that destination.

Sorry not writing here altough i have visited you.Thought would not interfer chit chatting.Besides its good to talk to someone else.No i never leave you.Absent yes.But never gone.

See you along the road Fram.Looking forward to read your pre tour route and ect ect..May be i will get a tip or two where to travel..

Greetings Anita

ANITA said...

Yea.The music is pure earorgasm:))

Fram Actual said...

I think you do more traveling than I do, Anita. For sure, you go to places which generally are more fun than I do, and even if I go to a "cool" location, my trips usually involve business and I end up with only a day or so of free time for myself. That is the nature of life for me these days.

And, I am not sure what I was thinking in my response to your earlier comment when I said, "I think it will happen soon" in relation to travel. My thoughts all along have been late summer or autumn. My long-ago trip to Poland is a good example. I originally was going in early September, then it became mid-October, then early November, then late November and finally took place the last week of December. Anyway, you probably will have been to a half-dozen places before I have been to one.

Well, I am glad you have been visiting me even if you have not been commenting. I always enjoy it when you put in an appearance, and I appreciate hearing your opinion about my posts and your activities.

See you next time, Anita ....

Smareis said...

Olá Fram!

A pintura é bonita, porém curiosa. Talvez a descrição seja um pouco fantasiosa. Acho que essa imagem parece mesmo, mais um cruzeiro de família rica, do que pobreza, doença, crueldade, combate corpo-a-corpo com espadas e machados.
Sobre Ernest Hemingway conheço algumas citações e o livro (Por quem os sinos dobram) considerado pela crítica uma das suas melhores obras. O livro narra à história de Robert Jordan, um jovem norte-americano das Brigadas Internacionais. Apesar do estilo limpo e seco de Hemingway, a narrativa prende o leitor, faz o leitor mergulhar na Espanha dos anos da Guerra Civil...
A força dessa obra está no realismo presente nas descrições e nos relatos sobre a guerra, capaz de te transportarem para as mais duras e cruéis situações que foram vividas pelos personagens. Por Quem os Sinos Dobram é um livro que fala sobre a vida, a morte, as formas de governo, o medo, o amor, o desejo, entre outros assuntos igualmente densos. Acredito que todas as pessoas deveriam colocar Por Quem os Sinos Dobram naquela listinha de "livros para ler antes de morrer", mas também sei que é preciso certo preparo para encarar essa obra, Li esse romance em etapa, ainda uma vez que ela necessita de certa atenção do leitor.
Tem leitura que me cansa um pouco, Perco o interesse no meio do livro, mais sempre termino quando começo um livro.
A beleza do livro está em ver uma pessoa tão objetiva, tão seca, tão calculista alcançando o que podemos chamar de humanidade. Recheado de monólogos internos, acompanhamos a mudança da percepção do protagonista com relação à guerra, sua relação com as pessoas, sobre a própria vida, sobre a Espanha. A estória passa-se apenas em três dias e três noites, mas não é a toa que o livro possui mais de 500 páginas. Como o próprio personagem reconhece, em quatro dias viveu uma vida inteira. Logo antes de executar a missão, sua mudança de perspectiva é patente:
“Quão pouco sabemos do que há para saber. Gostaria de ter uma vida longa, em vez de morrer hoje, pois aprendi tanto sobre a vida nestes últimos quatro dias, muito mais, eu acho, do que em todos os anteriores. Gostaria de me tornar um homem velho e verdadeiramente sábio. Tenho curiosidade de saber se a gente segue aprendendo, ou se há certo limite de aprendizagem para cada homem. Pensei que soubesse tantas coisas e na verdade não sei nada. Queria ter mais tempo.”
Ernest Hemingway é um grande pensador e um excelente Escritor.
Vale a pena conhecer pelo menos um trabalho dele.

Le Grau du Roi deve ser um lugar lindo, maravilhoso e curioso, acredito que lá deve encontrar alguns fantasma do Hemingway. Já vi algumas imagens bem curiosas com um banco de areia apoiada por dunas, lagoas e vegetação salgado ilimitadas. Agente encontra fotos fantástica de Le Grau du Roi, deve ser uma experiência inesquecível conhecer esse pedaço do planeta Le Grau du Roi.
A música é muito boa é bem interessante.

Excelente postagem!
Um punhado de sorriso!
Uma ótima sexta, e um excelente final de semana!

Fram Actual said...

My own thought is that Ernest Hemingway is more of an intricate and internal writer than most critics give him credit for, Smareis. Simply because of his subject matter -- war, hunting, bullfighting, for instance -- he often is seen as a simplistic writer whose world revolved around the superficial.

