Friday, January 29, 2010

jerome david salinger

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
Original book jacket copy, possibly partially written by Salinger[2]

when i think about the death of jd salinger, it's strange. when we think of his death and the long life that he lived, we only pretty much think of that small sliver of life that he shared with us, those three days that he takes us through the life of holden caulfield. the rest of his youth, and the 60 years after he wrote that piece are almost considered inconsequential; i'd say he's pretty much analogous to the "one hit wonder" of an author.

in truth, jd salinger was a very weird dude. to write something like "the catcher in the rye", i suppose you have to be, especially if the book is somewhat autobiographical in nature. understandably, any one who went through the horrors of WWII during that time, especially as an artist, would be emotionally affected for life. out of this time was his character "holden caulfield" created. from a short story in 1941 to catcher's publication in 1951, jd salinger spent 10 years developing the boy that everyone who has experienced beauty and appreciates the search for truth can relate with.

the amount of self-awareness and contemplation that jd salinger has probably put into his own psychological makeup is astounding, once you fully understand how he explicates the nature of holden and the way he experiences the world. in his life, he explored various forms of spiritual outlets to try to gain insight into his own self and perhaps the general understanding of the meaning of life. however, after sharing his insights, his ability to connect with others deteriorated and he closed into himself, becoming reclusive.

what his reasons were for closing himself off were unclear to me, perhaps he became embarrassed by sharing too much of himself or he felt that audiences were wholly misinterpreting his work. throughout his life, he fought any other adaptations of his work, maybe to protect the absolute purity of that which he created into becoming something different entirely. to be honest, i felt like he despised the very "phonies" who wanted to make something off his work, or who liked catcher for superficial reasons. being somewhat of a snob myself, i know there were plenty of people i considered the "phonies" holden was talking about, high school douchebags, if you will, who claimed they absolutely LOVED catcher, but i may have felt like they lacked the emotional depth and intellectual capacity to really be truthful of that statement.

salinger had a need to protect his work from being adulterated, and he took that with him to the grave. as recently as last year he challenged an author from writing a fan-fictiony novel about holden (an old holden 60 years after the events of catcher). though i may not fully understand his ways, i admire salinger for creating and fighting for his art, and keeping it the way he intended, instead of letting others trample on it.


janet said...

so you think you had the emotional depth and intellectual capacity to understand holden?

Doug said...

do i?