The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

by Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 17, 2010 10:42 am

Image

What theme or themes do you see in the book?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon May 17, 2010 4:02 pm

Ok. Off the top of the head with absolutely no opportunity to go back and refresh the brain..

The overwhelmingly bankrupt nature of the American culture in overseas settings. I spent 25 years with a man who was intimately tied into this culture of feeding off the 'less developed'. For some odd reason more ex-pats with absolutely no sensitivity for anything but their own narrow way of looking at the world seem to end up in jobs overseas. I don't know why this is? In any case, Hunter's depiction of these bottom feeders is spot on -- love that scene when he is describing the visiting Americanos and their wives. Right out of Fear and Loathing.

Hunter also offers a needle sharp depiction of the local population that lives off the bottom dwellers. We wonder why poor countries continue to be poor. It is a system wrapped in itself, feeding upon itself and overwhelming disinterested in anything but its own advancement. In fact, occasionally, Hunter perspective was so harsh, so cynical -- it was hard not to want some greater portrayal of the other side: the great numbers of people in the local culture that work hard and true for the indigenous population. They far outnumber of sycophants and leeches.

Besides this -- the book does a great job at tracking people who are empty and have no idea how to fill themselves. Whether its alchohol, sex, sucking up or ripping off -- these people do a great job at avoiding living their lives. It is as though Hunter took example A of desperation and then example B of desperation etc.

Uh, don't know where all of that came from -- I am sure these are many more ways to look at this book, but these are what still stick in me a year plus since reading the book.
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 17, 2010 4:14 pm

Thanks for starting us off, fireflydances. I would say The Ugly American and greed (or the greedheads as Hunter called them) are definite themes in The Rum Diary. I thought the scene with the Americans and their wives was very reminiscent of F&LILV, along with his passage about the "sack" and the search for the American Dream.

My other choices for themes would be the passing of time, the destruction of nature by man and the loss of youthful idealism.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby deppaura » Mon May 17, 2010 5:49 pm

I do not take credit for these comments which I found elsewhere:

A stitch in time that was experienced and has passed on

and

Nagging inevitability of getting older and reassessing life's choices

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon May 17, 2010 9:20 pm

The word bittersweet comes to mind again reading those words deppaura.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue May 18, 2010 11:49 am

The re-ocurring theme that stayed with me is the poverty and struggle of the island people. No one was caring to upgrade their lives - just taking advantage of them and selfishly (or greedy) trying to make money for themselves. With the newpaper it was survival of the strongest.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 18, 2010 6:17 pm

The David vs. Goliath parable.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby Buster » Tue May 18, 2010 6:22 pm

I was struck by the loneliness of the characters. I think that is what made the epigraph and the Pulitzer quotes resonate for me...in spite of great love or lofty ideals, the characters ended up alone and separate, both from each other and from society.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #30 ~ Themes

Unread postby gemini » Tue May 18, 2010 6:43 pm

fireflydances wrote:Ok. Off the top of the head with absolutely no opportunity to go back and refresh the brain..

The overwhelmingly bankrupt nature of the American culture in overseas settings. I spent 25 years with a man who was intimately tied into this culture of feeding off the 'less developed'. For some odd reason more ex-pats with absolutely no sensitivity for anything but their own narrow way of looking at the world seem to end up in jobs overseas. I don't know why this is? In any case, Hunter's depiction of these bottom feeders is spot on -- love that scene when he is describing the visiting Americanos and their wives. Right out of Fear and Loathing.

Hunter also offers a needle sharp depiction of the local population that lives off the bottom dwellers. We wonder why poor countries continue to be poor. It is a system wrapped in itself, feeding upon itself and overwhelming disinterested in anything but its own advancement. In fact, occasionally, Hunter perspective was so harsh, so cynical -- it was hard not to want some greater portrayal of the other side: the great numbers of people in the local culture that work hard and true for the indigenous population. They far outnumber of sycophants and leeches.

Besides this -- the book does a great job at tracking people who are empty and have no idea how to fill themselves. Whether its alchohol, sex, sucking up or ripping off -- these people do a great job at avoiding living their lives. It is as though Hunter took example A of desperation and then example B of desperation etc.

