Flusher in the Rye

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain 1917 (one of the first ready-mades)

J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was one of my favourite books as a teenager and, as with many of my reading generation, had a subtle non-conformist influence on my attitudes growing up in the usual kind of family and boring suburban environment of Sydney in the late fifties and sixties. I remember discovering the book in the library at Fort Street Boys’ High during my lunch break and trying to supress my laughter while devouring it there.

Thus I enjoyed the following recent spoof in the ‘The Diary’ section of the Sydney Morning Herald (20/8/2010):

“If you really want to know the goddam truth, the news that old J.D Salinger’s toilet is up for auction on crumby ol’ eBay just about kills me. It really does. I’m not horsing around. A month ago they wanted the film rights, now this. It’s not as if old JD was terrific as hell or anything. But just on account of the fact he was some hotshot author and all, now about a half a million jerks have their hands up in the air hollering like phonies for this crumby ol’ throne. Boy it irritates me. The auction, that is. I mean they’re shooting some ol’ crap about how the shipping is free and all, and how you get some crumby letter from some phoney named Joan Littlefield who owns his old goddam residence in Cornish. But what really knocks me out is the price. $US 1 million ‘or your best offer’. For a john. People depress me. They really do. I mean it. I have this corny ol’ dream with all these bidders coming through this big field, charming as hell, right up the lip of this giant bowl, and over they go, and I’ve got this terrific chain, and I pull it, and I get to flush away all this crap. Boy. That Littlefield. What a phoney. I wouldn’t mind catching her in the rye. I swear to God. Sincerely,
Holden Caulfield”

[As to Duchamp’s Fountain shown above, perhaps a comment Duchamp himself made about his readymades might be appropriate here, given post-Dadaist tendencies to find some purely aesthetic rationale for the Dadaist explosion of traditional art forms:

“I would like to particularly stress one point, namely that the choice of these ready-mades was never dictated by a sense of aesthetic pleasure. The choice was based on a reaction of visual indifference and the complete absence of good or bad taste…in fact complete anaesthesia.”

– translated from Hans Richter, Dada – Kunst und Antikunst, p. 93. One might remember that Dada was born in the civilisational collapse that was the First World War.]

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 23, 2010.

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