As you may all know by now, I like to start my day waking up early to read and have my coffee. I stopped reading the newspaper lately. I realized that on days I do not read the paper, I am much happier, although I read the news on the internet and watch it on the TV in the evenings. Right now, at this stage in my life, I do not need to be sadder than I already am. This past week I started rereading all of my Hemingway books. I came across the following passage:
“Yes,” said Robert Jordan. “If it is not unprintable,” naming the principal obscenity that had larded the conversation. The man, Augustin, spoke so obscenely, coupling an obscenity to every noun as an adjective, using the same obscenity as a verb, that Robert Jordan wondered if he could speak a straight sentence. Augustin laughed in the dark when he heard the word. “It is a way of speaking that I have. Maybe it is ugly. Who knows? Each one speaks according to his manner.” Ernest Hemingway (For Whom The Bell Tolls)
And I thought of how far we have come from that day in 1940 when the book was first published. Of all the cultures, I think the 21st century culture is the most vulgar and obscene. Even the English language has changed to some extent. Our century is a century of reality TV shows, like Jersey Shore and Big Brother, full of foul language and vulgar scenes but with zero moral value. It is a century of weak-scripted movies containing coarse language, nudity and violence, so much so that viewer discretion is advised every time one is shown. It is a century of bestsellers screaming obscenities in every single paragraph. Young children and teenagers use bad language and offensive swear words as adjectives and as nouns which make you wonder if they are capable of speaking properly.
Rare are the films which have a story, as rare as the books that, after reading yourself, you can pass on to your children to read.
John Grisham in his advice to the class of 2010, University of North Carolina, wrote:
“The most difficult task facing a writer is to find a voice in which to tell the story. In this respect, writing is a lot like life itself. In life, a voice is much more than the sound we make when we talk. Infants and preschoolers have voices and can make a lot of noise, but a voice is more than sound. The voice of change, the voice of compassion, the voice of the future, the voice of his generation, the voice of her people. We hear this all the time. Voices, not words.”
It makes me think that most of what we see in our culture nowadays is just noise. In fact, there is no culture. We are missing the beauty, the goodness, and the simplicity of life. Most of all, we are missing the voices of our generation. As Leo Tolstoy wrote:
“The best stories don’t come from ‘good versus bad’ but ‘good versus good.’”