Din vis, lovit de realitate

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De Veghe în Lanul de Secară, J.D Salinger

Duh, huh?! E una dintre cărțile arhicunoscute, o operă clasică fără doar și poate. Ba mai mult, unii îi susțin capacitățile de a schimba vieți. Adolescenții americani o știu prea bine, mai mult ca și lectură obligatorie din anii liceului, dar pentru noi e cu totul o altă poveste. O citim din proprie inițiativă, sau pentru că ne-am lovit de ea prin alte citiri, am plecat urechea la referința dintr-un film, am fi primit-o în dar sau am tras cu ochiul la rafturile librăriilor.

Uite-o acolo, la o zi după ce am auzit pomenindu-i-se numele în vreun serial anume, colorată, atrăgătoare și una la număr – semn, mamă! E-a mea! N-a încântat-o ideea unei alte cărți îngrămădită deasupra altora care-și așteptau rândul la citit de ceva vreme pe noptieră. Degeaba, am câștigat!

Mi-am adunat atât așteptările mari cât și cele mici, știam că trebuie să mă las impresionată de CEVA anume, cucerită de o idee oarecare, dar nu dețineam nici măcar un indiciu a ceea ce putea însemna asta. M-a surprins. Tare de tot. M-am găsit furată de timp într-o după-masă, mi-a fost imposibil să o las din mâini. Asta poate pentru că am regăsit printre pagini părți din eul meu licean căutând cu disperare răspunsuri dar lipsind în curajul necesar de a rosti întrebări cu voce tare, ținându-se strâns de ideea și frica de a nu fi judecat de familie sau prieteni. Cred astfel că dacă aș fi citit-o în perioada adolescenței, aș fi analizat-o sau trăit-o dintr-o altă postură, una mai propice ideeii transmise.

Acțiunea și decorul sunt simpliste – iarnă în New York – iar cadrul temporal e și el liniar. Totuși, autorul cere. Îți cere să privești, să spargi suprafața, să analizezi și să-i diseci personajul creat, Holden Caufield, pentru a-i putea înterpreta gândurile și decoda intențiile.
În fapt, e povestea unui student leneș, exmatriculat și care acum încearcă să se ascundă de familie pe parcursul a 3 zile rămase până la întoarcerea acasă. În tot acest timp, Holden se dovedește a fi asemenea unei pietre în pantof (vezi pain in the a**), dureros de enervant. Leneș, încăpățânat, enervant de repetitiv, răsfățat, pretențios, mincinos, un as în procrastinare – toate astea învăluite parcă fain frumos într-un strat de ADHD.

Odată ce te aduni și reușești să-ți pui de-o parte impulsul de “Te-aș strânge de gât!”, ai să observi că sub straturile de anxietate adolescentină și alienare, stă ascunsă o puternică nevoie de angajament emoțional și un sentiment puternic de singurătate amestecat cu o capacitate puternică de a oferi dragoste (evidențiată în relația cu sora lui, Phoebe). Durerea lui nu urlă, nu dă din mâini în semn de disperare, ci stă singură, pitită, pusă în surdină de Holden însuși.

Titlul e rupt din gândurile lui Holden, e de fapt ultima lui disperată încercare de a se lega de ultima fărâmă a inocenței, a copilăriei care stă să fugă. Holden visează cu ochii deschiși la un câmp populat de copii care riscă să “cadă” în abisul maturității, iar el se vrea a fi salvatorul lor.

Pentru adolescenți, Holden e văzut ca și un simbol de oprimare. un mijloc de exprimare a sentimentului de rebeliune împotriva societății standardizate, împotriva normelor, a regulilor, a comprimării, sau orice găseam noi a fi deranjant la vremea respectivă.

Ca și adult aspirant la maturitate, ori îți place, ori nu. E greu să dai de-o cale de mijoc în ceea ce-l privește. Îi semnalizezi inteligența și detești faptul că eșuează în a se folosi de ea. În încercarea de a-l citi, te-ncearcă un duium de sentimente – de la simpatie la nervi, de la mirare la înțelegere, ca mai apoi să faci cale întoarsă la frustrare.

Dar, tocmai datorită acestui montagne russe de emoții, e bine de pus pe lista de citit, cu cât mai repede, cu-atât mai bine.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.”

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”

“It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.”

“All of a sudden, you have to walk no matter how far or how high up.”

“The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling.”

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Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger

Duh, right? It’s one of those books that everyone knows about, a classic, no doubt about that. Heck, some claim to have had their lives changed by it. American teenagers know it all too well given that it’s a compulsory high school read but for us, Europeans, it’s a whole different story. We read it solely based on our choice, because we’ve seen it referenced in another book, mentioned in a movie, we got it as a gift or we cut a glance to it on our random library trips.
There it was, a day after some TV show mentioned it yet again, a single copy of it sitting on the shelves – it’s a sign, mom! Gotta have it! She was not thrilled about it, my nightstand was piled by other books I’ve not read yet. I won though!

My expectations were mixed – high & low – I knew I was supposed to be impressed by something, but I had no clue what that was and that scared me a bit. It surprised me though. Big time. I found myself spending an entire afternoon reading it, I could not put it down. Probably because I saw parts of that old high schooler self in there, desperately seeking for answers but lacking in courage to ask the questions out loud while clinging to the idea and fear of being judged by friends and family.
To be honest, I do feel that had I read it when I was a teenager, I think I would have looked at it from a totally different perspective, and given my whole emo vibe thing going on back then, I would have most definitely turned this book into my holy grail.

Its action and setting are pretty simplistic – winter time in New York – and the time frame is linear. Still, the author demands. He’s asking you to look deeper, analyze and dissect the character he created – Holden Caufield – so that you can get to the bottom of his thoughts and decipher his intentions. Basically, this is the story of a lazy college kid who’s been expelled from his preppy school and is now on a quest to hide from his parents for the 3 remaining days until he has to go back home. Throughout this time, Holden reveals himself to be a pain in the a*s. Yep! He’s lazy, stubborn, annoyingly repetitive, spoiled, demanding, a major liar liar pants on fire, a masterful procrastinator – all of that topped with a major case of ADD.

Once you’ve put your “I wanna strangle you, Holden!” attitude aside, you’ll see that underneath all these layers of teenage angst and alienation, there’s a strong desire for emotional commitment and a sad feeling of loneliness intermixed with a high capacity to love (strongly evident in his affection towards his sister Phoebe). His pain is not screaming, it’s not waving its hands in desperation, it sits quietly, muted by Holden himself.

The title is ripped out of Holden’s thoughts, it’s his last desperate attempt to hold on to that tiny last piece of innocence, of his childhood that’s about to leave him. He daydreams about a field filled with children about to “fall” into the abyss of maturity, and he’s their wannabe savior, their “catcher”.

For teenagers, Holden is the icon of oppression, a means of expressing rebellion against standardized society, against imposed norm, rules, constriction and whatever else we found to be annoying at that time in our lives.
As an aspiring grown-up, you either like him or you don’t. It’s pretty difficult to find a middle ground. You notice his intelligence but hate the fact that he utterly fails at properly making use of it. I ended up despising him when making fun of others and his constant mockery directed at them, even when they were well intended. In your attempt to read him, you’ll be constantly overwhelmed by sympathy, frustration, awe, understanding only to find yourself coming back to that feeling of frustration.

But that’s one of the many reasons you should give this book a try. The sooner, the better.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.”

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”

“It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.”

“All of a sudden, you have to walk no matter how far or how high up.”

“The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling.”

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