But, my own view is that he looks inside his own mind in relation to his own experiences, such as being severely wounded during World War I, as well as deeply into the experiences of others he lived with and loved with and drank with and ....

He looks inside his own mind and the minds of others and translates/interprets/extrapolates these experiences and the emotions/feelings/reactions which result from them into written words in a story.

The novel you mention, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," is an excellent example of this as reflected in the lines you quoted from Robert Jordan as the end of his life approaches.

Hemingway often did focus on war and I think the reason he did is because within it is the pinnacle of almost every human emotion, and he was trying both to understand the deepest feelings of the human experience and to explain them to others through his stories.

Anyway .... here we are again, Smareis. I think what drew me back into Hemingway right now was coincidentally noticing the book of his letters in a bookcase and the concept of the Crusades, thanks to Muslim religious fanatics and the damn fool known as Barack Obama, who so ignorantly used the Crusade illustration in an attempt (historically incorrect, incidentally) to justify the massacre in our times of countless Christians in Moslem regions of the world. Sorry .... but, if I could do it over, I would skip journalism and have gotten into politics. (I did work for a member of the United States House of Representatives for a while .... maybe, I should have stayed with that job and found out where it might have led.)

If you decide to read any more of Hemingway's novels, I would suggest, "The Old Man and the Sea." I think most would agree it is the best of his work.

And, the work of art/the painting/the illustration accompanying this post .... I love it. It is so real, yet so adolescent in a way. It really does demonstrate that too many people have no concept of reality until they are swallowed up by it like a fish by a larger fish.

Thank you, Smareis, for coming here and for writing your thoughts about this post. You have been giving me so much of your time in recent days that I feel a bit guilty .... just a bit, not too much .... I am glad for it and it makes me happy for a while. You are the sun ....

Smareis said...

Então Fram, eu ia citar esse livro no meu comentário acima, mais acabei esquecendo.
Eu já conheço um pouco dessa obra. “O Velho e o Mar” que na verdade é considerado o grande livro de Hemingway. Além disso, é uma de suas obras mais populares e conhecidas. Na época do lançamento de “O Velho e o Mar”, o livro recebeu opiniões positivas e negativas dos críticos literários. Porém, até hoje perdura como uma obra de referência do escritor. Uma das características mais exaltadas do livro é sua simplicidade, precisão narrativa e descritiva, além da criação de dois personagens que parecem se completar. De acordo com alguns críticos literários, a essência de “O Velho e o Mar” é a constante luta entre a natureza e o homem, a luta pela sobrevivência exemplificada na batalha de um personagem cativante e solitário contra um peixe arisco em alto mar. Entre outros aspectos, o romance destaca a importância da perseverança e da sorte.
Eu também concordo que é uma excelente obra.

Sorrisos Brasileiros.
Até breve!

Fram Actual said...

There is a saying about critics: Those who cannot write become critics of those who can.

There is more than a little truth to that, but for every king there must be knights and for every knight there must be squires. So, for every novelist there must be critics. Such is the way of the world.

Going back to the point, I am not sure how anyone in good faith can criticize perfection, and "The Old Man and the Sea" is the closest thing to a perfect novella ever written.

It is many things: It is a story of man struggling to survive in the face of nature and, I think, nature almost always wins unless luck intervenes. It is a story of perseverance and luck, and luck rules more than most people are willing to admit or to acknowledge. (Most think too much of themselves to recognize luck.) It also is a story of values, although that is not usually seen. Why must there always be winners and losers ??

Well, I think I will end there other than saying I think Ernest Hemingway will still be read in another hundred years, while most of today's fiction writers will be unknown and forgotten and their scribbles no more relevant than the doodles on the walls of the men's restroom in a typical saloon. (I am smiling as I write; I love to be sarcastic.)

By the way, I associate in a personal way mostly with "A Farewell to Arms." So, I would recommend that book to you if you have not already read it, Smareis. I think many of our favorite writers are those whose works in which we can see a bit of ourselves.

Thank you, Smareis, and yes, see you soon ....

victoria said...

Amigo Frank una historia muy interesante!!

La verdad es que tu blog es una escuela donde se aprende muchisimo..Lindo video!!

Gracias por compartir Mi gratitud desde España

Mi cariño y admiración


Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Victoria, for your visit and for your comment and for your compliment.

There are times I try to tie together events from different periods in history, or places with people. For instance, if I had ever known Ernest Hemingway had a fascination for the Crusades, I had long ago forgotten it. And, as I have mentioned in posts and comments, my interest in Hemingway's writing has been recently renewed. I believe I have read everything published by him in book form, but that was taking place a few decades ago. It is past due time to refresh my memory of his work.

I am glad you enjoyed your visit here, Victoria, and I hope you will continue to call on my blog from time to time.

Something special ....