The life and death of the great writer JD Salinger is testament of life imitating art. Quite clearly Salinger hated growing old and therefore a ‘responsible adult’. In the book he wants to be a noble warrior a saviour of children but is persuaded not to do this. In a way it is like the tale of Don Quixote a man who loses his mind and decides that he needs to go out and do some heroic deed but ends up being mad and deluded.
With Catcher in The Rye he seems to want to be a grown up adult but needs to cling on to things that inspire a youngster. In a way its the gamblers template especially a gambler who likes to play roulette or horses seriously. By initiating an attempt to overturn maths a gambler is in denial. Looking to find the ‘edge’ that makes them invincible breaking the ‘bank’ and inevitable destroying the turf/casino accountants.
To be a gambler is to be a youth in a fight with the reality of growing up and trying to deny that process. Look how a gambler will shout at a screen with a horse race on it or shout at crap dice to be the number that will make them a rich. Luck is a whore and as the song goes ‘…luck be a lady tonight…’. The book Catcher In The Rye deals with paid for sex as a gambler treats luck – a needy but amoral process.
Some will say that JD Salinger summed up the teenager culture which exploded in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I tend to the belief that it represented the mind set of a gambler in the pursuit of dreams over reality.
While the death of Salinger will be raked over for weeks and weeks another side of cultural life was launched onto society – Abba has now got a theme park, why! Abba represents soppy dreams of a perfect world, where everyone is nice even in marital break up. No one is horrible or bitter just resigned and accepting. If Catcher in the rye represented alienation and dysfunction then Abba represent unbridled hope and passivity. Somewhere in the middle lies the path of truth.