After hunting in the Green Hills of Africa with mixed results, Hemingway reflects on the day while sitting in front of his campfire. And reveals the elaborative processing on the Central Route, the Long Conversation in the Head about crucial information on the central merits of an attitude issue, in this case, bad shooting.
But that damned sable bull. I should have killed him; but it was a running shot. To hit him at all I had to use him all as a target. Yes, you bastard, but what about the cow you missed twice, prone, standing broadside? Was that a running shot? No. If I’d gone to bed last night I would not have done that. Or if I’d wiped out the bore to get the oil out she would not have thrown high the first time. Then I would not have pulled down and shot under her the second shot. Every damned thing is your own fault if you’re any good . . . Could I shoot as well as I thought I could? Sure. Then why did I miss on that cow? Hell, everybody is off sometime. You’ve got no bloody business to be off. Who the hell are you? My conscience? Listen, I’m all right with my conscience.
Hemingway, Ernest (2002-07-25). Green Hills of Africa (Kindle Locations 3279-3286). Scribner. Kindle Edition.
While this is presented as non-fiction and a true account of Hemingway hunting big game in 1930s Africa, there is certainly an element of creativity. Hemingway must have added a bit here, cut a bit there, took today and combined it with last week, all the while remaining faithful to his thoughts, feelings, and actions while hunting the Green Hills of Africa.
But within this creative non-fiction you still see an outstanding example of elaborative processing. Hemingway considers the Arguments of the day – shots made and missed, shooting positions, kind of game – and then engages that Long Conversation, adding new thoughts, the elaborations, to the Arguments. And note the evaluative nature of those elaborations, largely negative in this example, as Hemingway excoriates himself for his shooting performance that day.
See how the Arguments stimulate Elaborations to create or alter an attitude. This is the machinery of the Central Route, the process by which Other Guys create new and alter old attitudes with a change that is persistent, resistant, and predictive.
P.S. The Green Hills of Africa is a very early example of what is now called creative non-fiction. I’m not sure if Hemingway invented the genre, but he certainly showed how reality could benefit from artistry. With a writer like Hemingway, you never know when something is true or truly, as he might put it, but he rarely fails to make himself look bad in this book. Consider another example.
He describes a long, exciting, and ultimately successful hunt for a kudu, an African antelope with spectacular long and curved antlers. Hemingway gets one with the largest horns his native guides have ever seen and they celebrate the achievement. After a long slog back to the base camp, Hemingway meets the other hunters in the group and looks at their trophies of the day.
“He’s over there,” Pop said, and we went over. They were the biggest, widest, darkest, longest-curling, heaviest, most unbelievable pair of kudu horns in the world. Suddenly, poisoned with envy, I did not want to see mine again; never, never.
Hemingway, Ernest (2002-07-25). Green Hills of Africa (Kindle Locations 3393-3395). Scribner. Kindle Edition.
As I’ve warned before Upward Comparisons are a panther’s best friend and you see that demonstration with this hunter. Poisoned with envy. Never. Never.
P.P.S. Hemingway is tough for many current readers because he often writes about hunting and killing animals as sport. As bad, he uses guns! You must rhyme the Rule:
All Bad Reading Is Sincere.
P.P.P.S. Hemingway proves Nietzsche! Recall Hemingway’s evaluation of his bad shooting:
Every damned thing is your own fault if you’re any good . . .
Now, recall Nietzsche on strong versus weak wills.
And, if I have observed correctly, ‘unfreedom of will’ is in general conceived as a problem from two completely antithetical standpoints but always from a profoundly personal manner: one will at no price give up his ‘responsibility,’ his belief in himself, the personal right to his deserts (the vain races belong here – ), the other, on the contrary will not be responsible for anything, to blame for anything, and out of an inner self-contempt wants to be able to shift off his responsibility for himself somewhere else.
Gee. Doesn’t Hemingway strike you as a strong willed kind of Nietzsche guy? I’ve read quite a bit by and about Hemingway and I’ve not found any link between the two men, but that Will To Power thing seems pretty obvious in the two. I find it hard to believe that had the two men met each other under any circumstances that the conversation would have gone well, yet they share this driving commonality.