Friday, May 16, 2014

Quote of the Day ~ J.D.Salinger

            Yes, I've just The Catcher in The Rye; it would be a sin to not want to talk about that book after having read it- a mortal sin.
          The question to be asked now is Why is the world still the crappy place it is even after half of the world has read this book? after this book has become a must-read classic? (This is the state of our world; we regard technology over literature, and because of this we increase our standards of existing considerably-while degrading our standards of actually living and being human beings. Harsh, I know. But it's true).
           I'm currently wondering why it took me so long to finally get a hold of and read it. Maybe it was the rumors? Maybe it was the fact that nearly every student in the American education system is forced to read it? Maybe it was both.
             I've always thought of The Catcher in the Rye as a harsh novel, with the crudest possible description of teenage rebellion. I've always thought that The Catcher in the Rye would end up locked up in a mental facility for the rest of his life. 
            But, turns out, I've always thought wrong; The Catcher in the Rye isn't merely about teenage rebellion (actually in some senses it isn't about teenage rebellion at all), and its protagonist (the umm... cynical? Holden) isn't even that delusional, he isn't even crazy. He's nothing like he's described in the movies (Yes, he's misunderstood and afraid, but he isn't insane).

          Without further ado, here's the quote which best describes Holden Caulfield (and maybe even J.D.Salinger) to me:

             When I first read this quote, I realized that Holden was hitting a point most people wouldn't want to talk about. It's a really common concept actually, lying to make others feel better, or for their own good, or even because it's just the thing to do. We do this everyday...when somebody says "How's it going?" we don't give them an in-depth analysis of our day so far, and why it sucks or why it's amazing, we just say, "oh I'm good. How're you?" (or some ambiguous variation of that) even if we're faar from doing good. Because it's just something you say, just like "Glad to've met you."
           It's okay to lie that way right? It's okay to say yes when an earnest looking kindergarten-er asks you whether Santa is real. It's okay to lie about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, whether you actually like your boss, whether someone looks fat, and how your day is going; it's accepted. 
                A lot of people say that Holden is delusional, that he sees a different world from us. But actually he sees the world as it is. He see's the world with all it's fakeness (or "phoniness" as he calls it) and pretense. He sees that the people of the world are all living behind a curtain of lies and pretense, and that frightens him because he can't actually see anyone. We all pretend to be better people to others around us, whether it's in just sitting up straighter when someone you want to impress enters the room, or desperately acting "mainstream" to be liked by everyone else. The people we meet everyday? they're wayy different inside their comfort zones (where they don't need to impress anyone)...we don't even know what they're really like, and that's scary. Because if it's acceptable to lie to present yourself as a better person, then it's acceptable to put up curtains of pretense, it's okay to be seen but not really seen.
           Who decides what is acceptable anyway? Who even decides what is mainstream ?Who decides what is the appropriate thing to say or the appropriate person to be? Who even has that authority? (Okay I'm done with the rhetorical questions now haha) But seriously, why do we have to follow the norm when we don't even know who set the norm? I mean if everyone believed that 2+2=5, does that make it true? (Hint...NO) I think each person should decide what is acceptable for them, what they think 2+2 equals. They should be able to decide what they want for themselves.
               The Groupthink thing is getting wayyy too old. It's because of Group-think (or Groupthink) that there's even such a thing as fashionable and common courtesy. If suddenly society turns around and says that wearing shoes is a gross thing to do, the person who wears them is considered unacceptable. Acceptable and unacceptable are ultimately relative; let's all just do the right thing, thing that we think is right instead of following what everyone else thinks. Let's not follow society down a cliff...
          So I think that even if the real you is absolutely unacceptable, it's better to present yourself as yourself than to present yourself as a mere shadow, a silhouette, from behind a curtain of flashing smiles, and nice lies. DOWN WITH GROUPTHINK! And down with the acceptable and unacceptable. Let's live to be true and real.