Last night I ate the most delicious grapefruit. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this in class, but I have a real sense for grapefruit. I buy a 15 pound bag of them at Costco every Saturday and, as I eat them during the week, it becomes crucial to choose the one specimen from the large bag that is at its zenith of ripeness, sweetness, and juiciness.
While other people have their own techniques for making this selection, I have no techniques per se, just a special sense. I take the heavy fruit in my hands and gently press my fingertips into its slackening skin. The pressure and warmth releases the faintest peppery aroma of citrus oils, which I savor briefly. I gaze at the slight gloss of the skin and appreciate the almost reptilian texture of the mottled pink and yellow husk. I take a moment to feel. And it is at that moment that I know whether this is the perfect fruit.
This idea of perfection is more complicated than you might think. (Or maybe not.) It has to do with the fruit, yes, but also the moment, and my own inconstant preferences. Experiencing the perfect fruit is a function of the fruit’s actual flesh, but also of time, and my state of mind. All three of these very complex systems must converge in order for true transcendence to occur.
Well, I have a knack for choosing the best fruit of the bunch. I just have a sense about it, and I’m always right. Even if you have the “knack” as I do, though, it doesn’t guarantee transcendence. See, there’s always that pesky “state of mind” thing. There are probably people in this world who have a better fruit-eating attitude than I do, for example, and they therefore increase their chances of having a special fruit experience because they’re so much more open to it, and so much less desperate than me.
But last night my mental state was prime, the fruit was sound, and perfectly ripe. As I was sitting there eating the perfect grapefruit, at the perfect moment, in the perfect state of mind, I thought to myself, I’m going to write about this on the blog tomorrow.
Then I thought about all those students who keep complaining that it’s too hard to find on the blog a description of what we actually did in class that day, which is the main reason why there even is a blog. And then I thought, Mmmmm, grapefruit. Good times.
If you weren’t in class today, you need to spend 10 minutes crafting a letter to Holden. At the end of the book, Holden is sitting alone and thinking in a hospital room in California, wondering what he will do next and missing all the people he has ever known. Now that you’ve read the book and you know Holden so well, write him a letter telling him what you think he needs or wants to hear. If you thought Holden was lame, chew him out. If you liked him, ask him out. It’s up to you. Just write and think for 10 minutes and hand it in.
After that, we finished the worksheet that we started on 2/22. You may have downloaded it on that day. If not, I’ll post it again at the end of this message. Today we filled in the right-hand column with questions about Catcher in the Rye. Keep in mind that literal questions are those whose answers are found in the text. Inferential questions have answers from the clues in the text plus your own reasoning. Evaluative questions use info from the text, plus your own educated guesses, plus your own judgement based on your life experience and outlook. The point of this activity is to come up with a couple of interesting evaluative questions to get us started on our Catcher essays. If you missed today, fill out the right hand column with the best questions you can think of and hand it in so I can mine it for good writing topics.
Download: Catcher questions worksheet