Salinger was born in 1919 and died in 2010. He participated in World War II and came away what he was throughout the war -- a writer. He was very particular about his works. Changing even a comma in a manuscript was grounds for fury. He loved his works, his creations, his world. And he was blessed and cursed with frequently-cheering people who agreed with his outlook: There was something sublime and elevated about the world in which he lived ... the world in which they lived. Do we call it "culture?"
And it was this, I think, that sucked me in -- the holiness of creating and culture and elevation. It was a world I grew up in and never really understood as a child. A very god among the gods. But what does a kid know about gods except ... the anguish of distance.
It's slipping away now, I suspect -- that pervasive agreement about what is good and cultured and widely agreed to. Good writing. Good art. Good music. A cloud of wonder high, high in the sky. If we all agree, then it must be so.
Strange to think that so many of those who disdained God nevertheless enthroned their own god. Perhaps it is just a human need -- to hook up with the high and mighty and proclaim a belonging and warmth and blessing within that fold.
Watching the TV, I could see a bit more clearly the insanity I sensed as a child -- the reason I might be set aside in favor of god.
But I am not pointing the finger solely at the arts. I really do sense that it's an adult pastime ... the selection of a very god of very gods .... the one that is big, bigger, biggest ... the Vatican among lesser churches.
My mother had such a church. She had friends like Carson McCullers and Truman Capote who had similar churches. My father longed to join a similar church... and thought he might join when emulating the icy realms of James Joyce. But there's no faking it in the world or a demanding god.
Later in life, I would read a lot of books, partially as a means of making peace with the god whose lash I grew up with. Salinger seemed unutterably lonely and yet lonely with only one escape route before him -- the route still deeper into loneliness and demand and very god of very gods.
I watched the show and missed my nap and am forced to admit I have been tarred by the brush with which I tar others ... not the greatness part, but the glory and the magic and the music of it all. No doubt it was responsible for the few times I came close to killing some helpful art expert who offered to 'explain' a work of art.