Throughout his life, Hemingway was a big fan of Cuba. Big fan. Now, it wasn't so unusual for an American to spend time in Cuba in the 1940s and '50s, but Hemingway continued to visit regularly even after the communist revolution -- which, with Cuba being a Cold War hot spot, was not exactly behavior that was encouraged or accepted by the U.S. government.
In the final year of his life, Hemingway became increasingly convinced of a heavy FBI surveillance presence surrounding him, once describing his life as "The worst hell. The goddamnedest hell. They've bugged everything ... Everything's bugged. Can't use the phone. Mail intercepted." His friends and family thought his extreme paranoia was a byproduct of his heavy drinking and depression, and Hemingway was encouraged to check into a psychiatric hospital, where he received a series of shock treatments. Upon his release, he made at least two other suicide attempts before he finally managed it in 1961. Say what you will, the man was nothing if not bull-headed.
Yes, we'll save you all a seat in hell.
digicomphoto/iStock/Getty ImagesIt's soul-scarring callousness that works on multiple levels.
But It Turned Out ...
Following a Freedom of Information request more than two decades after Hemingway's death, his FBI file was made publicly available. Yes, he had an FBI file -- a monumental one, in fact. Not only was Hemingway's paranoia completely justified, but he may have actually underestimated the extent of the surveillance: The FBI had been following him since the 1940s. J. Edgar Hoover originally ordered the surveillance due to suspicions regarding Hemingway's obsession with Cuba, and agents had been glued to his ass ever since: following him, tapping his phones -- up to and including the one in his room at the psychiatric hospital -- keeping tabs on just how many times he kissed the Cuban flag (once, for the record). And while no one ever accused us of being psychiatrists, not being able to wipe one's ass without fear of someone taking notes on your technique has got to take a serious toll on a fellow's mental state.
Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images"Did a voice from the air duct just remind me to go front to back?"
Hm. Hemingway probably could've come up with a more eloquent way to put that.
Gavin has strong opinions about who should be president in Independence Day 2. He also has a Twitter.
Related Reading: If this article has you paranoid, consider investing in an infinitely-useful machine gun briefcase. This office escape parachute should be on your list too. Screw elevators. And screw the government for trying to weaponize marijuana.
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