December 31, 2008

"Any unbigoted or bigoted books on God or merely religion, as written by persons whose last names begin with any letter after H..."

"... to stay on the safe side, please include H itself, though I think I have mostly exhausted it. ... The complete works again of Count Leo Tolstoy. ... Charles Dickens, either in blessed entirety or in any touching shape or form. My God, I salute you, Charles Dickens!"

The books Seymour asked to have sent to him, in "the longest, most pretentious (and least plausible) letter from camp ever written," the last thing J.D. Salinger published. Salinger turns 90 on New Year's Day, which provides an occasion for pondering the oft-pondered question: What's he been doing all these years?

***

Hey, I wonder if Richard Hasn't-Slept-With-Althouse Cohen is impressed by Seymour's book list?

***

Have you noticed that Instapundit always has a post that goes up in the middle of the night? Think he's really up and writing then? I'm really up now, writing. Maybe old J.D. is up and writing, adding one more sheet to the stack of pages he started piling up more than 40 years ago.

UPDATE: Instapundit awakens and answers my question:
Those are scheduled posts, for the benefit of people in the other hemisphere, or people who are up late and bored.
Tigerhawk razzes:
Is there any person with more regard for his fellow man than Glenn Reynolds? He is actually concerned with the welfare of bored people all around the world! And I agree. What with all the people worried about starvation, disease, war, and poverty, somebody has to speak out for the bored. Glenn has put his stake in the ground and said "the boredom stops here!," and I am down with that.
Much as I'm gratified by the instaänswer and tigerhawkswoopery, I'm a little sad that this discussion of boredom has occurred on the J.D. Salinger post and not yesterday's Camus post where boredom — ennui — would have fit so nicely. In Reynoldsian theory, the French existentialists must rank high, as they attend to the great problem of boredom. In Althousian theory, the blogger is not here to help you with your boredom, but to delight at serendipitous juxtapositions. So here is something Jean-Paul Sartre's blogged last October:
My sleep continues to be troubled by odd dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was a beetle, clinging to the slick surface of a water-soaked log as it careened down a rain-swollen stream toward a waterfall. A figure appeared on the horizon, and as the log drew closer I could see that it was Camus. He held out a hand and I desperately reached for it with my tiny feeler. Just as the log drew abreast of Camus he suddenly wihdrew his hand, swooped it through his hair and sneered "Too slow," adding superfluously: "Psych."

It is my belief that the log symbolizes the precariousness of Existence, while the tiny feeler represents Man's essential powerlessness. And Camus represents Camus, that fatuous ninny.

Read the whole blog, Being and Nothingness, where the tags are:
bleakness
despair
ennui
existence
meaninglessness
the bourgeoisie

23 comments:

mrs whatsit said...

The Instapundit said sometime recently that he times those middle-of-the-night posts to appear automatically for the sake of readers in far-flung time zones. And for insomniacs like me.

AllenS said...

I awoke at 2 am. One thing that I love about the internet, is that it never sleeps. Unfortunately, at this time of the year in Wisconsin, it takes forever for daylight to appear.

Christy said...

Please! Dickens is too sentimental for the worldly cynicism of Richard Hasn't-Slept-With-Althouse Cohen. You're right, however, that a childish list to impress his audience, parents in Seymour's case, is quintessentially Richard HSWA (pronouced HAS-wah) Cohen.

I'm up because I fell asleep in my big comfy chair watching the exceedinly disappointing Kate and Leopold with my laptop atop my lap, thinking about your recent movie posts. (I don't care what anyone says; Hugh Jackman is delicious!) The director's commentary is so far superior to the movie itself, the creator far more interesting than his creation.

Host with the Most said...

It's 4:57 am here in California or as my Dairy-owning father-in-law calls it, "Good Afternoon!" My alarm is set for 5:50 am (every morning, but my stomach needed something to settle it, so I'm up.

AllenS is right - the internet never sleeps, which is always a comfort and sometimes a scary thing in the middle of the night.

Pogo said...

Salinger's letter from camp

This passage makes me think of the children NY liberals think they have:

"I was quietly swimming in the lake during Aquatics Period, quite without a thought in my head, merely recalling sympathetically to myself the pleasant passion of Miss Constable, at the main library, for the great Goethe’s works in full. At this quiet moment, a thought occurred to me which raised my eyebrows unmercifully! It was suddenly borne in upon me, utterly beyond dispute, that I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but do not love the great Goethe! As I darted idly through the water, it became crystal clear that it is far from an established fact that I am even demonstrably fond of the great Goethe, in my heart, while my love for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, via his contributions, is an absolute certainty! I have rarely ever had a more revealing incident in any body of water."

While in college, my wife worked at an exclusive summer camp in Maine, attended by the upper east coast elite. We were apart for the first time, so we wrote each other every day. I learned alot about these superior beings from her notes.

