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‘Into the Night’
The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemmingway
1924, Arrow Books, 104 pages
Thanks to Dennis Dale for the gift of this book.
“Midway upon the journey of our life,
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.”
-Inferno, Dante Alighieri
Like our every tribe, who at one time has wandered the face of an uncaring and hostile earth, Dante wends his way through the nightmare of his own age and his own internalities, with the same guide to illuminate his way as we have chosen—Virgil.
Like Ernst Junger noted in his Forest Passage, the man returned from war is in special peril of awakening earlier to reality as the thin veil of lies binding us to the overwill has been shredded by the wartime experience, before he has acquired the means to conceal his unorthodox mind from those who must own his every thought.
In Hemmingway’s Torrents of Spring, a satire, much of which escapes me concerning the literary set the war-experienced Hemmingway found himself dithering with as a writer in Paris, Hemmingway addressed the perpetual nomad who is the returning war-fighter.
Yogi, a World War I veteran, is wandering alone one night in snowy 1920s America about the Great Lakes region, when he comes into the company of two Native Americans, one who has no arms, both of whom served in the trenches of Europe. They take Yogi to an Amerindian speak-easy in the loft of a barn run by a certain Red Dog and his African-American bartender, men who did not go to war. When Red Dog asks Yogi what his tribe is he says Swedish and he is held at gunpoint by Red Dog and then beaten and thrown from the loft by Red Dog’s loyal negro along with his two Indian friends, one of whom has lost one of his two mechanical arms in the scuffle.
Having known numerous returning war veterans who have been attacked by men of other races who did not fight for this country, yet have special status in this nation and are sanctioned to administer beatings to those who fight for the nation, I have seen the plight of Yogi seared on men’s souls in their mid-life awakening to their enslavement. Indeed, I know three combat veterans who have been attacked by illegal Latinos, here under State sanction and indigenous African Americans living on State handouts.
Here is how Hemmingway puts it:
“From above floated the dark, haunting sound of the black Negro laughter…”
Hemmingway does quote Henry Fielding at length on war and morality and psychology in his introductions to the four segments of the novelette.
“The Passing of a Great Race and the Making and Marring of Americans”
“Yogi Johnson walked down the silent street with his arm around the little Indian’s shoulder. The big Indian walked along beside them.
“The cold night. The shuttered houses of the town. The little Indian, who has lost his artificial arm. The big Indian, who was also in the war. Yogi Johnson, who was in the war too. The three of them walking, walking, walking. Where were they going? Where could they go? What was there left?”
The message is clear. The struggle for life remains for those who have committed the sin—at the orders of the priesthood or not—of tearing the false veneer from the Lie to see reality. Civilization, embodied by the town, remains shuttered to them, home only to the blind, preyed upon by the likes of Red Dog, his Negro and the police, who also appear in The Torrents of Spring as functions of the Lie. Therefore, the fighting man, who goes to war or not, and who has maintained his inner honor culture bequeathed of old, must remain forever a nomad, especially among the chattel of the nation he fought for, for a nation can only belong to the liars and the blind and not the men who make it possible.
That is, I suspect, why our distant ancestors referred to themselves as “the warriors,” the people for whom honor remains the cardinal virtue, a characteristic that no lie matrix may abide. And what is a nation if not a lie, if not the burial and erasure of masculine virtue and tribal identity in the name of civic security?
In Volume Two, Shades of Aryas, we will address the fate of masculine virtue and tribal identity across the troubled journey of the warrior peoples who once saw themselves as the vessel of an ideal rather than the occupant upon a land deal.
Waking Up in Indian Country: Harm City: 2015
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