Dead Authors

J.D. Salinger has passed away. At last, I can read The Catcher in the Rye.

I cannot bear the odor of live authors, the intrusive contamination of the masses, the business of corporeal exchange. I cannot bear the stench of commercial possibility, the propaganda of the breathing, the leveling dialogue of a politically consumed public. I prefer the musty, quiet air of brittle, aged books--the mournful atmosphere of life and thought that has ossified into works of enduring literature.

The masses cannot consume that which endures. They can only ingest the utilitarian, words that can be conveniently digested into nutrients and refuse. The common man's constitution cannot bear individual, substantial ideas, for he has been bred to maintain brute existence rather than craft character.

Individual ideas do not withstand time in the sense that they are enduring objects--in the sense that they can stand alone. But we, as readers, can open a dialogue with works of character, materializing the damp odor of their spirits, and I, for one, have never been able to maintain that dialogue until years and decades have eroded the sickening, refreshing breeze of the common and insubstantial.

No reader with a keen sense of smell can read live authors.