Sunday, July 17, 2005

Yesterday was a fairly important day in history.
In 1945, in the isolated and windswept beauty of the New Mexico desert, the Trinity Test succeeded in creating the first human-manipulated nuclear detonation. The blast, with a yield of around 20 kilotons, was concurrently a much dreaded and sought after ushering in of the atomic age, and it happened sixty years ago yesterday.
Beside that somewhat troubling event, there was also the anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye, published originally in on the same date in 1951 by the now reclusive J.D. Salinger. I remember the first time I read that book, a tattered paperback version, during the summer of my sophomore year in high school. Its impact upon my young mind was formidable, leading me to read the thing once at least every two years up to last summer's reading.

I love the way Salinger wrote in those days, with an edge that cut the fascia from the deep muscle of life's very fist, showing the means and method for human effort and folly. The spirit of his works, especially that of the Glass family series continues to haunt me, especially in my effort to dissect the green from the moribund from my own somewhat contradictory life and morays.
I can see in my mind's eye the imposing figure of Mrs. Glass in her housecoat, slippers and ever-present cigarette perched on the edge of Zooey Glass' bathtub, lecturing him on his and his brother's mishandling of their sister Franny's delicate spiritual and metaphysical sensibilities. The lives of that somewhat irrational though incredibly lucid family seem to me intertwined with my own heart, and have become in a way, a part of my family.
Two very different events that happened on the same day in the summers of different years. Yet the power of each reverberates, in the hearts and minds of millions of people.
The power of the bomb is the puissance of life or death, war and peace, each in their own time and season because of the man's tentative power over the atom. The power of the Salinger's work is the potential of man's quest; of people's search for meaning and connection to one's own soul and those surrounding.
When might we be able to connect the two and understand the integral nature of each of our own struggles and triumphs, our wars and truces, our bombs and our books?
Perhaps when we understand the inseparability between our own hearts and minds we will be able to comprehend the connections outside of ourselves.

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