Thanks Ernest Hemingway

Life is experienced in terms of what is beautiful and ugly, so I am uncomfortable with my “Cut the Crap” category. If I want to write about things that bring beauty into lives, I should not write about others’ “crap.”

I found this story, however, in Teaching as a Subversive Activity, the 1967 Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner book assigned to almost every education major in the 1970s (pp. 2-3):

In the early 1960s, an interviewer was trying to get Ernest Hemingway to identify the characteristics required for a person to be a “great writer.” As the interviewer offered a list of various possibilities, Hemingway disparaged each in sequence. Finally, frustrated, the interviewer asked, “Isn’t there any one essential ingredient that you can identify?” Hemingway replied, “Yes, there is. In order to be a great writer a person must have a built-in, shockproof, crap detector.”

Hemingway would say beautiful writing cuts the crap. I love irony.