I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.
I suppose my appreciation of the Salinger quote is a sign of impending middle-age and my lack of satisfaction with myself: I don't have a "life project".
Or you could say it is wisdom, slowly seeping into my consciousness. I suppose that in the flatter world of today, where class, culture, race, even nationality, barriers are declining in influence, a world in which we increasingly grow up believing we can be anything, that absolutely anything is possible, I suppose in a world like that we all end up having the same dreams, wanting the same things. We all want to become millionaires, have big houses and the best amenities, to leave traces, to have influence, to be renowned.
What about that alternative of dying a complete unknown? Remembered only by a close circle of children, siblings, and friends - and perhaps a few colleagues here and there. Outside of that circle of, say, 20-odd, no one has ever heard of you and no one ever will.
You lived in a rundown home in an undistinguished neighbourhood, you drove a below-average car, you took the occasional above-average holiday, you went out to ordinary places. And you were proud, and you felt great. You lived it: Life.
Ahdaf Soueif (of Map of Love fame) was on Egyptian television tonight (Dream2). I was surprised when she said that a book that no one reads is a failure. She said the art of the writer is to make the reader keep reading. She mentioned several writers who took part in PalFest and she qualified each of the names with how famous, how big their readership is. She certainly seemed pleased with her million plus readership in Britain alone.
It brought to mind the little chats I had with avantcaire about whether the appreciation of the multitudes is important for art (I think so), or if a niche of ten-odd was sufficient (avantcaire thought so). Ahdaf Soueif seemed to agree with me.
Yet, because of that little Salinger seed that I mentioned above, that may or may not grow, I was less respectful of her achievement.
FYI: The secret to keep the reader reading - according to Dr Soueif - is Detail.