So right now I am reading two different books, which is not that unusual for me. Sometimes I read up to four different books concurrently. One of the books I am about to finish is Pascal’s Pensees. I’ve been working on this treatise for a long time. My joy that I am nearing completion is great; although I will be a bit sad. My morning 5-6 pages of Pascal have served as a daily ‘rebuke’ from the great thinker. The other book I am reading is one I started last night and will probably finish today. It is a book of quotations from Ernest Hemingway about writing.
My problem is, these two people, both whom I hope to learn from, could not be more opposite. I was wondering what a conversation between the two might look like.
Hemingway: You have to know the real world in order to write the real world. Everything else is just fakery
Pascal: But the world is filled with such darkness. How can you trust your eyes to truly know the real world?
Hemingway: That is symbolic garbage. There is no symbolism, there are only real things.
Pascal: Yes, real things like mathematics, God, Christ, and science but; beyond that we find we cannot trust ourselves to truly accept the known things.
Hemingway: What do you mean? If I kill a bull in the ring, I know what happened. I felt the emotion, saw the blood, smelled the dust, heard the cheers. I know that is the world. That is real.
Pascal: But is it? I hear you say that you saw, smelled, and heard and that the bull died—but what of your death? Will that be real? Killing the bull is only a faint act of superiority in which you attempt to forget by way of amusement, your own mortality. It is sin that is hunting you down seeking to kill you and drag you away from life.
Hemingway: I understand all about sin, brother. There is pain and injustice in the world and if there were a God he would take care of it and I wouldn’t have to write about it.
Pascal: Would you bet on the fact that there is no God?
Hemingway: Oh bother—I’m going fishing.
Pascal amazes me because his mind is so logical and knowledgeable of both the Scriptures and the natural world. He and Hemingway would agree that the world around us tells us things. Hemingway, however, rejects God and Christ as significant in the life of people in understanding the world. Pascal argues that without the Lord, the world only draws us further away from God.
Hemingway was a great writer—I love his terse style; but his philosophy of life I find, wanting.