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J.D. Salinger is dead.  

Amazon.com is involved in another dispute concerning its Kindle software/hardware.  

Salinger was a recluse for the majority of his importance to American literature. Kindle takes some of your favorite literary works and converts them so they can be read on your iPhone, Blackberry, et al. Because The Crucible is best imagined while deciding whether or not you should text your jealous ex-boyfriend.  

I’m inclined to leave my feelings at that. Because I think that says it all.  

But I am opinionated. And verbose. And I believe in Art.  

I actually prefer pumpernickel!

 

We are already on a dangerous road. This road has already been paved. And the signs already dictate our destination.  

I have now seen every art form, aside from cave paintings, perverted by this technological race we’ve embarked upon.  

I repeat, J.D. Salinger is dead.  

Of course, I say. He was 91. Big deal.  

Kurt Vonnegut died nearly 2 years ago.  

Arthur Miller went in 2005. John Updike, nearly a year ago. Hell, even Michael Crichton is dead.  

Stephen King once said that one of his favorite things is the smell of the pages of a book with its spine freshly cracked.  

It is a fine smell, indeed, Mr. King.  

What have we left? Does an iPod have a scent? What does a Blackberry smell like? The device, not the fruit.  

I don’t know. And I don’t care to know.  

Salinger’s death hasn’t dealt any particular blow to the literary world. He was a hermit, after all. But his passing has made headlines, a fact which surprises me. I can only assume it’s because of his enigmatic nature. And probably because everyone has read Catcher in the Rye.  

Regardless, I am likening all of this not to the death of an individual but the death of an era – of an art form.  

Artists are aware of the way their intended audience is going to receive their art. For centuries, novelists have used the power of the page and adapted to it. No matter the strength of the tide, there have always been authors who really knew how to use that medium.  

Short stories have become a thing of the past because no one reads magazines or periodicals anymore. I don’t know how many American authors honed their skills, and supported themselves, through these means. Kurt Vonnegut often made mention of the fact that he pretty much had to start writing novels because, even in the ’50s, short stories were a dying market.  

If Hemingway were still living, he would be 111 years old. If A Farewell to Arms were still living, it would celebrate its 81st birthday this year.  

For what it’s worth, our socially-irresponsible and borrowed culture has produced an inordinant amount of brilliant novelists, essayists, dramatists, et al. Even the works of some of the not-so-good-but-popular (see Crichton or King) have translated to film very well.  

Not to put too fine a point on it, I am not thrilled by the idea of e-books. In fact, the “e-” prefix has always frightened me a bit. I’m not a tech-guy. I like the smell, the feel, and the sight of the printed word.  

And really, this is just another death in the long, long limitless line of deaths.  

…I’d rather curl up with my billionth-pressing copy of Catcher in the Rye and let everyone else think about the hell that’s being bestowed upon the literary world.  

Convenience is propaganda.

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4 Comments

  1. “Because The Crucible is best imagined while deciding whether or not you should text your jealous ex-boyfriend.” Clearly this is true. There’s nothing like the words of Arthur Miller getting interrupted by a Black Eyed Peas ringtone of “Tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” It certainly wasn’t a good night for John Proctor. Of course, I probably shouldn’t really talk, because I read philosophy while watching TV sometimes, even though it feels wrong.

    Not only is convenience propaganda, so is this crazy notion of “progress.” Why is technology a sign of progress? My life isn’t improving because of any of this shit. In fact, I think it’s making it worse.

    -Heidi

  2. I just need to point out that my comment about “jealous ex-boyfriend” isn’t meant to be sexist. Not that I’ve never been accused of being sexist. I think I just know more girls who read regularly than guys, so I stereotyped from my own experience.

    No one suggested this. I’m just clarifying, because upon re-reading it, I thought it might come off as a derogatory comment toward women.

  3. hey don’t you think it’s ironic that you wrote this on a computer?

  4. titles are easter eggs.
    Iam aware of the irony…


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