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sammi

salinger

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love or loved him but i was just wondering if anyone else likes his stuff?

read all of it a ton of times when younger but now-ok he wasnt an objectivist but he WAS an elitist in that he respected intelligence even if it came out daffy

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To my understanding, J.D. Salinger was a VERY odd person in his personal life. Some of his experimentations with his own body are too grotesque to actually mention. However, I did enjoy Catcher in the Rye the first time I read it, particularly because it was different and brutally honest.

I do not think that it is very life promoting, however. The protagonist was certainly not somebody that anyone would wish to emulate. (I do not remember the exact details of the story because I read it a long time ago). From what I remember, he ended up in psychiatric therapy. He seemed to be depressed and confused. In fact, I think it could be possible to argue that some of his recollections of his journey were simply exaggerations of what really happened. Ths is not a far-fetched idea, given Holden's mental state. The story also seemed to be promoting the idea of being different just for the sake of being differnt. Some probably consider Holden to be "cool," but I do not think he was. He was actually slightly crazy.

Therefore, an initial attraction to the book, I think, is understandable. When I first read it, I did not know that much about Objectivism. Once I came to learn more, however, I realized that there were certainly many other books that portrayed a true hero.

Edited by Mimpy

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To my understanding, J.D. Salinger was a VERY odd person in his personal life. Some of his experimentations with his own body are too grotesque to actually mention.

Never heard of that, and don't want to, but he is also very well known for his reclusiveness.

From what I remember, he ended up in psychiatric therapy.

Holden narrates it while in a "rest home" in therapy, which I think is some type of psych ward. I don't have my book on me, but I doubt I found much significance in this novel, since I only read it once. I don't think I even marked it up much either. I'll look at it when I get home (maybe), but I only remember liking the character of Phoebe. I'm not exactly sure why I even read it...wait...I think someone once had it on their list of books and that's why I read it.

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I started a thread about this a while ago actually, back near when I first joined the forum.

Basically, my view is this: Holden is a very disturbed individual and is at complete odds with reality. If you want an example of the result of someone evading reality - and the process required to make it a habitual activity - look no further than Holden Caulfield. The value in this book is not in terms of heroes or emotional triumph or anything Romantic at all. The value of it instead lies in an unintended way, in the way that it tells us a lot about man's psychology.

Mimpy is correct, Holden does exaggerate. A lot. But more than that, he creates a fictitious character of himself in his head who he likes to pretend to be, to escape from reality. He hops into a bar and tries to act like a great charmer to the girls there, like some kind of Bogard. Then later on at the hotel, when that Pimp comes to beat him up, he actually taunts him and gets the Pimp to be really violent. Afterwards, he staggers into the bathroom, imagining he's some heroic Western cowboy, needing to patch himself up, before going downstairs to finish the Pimp off. Only he never does.

He never does anything. My first impression at the end of Catcher in the Rye was, "Absolutely nothing happened!" Eventually, after examining the book, I realised why that is. This is a story of immobility and paralysis. The book is all about Holden Caulfield, who wishes he could do so much ('do so much', in a vague, unexplained way, like 'giving something back') and yet shies away from all difficult situations, thinking of a new reason to back out at the last minute, until he's just left having some sort of mental breakdown near the Merry-Go-Round at the end.

Holden is cynical to a great degree and in many ways, it seems his cynicism is born out of an unwillingness to face reality. If he is cynical and bitter about everything about him, he never has to give it any merit, so nothing is ever really serious. I think this might partly be the influence of his parents (they come off as quiet distant people) and the death of his little brother, which he took full (unwarranted) responsibility for not being able to save. His reaction to that death is probably what shapes Holden the most, in that he, in a sense, tries to destroy his emotional capacity by just destroying any chance he could ever have at valuing.

To sum up, Holden is afraid of reality. He knows it can be difficult, he knows there are challenges, he knows there can be pain and misery and knows that somehow, other people manage to be happy. He shirks them off as simply being 'phonies', whilst he spends the rest of the book lieing to himself and other people. He plans to run away to the forest and be a lumberjack and gives up on the idea in the end. His mind/body dihcotomy, his attempt to kill his emotions, is probably greatly evidenced in his considering of some meaningless sex with a prostitute and in his disbelief at some Nuns to enjoy 'Romeo & Juliet', a highly romantic story.

Rather than face any of this difficulty, he places himself into a state of mental, intellectual and emotional paralysis. I imagine that between the last chapter and the epilogue, he was found lieing still on the floor. He makes vague aspirations which, 'I know, it's crazy', to avoid being like the 'phonies' and then rationalises all manner of excuses and reasons to not attempt anything.

'Six Degrees of Separation' probably explains it best when it compares 'Catcher' with the last few lines of 'Waiting for Godot':

"Let's Go," "Yes, let's go,"

Stage directions: They do not move.

