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What started out as a pastime soon turned into a hobby that turned into a passion until it eventually became a necessity. Reading is a need so beautiful that I feel I must write about it every day.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The 'Goddamn' world of J.D. Salinger.

American novelist, J.D. Salinger (1919-2010)
May it be Holden Caulfield from 'The catcher in the rye' or the members of the Glass family from 'Franny and Zooey', Salinger's characters share a disillusionment about the world they live in surrounded by 'phony' adults. Every character in Salinger's book is not your regular, conformist, loveable or (hate-able for that matter) character and they are often hard to relate too. You either love them or you don't. Period.

After being completely smitten by Salinger's controversial book 'The catcher in the rye', I was interested in exploring his other works. Franny and Zooey, a popular hit amongst this writer's fans proved to be a complex piece of work bearing the authors distinguished style of writing.

It's a hard read but at the end, its worth it. Its not a plot-driven novel, instead it is fueled by lengthy dialogues that sometime stretch to pages. In this novel, Salinger's gift of eloquent and real dialogues is exposed in all its brilliance. The dialogues are sharp, witty, honest and never boring. This is real writing in my opinion. Not a word more or a word less. 

While reading this book you get a feeling of being trapped in the freakish world of the Glass family where frustrations, contradictions and a sense of loss run high. You are absorbed into unusual settings where intense conversations take place between the main characters. Franny is the perfectly written first chapter in the book which introduces us to a pretty college student Franny Glass who is on the brink of an emotional and spiritual collapse.
"It's everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so--I don't know--not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid, necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless--and sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much as everybody else, only in a different way."-Franny
However, the reasons for her world rejecting attitude and  breakdown are fully revealed in the second and last chapter of the book Zooey. Here, we see Franny's older brother, Zooey's morbidity and humor, his sense of being doomed by their elder brothers and enlightenment. 

"We're freaks, that's all. Those two bastards got us nice and early and made us into freaks with freakish standards, that's all. We're the tattooed lady, and we're never going to have a minute's peace, the rest of our lives, until everybody else is tattooed, too."-Zooey

I was gripped by Franny in the beginning only to see Zooey steal the spotlight and be captivated by his perspectives deeper into the book.

The book is perceived by some as a religious novel, however in the words of the narrator, this offering is '... a compound, a multiple, love story, pure and complicated.' This is J.D. Salinger at his best. 

Friday, 14 October 2011


With a feeling of incredible guilt for letting procrastination get the better of me, I am writing this post while vowing to myself that from today onward, I shall write a post every week.

One of the first things I did after starting university was to get a library card made. In college we weren't allowed to issue books which led me to steal one of the novels (for two weeks only, in my defense). It was rightfully returned to its shelf once I had devoured it. :) So to prevent the burden of another theft, I quickly got my card made and the first book I issued was ''The Essential Rumi'', complied and translated by Coleman Barks.

We've all read quotations by Rumi somewhere or the other but to read a book of his poetry is another experience all together. I am half way into the book and I feel like I'm trapped in Rumi's world. To read his poetry is like going into a trance.

For those who are not familiar with this great philosopher of the 13th century; Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī was a Muslim Poet and Sufi mystic and scholar. He is one of the most widely read poets all over the world and rightly so since his work encompasses a wide array of spiritual elements and the fluidity of thought in his poetry is such that its fascinating in its simplicity of truthful narration as well as being universally appealing.

Often his poetry is a narration of events with enlightening morals. He talks about God and His prophets, his master Shams and his disciple Husam, the pleasures of silence and the longing to reunite with ones roots amongst a host of other topics which are always somehow intertwined with spirituality.

Rumi believed music, dancing and poetry were some of the ways to achieve nearness to God. This belief led him to become the founder of the 'Whirling dervishes' an act we've seen many time.

'We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.'- Rumi

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
― Rumi

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.”
― Rumi, The Illuminated Rumi
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
― Rumi
"You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
― Rumi
My earliest memory of the whirling dervishes goes way back to when I was twelve years old. A music video showing men dancing in circles with bellowing ivory frocks, eyes closed, arms raised in joy and without a care in the world just going round in round in circles captivated me. I remember standing up from the couch and mimicking the flawless rhythmic rotations of the whirling dervishes on screen. At first I went around in circles like a madman, I whirled and whirled and laughed but within a few seconds I closed my eyes and slowed my pace to the somber tune of the music. I remember feeling at peace. The reason I remember this event is because when I opened my eyes once the song ended, I saw my mom looking at me and letting out a surprised laugh.

And ever since, Ive been mesmerized by them.

The order of the Whirling Dervishes is an act of love, a means to forget this world and immerse oneself in the journey towards God. No wonder Rumi said:    
"Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absent-minded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly.
Let the Lover be."
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