We are all going to Hell: J.D. Salinger’s ‘uncleaned’ toilet up for sale.
Today I planned to survey fresh debate over the future of bookstores, or perhaps the censorship scandal at the Teen Lit Festival in Texas, where popular YA novelist Ellen Hopkins was disinvited after a librarian (!) noticed her books feature addicts and prostitutes. Then I saw Salinger’s toilet.
“J.D. Salinger’s Personally Owned and Used Toilet Commode–Purchased From Salinger’s New Hampshire Home!” If you think I’m joking, check out the ebay listing. You can make a bid, or you can buy the thing outright for a cool million bucks.
This is the tipping point for Western Civilization, just as a remarkably similar event 2,000 years ago was for the Romans.
It’s not widely known, but Gibbon, in an obscure footnote in Vol. IV of his classic history, dates the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire to 19 A.D., when Ovid’s towel, still soiled from his last visit to the public baths, was auctioned in the central market of Tomis, a city in Scythia Minor.
The parallels between Ovid and Salinger are as striking as those linking the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy. Both writers were popular and critically acclaimed. Both wrote works accused of being vulgar and obscene. Both lived out their lives in exile — indeed, Scythia Minor was the New Hampshire of the Roman Empire.
Coincidence?!? I think not.
Gibbon dates the public sale of Ovid’s towel (listed for 100 denarii, it actually went for three sesterii, a bag of walnuts and a small goat) as the point at which the frivolous pleasure culture of the Imperial elite infected the merchant classes, thereby initiating a downward swirl of decadence that eventually flushed Roman civilization into the polluted stream of history.
Likewise, the sale of Salinger’s toilet marks the moment at which celebrity worship utterly dominates Western Civilization.
It’s only a matter of time before Snooki becomes the first woman elected president of the United States.
How much will Salinger’s personal toilet go for? It’s hard to say. Cormac McCarthy’s Olivetti typewriter fetched $254,500 last December. Of course, McCarthy wrote many of his most famous novels on the machine.
Not to be outdone, the toilet’s purveyors exult:
“This is the toilet that was personally owned AND used by J.D. Salinger for many years! It sat in his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, and was installed in the ‘new wing’ of his house. When he died, his wife inherited all of his manuscripts with plans to eventually release some of them! Who knows how many of these stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne!”
May I just say: Ewww.
But it gets better, and by “better” I mean worse. The commode comes with a letter of authenticity from Joan Littlefield, who, along with her husband, bought and remodeled Salinger’s house, removing the toilet in the process. What’s more:
“This vintage toilet is from 1962 and is dated under the lid. It will come to you uncleaned and in it’s original condition when it was removed from Salinger’s old home.”
Some things defy further commentary.