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If you go find Tenure's thread about the book, you'll find my opinion on it. To sum, I wrote "CRAP" in black marker across the cover it. It's a book about a loser. In fact, I'd say it's about someone who's just about the Platonic Ideal Of Loser.

Utterly unbearable to read. And depressing and/or maddening that so many idolize him and worship the book and its author.

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I agree with Inspectors conclusion and analysis of the many who idolise Holden, however, the fact is that if it weren't this book, it would be another book. In fact, there are other books, as evidenced by the cult which surrounds 'Fight Club', which leave the door to a more overtly violent possibility (oh I could go on for days about how the psychology of Holden was similar to that of the Killer of John Lennon, and his words that one need only read Catcher to understand him seem very true).

If I didn't make it clear in my previous post, or in that previous thread, I do not endorse this is as a good read, which I reserve for a book of the caliber of Rand or Asimov's writing (that's my personal taste speaking heavily in the latter there). The value, if you can call it that, of this book, is the way it gives us a clear insight into the psychology of many young men (I am unaware of the psychology of women, but I would imagine it to be superficially different yet fundamentally the same) and consequently, into the minds of the old men these people become.

For an analogy, imagine if Ayn Rand had called her book "The Subsidence" and focused on the life of Peter Keating, painting a vision of the world tainted by Keating's rationalisations, fears and sorrows. It would be a horrifyingly dreadful read, and whilst you couldn't deny she had done it with a clarity of vision and purpose, with good writing (all of which I believe Catcher does possess), you would recognise these clear psycho-epistemological errors in this man's psychology, even if it only comes to you on an emotional level. 'This book is crap', as Inspector rightfully puts it, and just as I felt too when I first read it.

However, unlike him, I do not provide my analysis to give a qualitative evaluation of the book. Instead, I believe this book does show how life is and could be -- what it lacks, which would also consequently change the entire nature of the book if it possessed, is an ideal of man as a heroic being. Instead, it shows how man can be distorted, based on what he is.

What I mean to say, is that if one wanted an analogy to provide, to show how men's philosophical premises can distort their lives, one can point to Peter Keating or one can point to Holden Caulfield, as two possible choices.

Edited by Tenure

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I thought Catcher was pretty well written and quite entertaining. But then I was like 10 or 11 when I read it. Even then though there was never any question that Holden wasn't supposed to be someone that you'd emulate, let alone idolize. I remember finishing it thinking simply "wow this guy is some kind of crazy".

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However, unlike him, I do not provide my analysis to give a qualitative evaluation of the book. Instead, I believe this book does show how life is and could be -- what it lacks, which would also consequently change the entire nature of the book if it possessed, is an ideal of man as a heroic being. Instead, it shows how man can be distorted, based on what he is.

The problem with your analysis is that there is a particular kind of book that does that sort of thing - a smear-job or a parody - and Catcher is not one of those. For several reasons:

First, those kinds of works are filled with value judgments by the author - both direct and indirect. Try re-reading the section of The Fountainhead that deals with Peter Keating, and then reading Catcher (if you can bear it). There's a huge difference.

Not the least of which because when the author is against the loser, it is entertaining - which is something Catcher truly is not. To just present - naturalistically - the life of a loser is an exercise in excruciation. (And that's Catcher to a "T," isn't it?)

Secondly, there is a satisfying resolution in the kind of book you equate it with, as well as a satisfying presentation of how the idiot should be different. Yes, there are admirable people in Catcher, but you don't at all see how Holden is supposed to be like them and not him. Instead, Catcher was exactly like you say in your comparison to Godot - an existentialist nightmare that speaks of the pointlessness and futility of life.

The fact that you conclude that life is not pointless and that the character is simply a moron is entirely separate from the actual intention of the author. It would be like reading Don Quixote and concluding that he is silly. Well, yes, but that's hardly the point of the book.

Edited by Inspector

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^If you'll take another recommendation of mine, softwareNerd, I'd like to recommend Catcher in the Rye. It's a quick read too biggrin.gif

Edited by softwareNerd

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I had to read Catcher in high school. I absolutely hated it, that kid pissed me off so much. It was like reading a really long LiveJournal entry written by a 15-year old borderline-autistic kid.

I tried to like the book, I really did. I found all the symbolisms and analyzed what the author was trying to convey to me, but I could not enjoy that book for the life of me.

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I had to read Catcher in high school. I absolutely hated it, that kid pissed me off so much. It was like reading a really long LiveJournal entry written by a 15-year old borderline-autistic kid.

I tried to like the book, I really did. I found all the symbolisms and analyzed what the author was trying to convey to me, but I could not enjoy that book for the life of me.

That sums up my feelings amazingly well. Although, in hindsight, you did forget to mention that said 15 year-old was also a pathological liar.

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