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possession / belonging

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“But I was put of by Hemingway’s habit of approaching the city and it’s inhabitants with a sense of mastery. Spying a lovely young woman sitting near the door of a café, Hemingway felt inspired to ‘put her in the story’ he was writing about Michigan, but, he writes, ‘she had placed herself so she could watch the street  and the entry and I knew she was waiting for someone.’ It’s almost a non sequitur – it seems as if Hemingway is going to explain why he couldn’t write her into the story, and instead he says she was waiting for someone, as if to say she had already belonged to someone, somewhere else, and could therefor not be ‘put’ anywhere Hemingway wanted to put her. Unruffled, he finds a way around her boyfriend, writing, famously, ‘I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and to this pencil.’ I sat in my own café and looked around me but I didn’t see any particularly lovely girls, or lovely boys, and if I had, it’s doubtful I would have felt they belonged to me. It’s hard for me today not to bristle at Hemingway’s association of seeing with power – women, Paris, everything he surveys ‘belongs’ to him and his pencil. What I felt, on the other hand, was not a sense of possession, but one of belonging.” (Dr) Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women walk the city in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London.

I really like this passage for it’s concise, simple description of entitlement and privilege. Hemingway was a white, American male who is known for having lived in Paris and Pamplona (in addition to Cuba, and having spent time in Key West, Florida and

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