Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Holden Caulfield Syndrome

On a day when there were 3 mass shootings in America I sat in a theatre and watched "Six Degrees of Separation." One of the more remarkable parts of the play was Peter's thesis on why such a mild book as "Catcher in the Rye" became a manifesto for so many violent white men in the 20th century. Holden Caulfield's repeated mantra of labeling successful or ambitious people as 'phonies,' his sexual impotence as well as paralyzing fear around women, and his homicidal fantasies against anyone who threatened his masculinity reflects a boy's emotional understanding of the world. And yet this is NOT a manifesto used by men of color. It is a text linked specifically to white male killers who -regardless of political affiliation- represent the overwhelming majority of lone wolf terrorist attacks in this country. Today and many other tragic days feel like they are inexorably linked to all the Caulfield's of the world who bruise too easily, lash out too quickly, and seek to terrorize the world to compensate for their inadequacies. And yet they are still the most privileged demo in America who play the schizophrenic game of demanding the power of a master and the pity of a victim. To maintain such a fragile delusion requires a sociopathic level of narcissism. Those who win short-term gains through inequality end up rotting internally and raging externally. It is a unique disease: Affluenza. It has killed more people than cancer. No one is looking for a cure.

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