bad opinions are like nazis even when they’re right

Someone told me yesterday that Hemingway was a misogynist and his sentences were too long. Hemingway did say some pretty crappy stuff about Sylvia Plath at a party in New York once and get married a lot but I don’t think his stories are mean to women; just not concerned with them much. He was a man. He followed the maxim: write what you know. His sentences are fifth grade reading. I checked. I have a computer that can tell you that kind of thing. People also say Hemingway wrote drunk. He said in an interview that he never did and the very idea of a pitcher of martinis was ridiculous. I agree. Drunk men don’t write like Hemingway, they write like Faulkner.

Maybe she was right, though. I haven’t read all of Hemingway yet so I asked her why she said that. She said she didn’t have to prove anything to me about Hemingway. This was a friendly joke but you see the underlying problem. She was just giving a bad opinion. Probably someone she wanted to be friends with made disparaging remarks about Hemingway at a party. That’s how those things happen.

I say bad opinion not because I think she’s wrong, though I do, but because she hasn’t thought about it. She’s got opinions that were ready-made. Ready-made opinions are like ready-made art. They try to elevate the artist without doing any thinking. That’s what happened to Germany a couple of times. Germans seem specially suited to adopting ready-made opinions so they cause problems every now and again.

I know people who have good opinions that I disagree with. A writing friend, ™Weissenberger, for example, has opinions quite at odds with my own but I think his opinions are just fine. I even published them. I think he’s wrong but I think his opinions are first rate. He has good opinions because he crafted them himself. With lathe and luthier tools. He reads a lot. Most Americans can’t read. It’s not just the Chinese. The only people who can all read are Icelandic (this is a good bar bet for you because it’s outrageous but true: “What the fuck do you mean all Icelanders can read? What about babies?” And you will bet $10 and then look it up in the Britannica and it will say: All Icelanders have the ability to read, even their infants). I am just learning to read. ™ reads all the time and he thinks about what he’s read and then heads to the workshop to bang out some opinions with elbow grease and a bit of ingenuity. That’s why I like his opinions and I think they are fine and sometimes prettier than mine. That’s why I think that girl who doesn’t like Hemingway has lousy opinions. It’s one thing not to eat meat. It’s another not to know why. I think most people are good inside and if they just take the time to think about it for themselves they will realize that while there are good arguments for vegetarianism there isn’t one good goddamned argument for gassing Jews.

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