Think of it: in summer camp for the entire summer, then back to boarding school. Mumsy meant to show up on parents' weekend but was in France, unavoidably shopping or at meetings, but unavoidably gone.

Some were lost and lonely kids, some were unspeakably bratty. I believe I understand how Eliot Spitzer came to be.

Much more believable is Alan Sherman's Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.

ricpic said...

Maybe the world breaks down into people who don't love Goethe because he doesn't quite measure up...to them! and those who don't love Goethe but know damn well that they'll never measure up to him...in short, the rest of us.

Presumption. Presumption is what it's all about. A great advantage in establishing ones rank. But thoroughly repellent.

john said...

It's been so long since I could dart idly, I hardly remember what that was like, except perhaps my first car that hardly ever ran, or that one drunken summer spent perfecting idle darting.
.

rastajenk said...

"Much more believable is Alan Sherman's Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah."

Or Meatballs.

Michael_H said...

H is included? I made the cut! Thank God.

Michael_H said...

Last night I dreamt that I was a beetle, clinging to the slick surface of a water-soaked log as it careened down a rain-swollen stream toward a waterfall.

Paging Dr. Freud.

Sofa King said...

bleakness
despair
ennui
existence
meaninglessness
the bourgeoisie


Yes, it's winter in Wisconsin.

Ron said...

Me, I come to this blog for the buffet...There is no...What tha?!?

tjl said...

"bleakness
despair
ennui
existence
meaninglessness
the bourgeoisie"

What practicing law is like (except for the random moments of fun in the courtroom).

John Lynch said...

I'm becoming alarmed at the trend toward metablogging here. Blogging about blogging is boring, boring.

Richard Dolan said...

"In Reynoldsian theory, the French existentialists must rank high, as they attend to the great problem of boredom."

LOL: The "great problem of boredom" which those existentialists came to personify more than chronicle. The "problem" made me think of Strauss rather than Camus, particularly today, when Prince Orlofsky will be announcing from many a stage how boring he finds it all to be. That is, until life's little games get him engaged with it all again, helped along by a little bubbly.

Chip Ahoy said...

As much as you're gratified with the instaänswer and tigerswoopery, so too am I gratified in turn by those two little dots that instruct me as a reader to stress the second vowel in my head as I'm reading, and with your witty joining of the word swoopery with the word hawk for such an amusing neologism.

Cheers, and happy new year! I can tell right off this is going to be fun.

Chip Ahoy said...

I read, to be careful, the H is included for exclusion. If the phrase "made the cut" means survived being cut from a roster, H did not survive being cut, according to my reading. These intellectuals are quite dry with their humor. I do believe the whole thing was, ahem, amusing in that intellectual slapstick kind of way.

But all that was merely an idle thought that flew through my cranium and bounced only twice, then skidded out the opposite ear, an idle thought that was bookended between thoughts even more idle than that about my triple vanilla latte being simultaneously under vanillaäted and under heated and the power cord to this laptop in need of repair.

rhhardin said...

You can't do better for genuinely entertaining phenomenology of boredom than Levinas, Existence and Existents, trans Alphonso Lingis.

William said...

Salinger shares with T.E. Lawrence the wish to be famous along with a wish to be hidden. I think Lawrence's conflcting goals had something to do with his illegitimate birth. Lawrence wished he had never been born and wished to justify his birth with grand deeds. I don't know the story behind Salinger, but the mystery draws you in. As a marketing tool, Salinger's reclusiveness was more effective than Mailer's advertisements for himself.....Sometimes at a museum you will see a pretty girl tuck her hair behind her ear. The simple beauty of the movement will catch your attention and completely upstage the Renoir that she is looking at. Renoir captured only a miniscule fraction of the loveliness of women. Salinger's stories capture only a fraction of the mystery of his existence.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm becoming alarmed at the trend toward metablogging here. Blogging about blogging is boring, boring."

In Althousian theory, the blogger is not here to help you with your boredom....

Pay attention!

Michael_H said...

Chip said: I read, to be careful, the H is included for exclusion. If the phrase "made the cut" means survived being cut from a roster, H did not survive being cut, according to my reading.

This is terrible news. Without the H, I am relegated to being Michael, a circumstance I would find intolerable as it would cost me many blog friends if I am known only as 'Michael'.

Save the H!

blake said...

I figured the "H" was for Hitchens.

Maybe it was!

To the quatrains!

BJM said...

Sofa King said:
bleakness
despair
ennui
existence
meaninglessness
the bourgeoisie

Yes, it's winter in Wisconsin.


Or Venice during the weeks between Epifania and Carnevale when the city retreats into itself and the silence is intensified by the sound of water lapping against stone.