Jan 29, 2010

An obit for someone who understood us

What are we going to say about J.D. Salinger?

J.D. Salinger is dead.

He's dead but his absence was already enshrined. We loved him in his perfect, God-like silence, but his silence was against us.

How can we organize his wake? He didn't like us. He doesn't want our love. Even just saying his work changed our lives, he doesn't want to hear it. Even if we just say, "Rest in peace," he hears that like a big "Fuck You":

"That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write 'Fuck you' right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say 'Holden Caulfield' on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say 'Fuck you.' I'm positive, in fact."

His was a voice of alienation from a deeply alienated man, but he's alienated even from us. He gave voice to two assassins: What makes us think he makes a distinction between them and us?

He's dead and still has no plans to publish. Those two or 15 novels he has finished and locked up? They're not for us. He doesn't like us.

Do we get this? Yes, he understands us, and we disgust him.

But, rest in peace anyway, Mr. Salinger. We're going to say what we're going to say, and you're free from us now. We hope it's better. We'd be sorry if we could be, but we don't really know how. We loved you for all of it anyway.