Hornswaggler | The culture, the humor, a bit of the sports, not so much the politics, and the workplace distraction

Hornswaggle is an alternate spelling of hornswoggle, an archaic word that means to bamboozle or hoodwink. I take my pronunciation from the late Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles" --

"I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, conmen, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists!"

Culture, Humor, Sports
Workplace Distraction

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Oh man. Now I'm listening to the "Mike's Song" off Phish's "Hampton Comes Alive." Don't even get me started on Phish and all the misconceptions about this band within the mainstream. Don't you worry. Just confirm your tickets to the Enrique Iglesias concert at the Douche Arena and go on your merry way.

OK. I'm starting to get bellidge, so I'm going to switch gears.

Literature Note: It's funny how, in reference to my previous post, "The Catcher in the Rye" was so mysterious when I first read it following 8th grade. It had to be explained to us that Holden was telling the story from a sanotorium, as if it were some mystery. It's self-evident now, reading it as an adult, which brings me back to the question: What were we supposed to get out of it? I recently reread "The Great Gatsby," another great american novella I read while hitting puberty. Yeah, I'm sure that I fully grasped that one as well.

Anyway, it's clear Holden is telling the story from a sanotorium of some kind on the West Coast following a sort of nervous breakdown, sharp downward spiral, that he suffers upon leaving school early (since he was kicked out) for Winter Break. He's planning on going back to school in the fall. Who, exactly, he's talking to, without doing any further research, remains unclear. Is it a therapist? Maybe. He mentions a psychoanalyst at the institution where he's staying in the course of his narrative and it seems odd he would have two separate analysts. On the other hand, the person he's talking to seems to be an authority figure. Whatever. Holden's problem is that pretty much everything depresses him. He's too sensitive for his environment. He sees through too much and is affected too strongly by the macho (teenage) behavior by which he's surrounded at school and the "phony" behavior he encounters in general (Notice his love for the ingenuousness of children and how that relates to his ideal "occupation," being the catcher in the rye and preventing the innocent kids from "falling off the cliff.").

His former teacher Antolini, whom he visits and is freaked out by at the end, fears that Holden is descending into madness. Speaking to Holden, he says: "This fall I think you're riding for -- it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom ... The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with."

"This whole arrangment" = madness. He's talking about someone who, distressed and malnourished by his or her environment, descends into a world of fantasy. A few pages later Holden starts to suffer from a kind of psychosomatic illness and begins, as he's walking, to ask for help from his dead brother, Allie, to keep him from "disappearing," or being submerged by the waves. He doesn't comprehend it, but instinctually he senses he's plunging into the unknown.

As far as Antolini's analysis is concerned, the following quote seems to imply that, if Holden can only make it past the cruel vicissitudes of youth and into adulthood, he'll be okay (or at least, not insane): " ... they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with [meaning]. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started." That is, they despaired of reality and took flight for fantasy before they became adults and figured out what the hell was really going on.

And finally it's Holden's kid sister Phoebe who rescues him. Her dedication to and love for him bring him back to earth and he decides to face the facts, and reality, by going back to confront his angry, sad and disappointed parents. Perhaps it's the fact that Phoebe is willing to take the plunge with him that snaps him out of his feverish flight from reality.

Finally, did I read somewhere that someone is trying to make "Catcher" into a movie? Good Lord, I hope not. How badly will they butcher it? Let me guess, Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke will be at the helm. Please make the bad man stop.

.: posted by hornswaggler 6:25 PM

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