[lit-ideas] Re: Salingeriana
- From: "Donal McEvoy" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "donalmcevoyuk" for DMARC)
- To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2017 06:48:29 +0000 (UTC)
Well, Salingerapparently suffered from ‘clinical depression,’ the NYT notes. I
neverunderstood ‘clinical’ there. It seems otiose.> >I think I agree.>
Some might think the "I think" otiose. It may not be because it has a more
tentative or polite sense than "I agree".
In "clinical depression", the "clinical" seems to imply it is depression of a
medically recognised or diagnosable type. The problem is whether there is any
kind of depression that is suffered but not medically recognised or
diagnosable? Arguably, there is a self-diagnosis of "depression" that would not
be accepted as anything beyond normal feelings of disappointment and occasional
unhappiness etc. by a medical professional, and so would fall short of clinical
depression. This would be enough to give "clinical depression" its purchase as
a phrase where "clinical" is not just otiose.
See "The Clinical, The Cynical and the Cylindrical: Why Clinical Depression,
Cynical Fouls and Cyclindrical Tumble-Dryers aren't adjectivally otiose"
From: "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, 23 September 2017, 0:34
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Salingeriana
We are referring to Salinger andwhat Dylan (that’s a Nobel Prize) calls,
hyperbolically, “The Age ofMasturbation,” _sic_ in capitals. McEvoy: “I
know[Dylan is being hyperbolic], it’s his type of humour. Hyperbolic, yes.
His"humour", yes. But he is also serious.” This reminds me of apassage about
how Griceian Salinger can be, as per the NYT. Let me see if Ifind the passage.
“Salinger … perfectedthe great trick of … irony — ofvalidating what you mean by
saying less than, oreven the opposite of, what you intend.” This is an
obituarist writing, and a Griceian one at that.Grice found irony difficult to
deal with in terms of ‘conversationalimplicature,’ but not impossible. His one
example being: i. He is a fine friend. of someone
meant to be a scoundrel. He notes that ametaphorical expression, like ii.
You’re the cream in my coffee. while standardly meaning
‘you’re my pride and joy,’ can “combinewith irony” to mean, “You’re my bane.”
But back to the NYT quote: “Salinger … perfectedthe great trick of … irony
[i.e.,] ofvalidating what you mean by saying less than, oreven the opposite of,
what you intend.” Grice would stick with the _opposite_.In terms of Witters’s
Tractatus: “p” and “~p”. Rogers Albritton, who attendedthe second William James
lecture, held a conversation with him, and the resultwas that in his THIRD
William James lecture, Grice came back to the topic ofirony. To be ironic, it
is not just sufficient that, by uttering x (where xmeans p) U is being ironic
if and only if U means that ~p. Grice gives theexample: iii.
Look! That car has all its windows intact! which only HARDLY will be
construed _ironically_ to mean thatthe car has a crashed window. “Irony,” Grice
appeals to the etymology of thisGrecian term of art, has to do with ‘pretense’,
and an affective attitude needbe involved (as in the “fine friend” example).
So, when the obituarist writesof Salinger: “Salinger … perfectedthe great
trick of … irony — ofvalidating what you mean by saying less than, oreven the
opposite of, what you intend.” In Griceian parlance would read: Salinger was
keen on irony,i.e. the uttering of utterances by which Salinger has his
characters meaningTHE OPPOSITE of what they _explicate_. Clumsy, eh? For saying
LESS than whatyou mean, Grice has ‘disimplicature’ – with ‘implicature’ being
meaning MOREthan what you say. All pretty confusing, and which reminds one of
Alice’s MadTea Party (“Of course I say what I mean!” “At least I mean what I
say!” “Notthe same thing a bit!” “You might just as well say that you eat what
you see isthe same thing as you see what you eat!” “It IS the same thing with
YOU!”). Actually, I don’t think Caulfield is THAT ironic. Oscar Wildewas!
(and coincidentally, Wilde, like Dylan, spoke of onanism: “it’s
clean,practical, and you mean the nicest people.”). McEvoy goes on: “[Dylan]
does believe we are in achanged 'age' I think, as, for example, the very title
(with its hyperbole andhumour) "Modern Times" suggests (and as the contents of
that greatrecord confirm).” Perhaps he is ironizing onCharlie Chaplin?
