Salinger, Recluse

Why I believe literature will not die.  It might not live as widely in print, but the feeling of getting into someone else’s head, feeling their feelings, experiences, and desires.  That’s what good art does – allows us to feel for each other and to practice being something other than oneself.  When else can you really do such a thing?
I went to a Wesleyan alumni talk a few weeks ago where Amy Bloom said that people often mistake her for a compassionate writer when she’s actually an insatiably curious writer.  For me, curiosity is inextricable from empathy and com-passion.  Con-passion.  To suffer with, feel with.  To be interested in something or someone is to step into that subject-position and vantage point.  I feel that I can at least try to see with a thousand eyes, one at a time, to understand the world that much better.  “He can’t be himself to others, and he doesn’t really try in some ways. But you can see that he’s captivated by his own spirit.”  I love this because it is so true.  Though it has to be tempered with openness and generosity, but can’t that be manifested in more ways than can be portrayed by the media?
So many half-finished thoughts today.  I started reading Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain the other day, and have found that it doesn’t make me angry anymore.  In fact, I like it.  Go figure.

Letters of JD Salinger open to the public for the first time.

“The lust for Salinger gossip reached a fever pitch when he died in January. Successful authors, like any public figures nowadays, are expected to prostrate themselves in front of our culture and allow their lives to be picked clean. Salinger would not. …These letters confirm a few theories about Salinger, including the fact that he continued to write from his secluded home in Cornish, New Hampshire, and was quietly sitting on several unpublished novels and stories. They also tear down some damning assumptions—that Salinger was a complete misanthrope, that he hated children, and that he was incapable of caring for anybody, paralyzed by his distaste for phonies and literary leeches. In these letters, in fact, he’s a wit, a devoted father, a lonely middle-aged man and at his core, the kind of writer who just wants to write until he can’t put pen to paper anymore, because that’s the only truth he knows.  ‘Some of the letters are very dark, but they also show a kind of witty, jollier side of J.D. Salinger that I never knew existed,’ Kiely says.  ‘He knows himself really, really well. His self-knowledge is what comes through—he can’t be himself to others, and he doesn’t really try in some ways. But you can see that he’s captivated by his own spirit.‘– TONY

Keep dancing, keep running, painting, stretching, creating, till you can’t put pen to paper anymore.

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