Hills Like Elephants :: "Invisible Ink"
One of my favorite short stories is Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. Typically assigned in 9th grade literature classes, it is an introduction to subtext and symbols, a practice run at seeing enormous things hidden in plain sight. The story is about an impending abortion but you certainly don't know this in 9th grade and Hemingway never says it directly. This is the point. See the hills being like white elephants is a nice visual simile, but Hemingway directs the reader to a different image, the valley that runs down from their summits, one side richly fertile, the other dry and barren. While the protagonist couple have a banal conversation about nothing, they are, in fact, having a conversation about everything. Upon later inspection, it is a bit heavy-handed. You are unprepared to see nearly any of this until you know what to look for. And then it reveals itself, a world of metaphor and subtext and symbolism, a world you never saw, emerging into view as a shadowy and terrible secret. It's all ruined, in a way, like when you learned about sarcasm or when Plato's escaped cave-dweller had to go face his old roommates. San Diego band Hills Like Elephants make music that hits with a similar ferocious quality, lead single, "Invisible Ink" suggesting other hidden, plainly stated secrets. Like seeing the unseen, this is hearing the unheard, a record about heartbreaks told over pounding piano and hooks that explain themselves. Like Hemingway's Spanish valley and hills, the ruination on "Invisible Ink" is perfect, the creative destruction of a world that said far too little, a world never seen until just now.
Listen :: Hills Like Elephants - "Invisible Ink"