Oddly, the NYT has Salinger beingcuckolded by Chaplin. That was when Oona
O’Neill, Salinger’s girlfriend, was attending all the fashionablenightclubs
with her friends Carol Marcus and GloriaVanderbilt and was chosen as "The
Number One Debutante" ofthe season at The Stork. It is then when she decides to
pursue a career inacting and, after small roles in two stage productions,
headed for Hollywood,where she was introduced to Chaplin, who considered her
for a film role. Thefilm was never made, but O'Neill and Chaplin began a
romantic relationship andmarried in June 1943, a month after she had turned 18.
Apparently, she criedwhen she read “The Catcher in the Rye.” Butback to
Dylan. McEvoy: “[Dylan] thinks there issomething profound being lost by the
direction of most mainstream modernculture - it's all over his work: "I know
that nobody sings the blues likeBlind Willie McTell". Dylan would not likely
let mere flippancy goon permanent record as part of his interview for the
_Biograph_ compilation. Iagree his view [of his being The Age of Masturbation]
is somewhat exaggerated,and would add that some of Dylan's views are slightly
weird: the truth ismainstream culture has always had strong tendencies to aim
for the lowestcommon denominator and to promote fashions over depth - we may
recall Bach wasdismissed by the subsequent generation as the Old Fusspot.
Dylan knows all this and he viewed the mainstream culture of his formativeyears
with the considerable suspicion (as shown by "Subterranean HomesickBlues") -
but I think he also feels that 'cultural forces' (for want of abetter term) are
even more against creation of a genuine work of art than whenhe was young.
Taking other of his remarks, Dylan sees the problem as dueto, or reflected by,
how the 'self' (in its worst sense) has become excessive focusof the
individual's life.” Mmmm. ‘Self’ seems to bea necessary condition for the
analysis of ‘personal identity’. The sense maynot be a ‘good’ one, but it’s the
only one ‘self’ has! Incidentally, Salingerbecame a bit of an anti-self
philosopher after “Catcher.” Some of hisbiographers regard this as a very
serious matter, but his daughter says thatSalinger would adopt the latest fad.
McEvoy re: Dylan: “Idoubt he is alone in this. It represents an important
line of thought, centralto much ancient wisdom (where "Know thyself" always
meant somethingantithetical to its modern counterpart "Focus on yourself"):-
avariant of this view is central to the work of a former head of the
AmericanPsychological Association, Martin Seligman, where it reflects a
quitemainstream and well-tested view within psychology - for example, it is
used tobegin to explain the otherwise shocking fact that, despite continued
materialimprovements in the course of the twentieth century, the risk of
depressionincreases markedly the later in that century an individual was born.”
Well, Salingerapparently suffered from ‘clinical depression,’ the NYT notes.
I neverunderstood ‘clinical’ there. It seems otiose. McEvoy: “This ties in
with the Prozac remark re: HoldenCaulfield, which indeed shows how he may be
very differently received to thedecade in which "Catcher" was first published.
But the dismissal ofHolden in this unsympathetic way is surely a symptom of
INCREASED 'self-based'culture rather than a LESS 'self-based' one.” I think
I agree. McEvoy: “The remarkreflects a lack of empathic understanding. There
is almost a near solipsism interms of thinking what is fashionable or current,
in experience or in terms ofreferences, creates an adequate and clever platform
for examining work from thepast. That line, “Oh, we all hate Holden. We just
want to tell him, ‘Shutup and take your Prozac.’” says so much about a kind of
contemporary attitude.While it is intended to be somewhat caustic and funny, it
is probably not saidas self-parody or with any deliberate irony. Like Bach,
Holden Caulfield hasbecome another old fusspot to people who regard themselves
as from a muchcooler school.” Agreed. Part of thecharm of “Rebel in the
rye,” is, as the NYT points out, that Strong – the director– following this
hagiographic bio he was able to get the rights for – takes Holdenas Salinger’s
‘alter ego.’ This plays well as far as we can trace STRONGsimilarities in their
backgrounds --. And so on. Cheers, Speranza
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