9:50 pm - Thurs 1.28.2010
J.D. Salinger died yesterday.
He was 91.
I was saddened by the the news, then almost immediately wondered exactly what I was sad about; I mean, it's not like I knew the man, and nobody's going to come and take away my copy of Catcher In The Rye.
His ouevre is still out there, for me to enjoy anytime I wish (In addition to "Catcher", I have paperback copies of Nine Stories, and Raise High The Roof Beams, Carpenters/Seymour an Introduction on my bookshelf. Which makes me realize - since an article I read today said Salinger published some 30 short stories and novellas in addition to "Catcher" - that there's a lot of Salinger out there I haven't read).
And it's not like he was writing anything new (At least, anything new he was going to let us see), so what exactly have I lost here?
Why the sadness?
My friend Rhoda W. said something that partially answers the question - "It's sad because his life was sad".
Now, Rhoda and I don't know that to be true - Unless Rhoda knows more about Mr Salinger than I do - but from the outside looking in, it certainly seems that way.
And that does make me sad, because the man had everything I could imagine would make me a happy man...and was (seemingly) not a happy man.
(He was certainly a weird man; from what little I know, and the various articles I've read on his passing, it seems likely Salinger suffered from some undiagnosed mental illnesses.)
It makes me worry about my own prospects for happiness, and feel sorry for Salinger himself - I can't figure out a better way to say it, other than to say "It's too bad it wasn't more fun being J.D. Salinger".
But again, I don't really know that it wasn't. It certainly must have been some of the time.
I hope so anyway.
But beyond whether it was or wasn't "fun" being J.D. Salinger, his death forces me to confront an unpleasant reality - Whether you write a book beloved by millions, or a blog that gets 10 or 20 hits a day, you're gonna die.
Pretty obvious, I know, but I think at some emotional level, I've always conflated/confused "artistic immortality" with actual immortality.
"J.D. Salinger" will live on, as long as people read and write fiction (and talk about reading and writing fiction. And write about reading and writing fiction).
But J.D. Salinger is dead.
And if even famous, reclusive authors can die, what hope is there for me...?
Heard a rumor on Facebook today that Borders was closing.
From a cursory Google search, it looks like that's not the case.
(Not yet, anyway. But there are a number of clear indications that it's "circling the drain".)
The (probably imminent) death of Borders has been "on my radar" for awhile now - Late last year, for example, I heard that the Borders where I used to work (At La Cienega and 3rd) would be closing this month - but the Facebook post still made me sad.
I will probably come back to this topic, because it's interesting to me on a number of levels (and it's too late for me to get to many of those "levels" right now).
But the thing that hits "closest to home" is the feeling I've had for awhile now of my past "disappearing behind me".
Of course, that's what "the past" does...I guess.
But what I mean, specifically, is that I've been thinking a lot lately about how many places in my past no longer exist.
My mind has really latched onto this fact - which I guess is a fact for everyone/anyone who's been alive for more than a day - to the point where I've started wondering, "Okay, so a number of places where I lived, worked, and played, no longer physically exist. So what?"
What point does my mind want me to get from that?
I think it means whatever you want it to mean...but what do I "want it to mean"?
The most positive spin I can put on it is that it's a message to not "dwell in the past", because the past is gone...literally.
But I don't think of myself as "Dwelling In The Past Guy" - I'm more "Worrying About The Future Guy" - so I don't know if that's the "lesson" my mind wants me to get at all.
Maybe my mind is just rubbing my nose in this whole "mortality" thing - "The hospital where you were born? Gone. The apartment where you used to live? Gone. The place where you used to work? Gone. And you know what? One day, you'll be gone...".
(You know what? I'm gonna go with that "not dwelling in the past" thing...)
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