Table of contents

A river runs through it 2

On thought & man

& he recounts this story about this brother: He thought back on what had happened like a reporter. He started to answer, shook his head when he found he was wrong, & then started out again. “All there is to thinking,” he said, “is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”

When the two boys were educated, the older one was taught how to write. Two things describe the art of writing he thus learnt: To condense rewritings of his pieces. He eventually becomes a teacher. His younger brother becomes a reporter.

Both were taught fly-fishing. The younger eventually started doing it how it seemed best to him; the elder did it in the way of his father. It is obvious in the last exchange between father & son that the father means by beauty alternately soul & being.

The difference between the two boys can also be stated in this way: The younger loved to drink & to chase after dangerous women; the elder got married, although he could hold his liquor. The younger brother calls this ‘going off & getting married.’ The elder’s art of writing is such that he showcases his prodigal brother-in-law as a grotesque image of his brother; he also showcase himself, all too modestly, imaged in his wife’s other, staid brother.

This is proper, because both brothers are aloof characters, removed for their reasons from the way things are done. The young brother was also ambitious. In Montana, as elsewhere in America, putting all these things together proved disastrous.

Neither undeserved victory nor undeserved defeat are easily understood, for both of them seem to deny that our laws & way of life are what we were taught & what we believe. How then can we understand those desires that move us, of the immorality of which our fellowmen & the laws by which we must live both assure us whenever we have need to be reassured? I suppose that these two brothers are so alike that it is not serious to suggest that one of them was law-abiding but the other a criminal.

We must think that over, because the same cause moves both of them & must give an account both of the beautiful & of the ugly things we see, or which we learn to espy in mere suggestions. It would do me no good to move beyond the decent things already said, but it is not improper to suggest that the cause which moved the young brother, portrayed as love of gambling, women, & drink is the cause that moves the elder brother to write his story.