Sunday, March 28, 2010


Today's hero is the above fellow, one Knut Hamsun, and today is not his birthday. There was no hero of the day for today, so I figured I would bring out M. Hamsun as a substitute. His actual birthday is August 4th, 1859, and he was born in Lom, Norway. The reason I am trotting him out today is mainly because as of a week ago, I started Weight Watchers. Now, I am a big guy, and I have a big personality, and I have been a tub since I was born. I am used to being a tub, and in someways fat and happy is not a bad way to go through life. However, some work friends, and I decided to give Weight Watchers a try, and even put a small wager on whose fat ass could lose the most weight. Tomorrow is the first weigh in, and I have been hungry all week. I just ate, and I am still hungry. I am not too sure about this plan, but I am willing to give it a shot for more than one week. There is a fine line between being hungry and irritable, and taking joy in depriving yourself of things. I fear that I am still on the irritable side of that line. Now I am sure you are asking what the fuck does any of this have to do with M. Hamsun? Well M. Hamsun wrote a happy, little book titled "Hunger" it was his first novel, and I think his best. It is a semi-autobiographical work about a young writer's descent into near madness from poverty and hunger in pre-1900 Kristiania. Hamsun lived a lot of what he describes in the novel, and hunger was not new to him. He was born into an extremely poor family, and was shipped off, at the age of nine, to an uncle. That uncle used to starve, and beat the young Knut, and at the age of 15, he decided to try his luck in the wide, wide world. He took any job that would pay, and even spent a considerable time in America looking for, and taking any kind of work. He contracted what was thought to be a terminal case of TB while in America, and his friends raised the money to ship him back to Norway. He supposedly took a train, sat on the top of the car with his mouth open taking in huge gulps of fresh air, and declared himself half way cured when he reached New York. Whether it worked or not, he remained TB free for the remainder of his life. "Hunger" is a lovely book, and it supposed to be the inspiration for Kafka's short story "A Hunger Artist" which is also a lovely tale. I am still not convinced that hunger is a good thing. After all, I live in the land of plenty where being obese is a way of life, and portion sizes are gigantic. Which may explain the current bloated size of my waist line. My pants could probably serve, when I am not almost bursting out of them, as a big top for a traveling circus. The problem is that joy does not fall from trees, and I seem to eat for the pure joy it gives me. I need to replace eating joy with some other kind of joy, and am willing to listen to suggestions, but do not try to tell me "if you lose weight you will FEEL better." That is bollocks, I feel fine. My blood pressure is fine, and my cholesterol is fine. At least in "Hunger" the main character is hungry because he is poor. I am not rich, but I can afford to eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it. Perhaps I should take the money I would spend on feeding my fat face, and donate it to a soup kitchen.Maybe that would put me on the side of angels. Hamsun was no angel, and he had a unsavoury love of the Nazis that would cause him a lot of grief in his later life. He wrote a eulogy for Hitler in which he praised Hitler as a warrior for mankind, and a prophet of justice for all of mankind. That kind of thinking got Hamsun shipped off to a mental ward, which was the only thing that saved him from being tried for treason against Norway. Today, Norway still has a love/hate relationship with Hamsun, and he has been described as a "ghost that won't stay in the grave." However, I tend to overlook his later crimes, and focus on the 31 year old Hamsun, toiling away in relative obscurity, and trying to keep body and soul together (i.e. not starve to death), while writing one of the best novels I have ever read. So, for that novel that is a sort of solace in my own time of Hunger, and for showing me that my hunger is not really hunger, Knut Hamsun (August 4th 1859-February 19th, 1952, at the age of 92), you are my (214th) hero of the day.

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