Thursday, March 28, 2013
JD Salinger Was a Bad Dude
So, JD Salinger is dead.
I guess my initial response to that was, so what?
But my more considered and enduring response is something like, maybe that's not such a bad thing. He'll stay dead, and he can't die again or any more than he did, but in terms of raw humanity I think the Universe might have just become a slightly better place.
We have this tendency in America to worship people who succeed. As Raider's owner Al Davis used to say, "Just win, baby." He still says it, but when he does applesauce tends to ooze from his mouth and his Swedish nurse says, "There, there, Al, the Raiders have moved to San Diego." She knows it's not true, but it's one of those lies meant to alleviate suffering.
Unlike JD Salinger, who really didn't do very much to alleviate the suffering of those around him. In fact, like Robert Frost or Charles M. Shulz, he was the cause of much of that suffering.
But he wrote a book about people being phony and hypocritical.
God, what an insight.
Life, and good art, in MY opinion, is about what you do AFTER you come to that rather simplistic conclusion that all is phony and false.
I read Catcher In the Rye. It's a good book. But in terms of message or influence it's on my list right after the movie Used Cars and that Leave It To Beaver episode about telling the truth.
Salinger was a misguided person. By all accounts he made those around him suffer. He didn't care much for humanity and didn't show very much respect for those who sought him out to share his "wisdom."
So, I pretty much say the same thing I would to any old man who died after a lifetime of not contributing much to the lives' of others... take a fuckin' hike.
Having talent doesn't entitle you to be cold, cruel and dismissive of others. Empathy IS a talent. The people I respect the most aren't the ones who can throw a baseball or turn a phrase cleverly, it's the ones who have no discernable gift except caring about other people. You didn't have it, JD Salinger, and you have not earned my respect.
But the rest of you can go and lick that ass if you want.
Salinger was involved in some pretty savage covert ops in WWII. he had that type of moral and intellectual makeup that he was capable of it, and the Army used him. Welcome to The Hall of Bad Dudes, JD Salinger.