PERSPECTIVErnEverything Is JakernThe Unmanned Americanrnby Thomas FlemingrnMy old man did not think much of writers; he had knownrntoo many of tlieni. He did not Hke what httle he hadrnseen of Hemingway, and regarded his obsession with viriht’ asrnnnmanh’. Hemingvva, at least as a younger man, mrrst ha’ernliad few illusions about himself and his generation, and his firstrnand best novel. The Sun Also Rises, is an American’s Good-byernto All That, to manhood as well as civilization.rnPoor Jake Barnes, impotent from a war wound, spends his lifernfinding alternatives to sex — fishing in Spain, horse racing, bullfights,rnlaconic appreciations of good food—but in the end, he isrnsustained only by a hardheaded cynicism that does not permitrnhim even to imagine life might have been better if he had beenrnwhole. His answer to every illusion is his last line in the noel:rn”Isn’t it prett)’ to think so?”rnHemingway’s childish fascination with blood sports, bullfightingrnas well as big-game hunting, his affection for prize fighters,rnand his lifelong fear of the suicide he ultimately committedrnall mark liim as one of the unmanned men of the 2(Jth cenhir-.rnErnest is Jake, and The Sun Also Rises is an accurate diagnosis ofrna generation (rather an entire age) which, in giving up on civilization,rnhad forgotten how to be men and women. Jake is impotent,rnLady Breti: is a slut, Mike is an alcoholic, and RobertrnCohn is the rich untalented boor who was replacing the aristocraciesrnof Europe and America.rn”Robert Cohn,” as the first sentence describes him, “wasrnonce middle-weight boxing champion of Princeton.” Youngrnmen like sports, and if they do not, there is usually somethingrnwrong with them. I v’as lousy at all of tiiem, but playing baseballrnand football meant much to me at the age of 12, and eenrnafter I discovered girls, I sometimes preferred fishing. (Still do.)rnBut as boys grow into manhood, the}- find the thrill of competitionrnin their jobs, in the pursuit of learning, in politics, and the’rnresene only a few hours a week for the physical stress of the basketballrnor tennis which keeps them fit and clears their heads.rnIt is a bad sign when a man does not relegate sports to the atticrnor gunroom of his life. My fiither owned a baseball team andrnhad, if anything, even more contempt for professional athletesrnthan he did for writers. He loved the company of managers andrnscouts and always spoke of Al Lopez with affectionate reverence,rnbut the “phenoms” imder contract he diagnosed as sornmany cases of arrested development. Even when I was only 12,rnI had begun to realize there was something wrong with most ofrnthese guys, and when, at the age of 18,1 spent a season as my father’srn”press secretap.” (i.e., general flunky) I came to view hisrnplayers as crbabies and brats, incapable of managing their ownrnaffairs, always overspending their salaries, unable to resist a pinkrnCadillac or the peroxide blonde that came with it as a standardrnaccessory. Big as they were and tough as they coidd be in arnbrawl, thev were boys, not men.rnWhenever I hear of a professional athlete who wants to bernpresident, I shudder, remembering the childishness and moralrneffeminac- of flic phenoms. A big-time college football coachrnonce told me of how he first heard about a hot talent who wasrnnot bright enough to get into a real college. What a shame tornhae to pass up a chance at getting young Joe Namath!rnI met the coach when I was in college because I used to drinkrnbeer with Big John Canada-, a former lineman with the Nev-rnYork Ciants. John was no more intellectually inclined thanrnBroadwa- Joe, but he was a man who once saved my skin whenrnI got into an argument with a Marine just back from Viebiam.rnWhen the Marine, who was built like a shot-putter, invited mernto go outside where he was literally going to kill me, I had nornlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn