Something from Hemingway

By Sarah Lyman

An excerpt from an interview with the writer Ernest Hemingway:

Interviewer: “Finally, a fundamental question: as a creative writer, what do you think is the function of your art? Why a representation of fact, rather than fact itself?”

Hemingway: “Why be puzzled by that? From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?”

The moment I read this quote by Hemingway I thought about my training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and how the quote does well in summing up the most important bit (more like a hunk, or glacier actually) of knowledge I gained in the past three years. To loosely quote Summer Lee Rhatigan, when you keep pushing beyond the representation of movement, pushing further past what the step or form looks like and towards the feeling it conjures inside of you, you come upon something that hasn’t even been invented yet: a new language. This is how I understand making something alive and immortal as Hemingway states. And this is what makes great dance, great fiction, great art, magic. The total-ness of the truth inspires the magic of reality and fact instead of just being a redundant reminder.


Pictured: Sarah Lyman; photo courtesy Sharp and Fine