Uh, don't know where all of that came from -- I am sure these are many more ways to look at this book, but these are what still stick in me a year plus since reading the book.

Well said fireflydances. I read the book twice and look back with the same thoughts about his American characters working overseas that you describe so well. I even go a step further than you. Hunter through Kemp's eyes, certainly does not give american virtue towards others a good name. I found it hard to understand that Hunter made some of the characters have so much integrity for defending true journalism and not to have any concern for the actual citizens of the island.
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby dharma_bum » Mon May 24, 2010 3:59 am

Here goes...
Once a thing of beauty shatters into a million pieces, it is beyond repair: whether it's a girl, an island or the American Dream. The best you can do is stop history from repeating itself. Fight the childish greed that makes us reach for shinny, pretty things before we know how to handle them with care. Find your voice, with the right kind of ears, it will be heard.
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."
—Johnny Depp

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby Liz » Mon May 24, 2010 10:30 pm

dharma_bum wrote:Here goes...
Once a thing of beauty shatters into a million pieces, it is beyond repair: whether it's a girl, an island or the American Dream. The best you can do is stop history from repeating itself. Fight the childish greed that makes us reach for shinny, pretty things before we know how to handle them with care. Find your voice, with the right kind of ears, it will be heard.

Db, this really resonates with me. I think Hunter was expressing a certain loss of innocence or disillusionment throughout the book. And I keep going back to his reaction to what was going on with Vieques. And as we’ve discussed, there are various references to American vacationers, the bombing of Vieques and Culebra and other various American travesties. And he continued to point out American travesties throughout his life.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby gemini » Tue May 25, 2010 12:19 am

dharma_bum wrote:Here goes...
Once a thing of beauty shatters into a million pieces, it is beyond repair: whether it's a girl, an island or the American Dream. The best you can do is stop history from repeating itself. Fight the childish greed that makes us reach for shinny, pretty things before we know how to handle them with care. Find your voice, with the right kind of ears, it will be heard.


Yes I agree about the loss of innocence and the greed in spoiling a beautiful place for profit, but are you also saying that the journalism Kemp so protected was his way of using his voice to stop it or that it could have been? I am confused because with Chenault as the anolgy for PR, he was unable to stop what happened to her. Is the point that no one did anything to stop either and so history repeats itself?
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby nebraska » Tue May 25, 2010 1:11 pm

On the other hand, it was a well-told story and sometimes I like to just enjoy that part and not look for underlying themes. I wonder what Hunter truly intended here........

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby Liz » Tue May 25, 2010 9:34 pm

nebraska wrote:On the other hand, it was a well-told story and sometimes I like to just enjoy that part and not look for underlying themes. I wonder what Hunter truly intended here........

Not knowing the answer to that question about so many authors frustrates me so. :banghead:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #29 ~ Themes

Unread postby dharma_bum » Wed May 26, 2010 3:08 am

gemini wrote:
dharma_bum wrote:Here goes...
Once a thing of beauty shatters into a million pieces, it is beyond repair: whether it's a girl, an island or the American Dream. The best you can do is stop history from repeating itself. Fight the childish greed that makes us reach for shinny, pretty things before we know how to handle them with care. Find your voice, with the right kind of ears, it will be heard.


Yes I agree about the loss of innocence and the greed in spoiling a beautiful place for profit, but are you also saying that the journalism Kemp so protected was his way of using his voice to stop it or that it could have been? I am confused because with Chenault as the anolgy for PR, he was unable to stop what happened to her. Is the point that no one did anything to stop either and so history repeats itself?

Yeoman was the one who found his voice. Kemp heard it when others couldn't, but was paralyzed and incapible of righting the downward cycle of events. By rescuing Yeoman and preventing his demise, Kemp becomes more than a witness to history... he finally commits an act of civil disobedience and keeps hope alive. Too little, too late. However by giving TRD its fictional voice, heart and soul he makes the case for history not repeating itself.

(Film and book might have gotten a bit commingled in my earlier comments.)
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."

—Johnny Depp


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