Jerome: Ruth Ruth (1996)
Anything worth wanting to know is probably unknowable in the first place. It’s the element of mystery that makes worthwhile stuff worthwhile. And I’ve been attracted to mystery since I was old enough to want to know anything. I must enjoy being suspended in that place between knowledge and ambiguity. I’m too logical for faith; illusion is my only home.
And then I’ve always enjoyed a good self-destructive impulse. Achievement is not enough. Any artist worth his or her weight in magic must be willing to light the fuse and walk away while the audience looks on in horror. On a generous day, I can attribute this to a need for balance – beauty needs terror, creation needs destruction, blah blah blah. But on clearer days, I fear this impulse may simply be residual juvenile angst, a cocktail of hostility meant to punish everyone for no good reason at all.
Can we admit that Salinger acolytes are hopeless melancholiacs who revel in their states of arrested development? Like Holden, we have decided that it’s probably better to be lonely and troubled and ornery than it is to be a goddamn phony. It’s a reactionary position, cynicism. A hardened shell to protect the overly sentimental idealist whose been burned a few times.
Well, whatever. I can sit and think about all the reasons why I love Salinger’s published work, and all the reasons why I love the Salinger myth, and all the reasons why I hope that we finally get to read what he’s been writing all these years, and all the reasons why I hope there’s some clause in his will that calls for all his unpublished manuscripts to be burned or discreetly shredded or extravagantly blown up, and all the reasons why I hope – more than anything I’ve ever hoped for – that someone actually respects his goddamn wishes, but honestly, any answers I’d arrive at would more than I really want to know.