Dec 13, 2012

Sirrr --- a letter to Frank Rich

Like most posts involving Frank Rich, this post will  start with the obligatory statement that he is our true hero, even more so than Paul Krugman, our other true hero. To general despair, Frank left his perch at the New York Times for calmer waters at the New York Magazine, where he now writes a monthly column. And the last column, two days old or so, is about Petraeus, the ex-general, and other fallen American heros, how could they fall and why.

The world's leading I-told-you-so artiste

We haven't posted a Sirrr post for two years or so, but here it is.

(Sirrr:)

Frank --- your dressing-down of Petraeus is beautiful, but your analysis of America's adulation-addiction falls short; it's basically tautological: America adulates heros because Americans love a good hero. Who doesn't?

The spy who trusted g-mail

I don't have the answer either, but I have a question. And it invokes Holden Caulfield, another American hero, this one the prime example of a literary anti-hero who suffers as much under the "phoniness" of modern American culture as you, Frank, and us, your readers, tend to do. OK, Holden Caulfield of the Catcher in the Rye. He has his own Wikipedia entry, of course (bear with me), and it runs, quote:



"One of Holden's most striking and quintessential qualities is his powerful revulsion for "phony" qualities, a catch-all term for all the perceived hypocrisy that irritates Holden. It is this cynicism that consequently causes him to distance himself from other people"

unquote.

Emphasis on cynicism, of course. How on earth, Frank, can the revulsion/irritation for/with perceived hypocrisy be perceived as cynicism? You point it out, the con-scheme, the self-embellishment, the terminal-cancer-related-expense-accounts-necessitating-the-hire-of-private-jets, the military medals on civilian suits, and so on, from Guilbert&Sullivan to Kafka, and it is YOU, the out-pointer, who is the cynic. Exclamation mark.

Question mark. Wouldn't the cynic --- on any realistic denotation of the term --- be the very opposite, the very person that is NOT irritated by perceived (or real) hypocrisy? That abets by it? Perceives it as inevitable and lives with it and tells jokes about it at terminal-cancer-fundraisers?

So, this is my question: If we have a culture that perceives this cynical view of cynicism as the new normal, shouldn't something more fundamentally be wrong with this culture? Question mark. 

And somehow, I have the feeling, it's the same wrong that underlies the passionate embrace of truthiness, or the inability of Tea Party members to laugh about jokes about tele-marketing. It's everywhere, now. It's like ants crawling under the skin of dope addicts. Exclamation mark.

Thanks for listening. Cheers, Michael Ampersant

And  since this is us, of the Green Eyes, we have a corresponding fragment from the novel, from Chapter 36 ("Rapture"):


Why is it that we never learn about self-sex at Pencey, Holden's prep school, everybody's sixteen, they must have been floating in cum there, literally, what's wrong with J.D. Salinger? You are a realistic author, flow of consciousness, first person, minute-by-minute account of non-events, and nobody's masturbating! You can buy twenty e-books about the Catcher on Amazon (but not the book itself, that's only available as a dead tree @ 0.01 cent plus shipping charges). Any of these meta-books raising the question why there's no wanking at Pencey? What are these literary critics doing all day? You were almost Salinger's neighbor in Cornish for a year, you had a scholarship at Dartmouth, you were a member of the Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts nearby, how is it possible you end up as a despised teacher of French at this hippocampus, whining all the time, like Holden, and masturbating unlike Holden, since you have nothing better to do? If Alice ever chides me again cum-wise, I'm going to ask her whether she's read Salinger, that'll shut her up (I'm mixed up here, somehow, I know).

Yes, we need more tasteful thoughts. My God, I feel like shit, drowsy, it's as if the air conditioning has stopped working, although that would be too  much at this moment, that's not going to happen. But we still feel like shit, drowsy, sleepy, unable to sleep, hot, de-cumed (ugly, very ugly). It's three o'clock in the afternoon. There were some departing noises from father. What's going on?

There's a goodbye message on the kitchen table, right where Alex had left his message, and it's from father, I presume, I don't remember his handwriting, it reads like a suicide letter: "Dear John, I have to go now. I feel sorry. Let's stay in touch." Why do we have to stay in touch? There's no need to stay in touch. Go to hell. You're Tea Party now, right, why can't you just undress and have yourself raptured like any good Tea Party Patriot and go to a better world? You sneak out on me as if nothing has happened, unbeaten, un-whatever. I fall in love, I lose, I have a father, I lose. What would Salinger say ('awful').

Did you ever try to drink my coffee on a weekday afternoon during the summer in Georgia? Did you ever try to switch a computer at the same time (on)? And go on the internet? And discover that Charles has already posted the first installment of his Freedom-Fries script on your blog, presumably before he entered a state of nervous breakdown, or, more likely, after he entered a state of nervous breakdown, the way it reads (excerpt:  “GEORGE W. BUSH (first clip): We do not torture. GEORGE W. BUSH (second clip): We do not torture. GEORGE W. BUSH (third clip): We do not torture..”). Did you ever go to the first home page of CNN, which speaks of nothing but Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestseller of the decade, a play of fan fiction on the Twilight Saga (and all that)? How about fan fiction Salinger-wise? Where would we start? With Holden's failed essay on the Egyptians perhaps ('The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere...')? How would we do that? We're getting really dangerous now, and long-winded, and grab another cup of coffee. So we write: "George Clooney was born in 1692, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. His mother and father were both on the Mayflower heading east. His father was native to Spain, while his mother was native to Spain..." Isn't this much funnier? And we could go on and on, we copied this from the internet, there’s much more to copy. The Catcher still sells two hundred fifty thousand copies per year, world-wide. How many would we sell? Good question. How many did we sell today? Let's have a look. Forty three page loads on the Stats Counter, fifty one on Blogger's own statistics.

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