The Hundredth Meridian

The Perfect Life

It is possibly a good thing that more writers are not sportsmen and outdoorsmen. The relationship between art and sport is a complexly curious one, since a case can be made for a sporting element in writing that is, of course, wholly cerebral (though not necessarily noncompetitive and nonviolent). In writing, as in the nonliterary arts, the artist, like the true sportsman, quickly discovers his chief adversary to be himself; not, like the hunter's quarry, the elusiveness of the artistic ideal. Also like the sincere sportsman, the dedicated artist-sportsman, or sporting artist, understands that the final object of all his striving and attention is not the ostensible one but something beyond it: the apprehension of material and spiritual realities accessible only through ritual, and art. This truth, which was undoubtedly known to the prehistoric hunter-artists who created the cave paintings in the south of France, has been largely forgotten by modern writers and hunters ("sportsmen"), who in recent times have divided themselves into tribes so alien to one another that they have difficulty in recognizing themselves as fellow human beings. Hemingway, when he is not being taught as an example of closeted fag literary genius, is dismissed as a "hunter-writer." And while contemporary successors to earlier hunter-writers like Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt, William Faulkner, and Hemingway do exist, they find themselves increasingly...

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