Literature lets you down.

Brilliance, is often unsatisfying. Literature lets you down.

Local NPR today had a book critic on today, talking about his experiences. Plugging an event tonight at the Kansas City Public Library that plugs some book.

I don't really have anything against literature, or reading - on the contrary, I wish I did it more. Unfortunately, when I read my personality usually leaves me somewhere a third through, with the book underneath a pile of things. Those things usually being things that should really be disposed of as what some people call "Trash".


A caller today was expressing frustration at how underwhelming he found The Catcher in the Rye, and was answered with comments on how the book was a controversial and seminal work in literature, particularly for young adult writing. That being true, the caller did not hang up sounding of a different mindset than when he started dialing.

I think that what the caller (we'll call him Mr. Green), was experiencing was something strangely typical of brilliance, and of art. A dive into what I like to call "The Great Nothing". If you've read A Farewell to Arms, or even worse, Ethan Frome (oh god), you've felt The Great Nothing. That hollow, slightly pissed off feeling that makes you want to look on the back cover and see if that's really the end. And yes, it is really the end.

First of all, we oughtn't really be surprised. Crazy people make the best artists, and vice versa. Hemmingway did choose to have a shotgun for lunch one day, after all. But aside from that, I think it's what occurs when smart people - brilliant people, even - take a look at the world, and simply do not see the redemptive value of it all. That more often than not, things just end. There are no grand exits, boy does not always get to have, or keep, the girl, and often people just walk off into the rain.

Call me depressive, but that sounds pretty much like real life to me. People who disagree, I think, fall into that old mind game of gratification. How we permanently seek our own interests. Now, that doesn't mean people can't act altruistically. But I no matter how selfless your actions, your mind will find a way to make it feel good in the end. You will probably forget about the sunburns and sand in your eyes, and just remember the sea. Not the atrocious ex you were there with.

So The Great Nothing is elusive, yet omnipresent. It is woven into the fiber of your being, but erased from your mind the moment you look away. Which is what makes capturing it in words so brilliant. And so arduous. And so full of wanting to burn those damn bound words. Reading Rainbow was a lie, because reading doesn't just bring you creepily animated butterflies and rainbows - a lot of times, the good stuff brings you down.

But that's what makes it good.

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