36/CHRONlCLESnVery Oldnby Tom MurraynTo us it might seem that lifenFor him growing older, grew harder:nEndlessly attending an invalid wife,nHouse-cleaning, replenishing the larder.nTuesday and Friday are his outside days.nShopping bag in hand he standsnAt windows. You can see the reflected gazenOf blue eyes measuring blends.nPrices and quantities. The yearsnHave etched the face, drawn too fine the skinnFor the mobility of hopes and fears;nHe keeps revelation within,nKnowing now that, having paid full toll,nHe has outlived his years; each fractionnOf his chronology has become one whole,nEach second an entity, no longer one sectionnLeading to another. All that’s pastnIs turned to stone. Nothing now to narrate;nThe long experiment has reached its last.nThe test-tube’s layered contents set and separate.nMemory no more can hurt. The weddednBed is history. The mongol childnThat died is forever embeddednIn a glacier’s depth. What’s gone is filed,nSealed and shut, no fingered door givingnEmotion an inch of access. No breathnOf air stirs the grassy, rutted past. By mere livingnHe has absorbed the long liberation of death.nnnpsychosexual exploration of LeonardnBernstein anticipated Arianna StassinopoulousnHufEngton’s even nastier andnmore controversial reproachment of Picasso.nWith a passionate impudence,nthe 80’s are displaying an unhealthyninterest in demythologizing yesterday’snheroes. And within this hostile environment,nwhere it pays to snoop for thenultimate putdown, Ian Hamilton’sn”search” for J.D. Salinger seems thatnmuch more inexcusable, since it sets outnto expose the life of a writer whondevoted considerable energy to securingnhis privacy. The only thing tastefulnabout Hamilton’s In Search of J.D.nSalinger is the subdued design of itsndust jacket.nIn all fairness to Hamilton, many ofnus share his fascination for Salinger.nThe rare photograph, for example,ntaken from behind as he walks up thenhill from his mailbox or returns to hisnhouse proper from his studio cottage,nhas prompted a million words on thenstate of his health and the circumstancesnof his life. If Confucius had given asnmuch thought to Salinger as Salingernhas evidently given to Eastern mysticism,nthe oriental philosopher mightnhave concluded that “he who wants tonbe the center of attention should removenhimself from the picture altogether.”nAt one point, Hamilton goes so farnas to suggest Salinger’s reason forncloseting himself in the first place maynhave been, ironically, a ploy for attention.nAt another, Hamilton assumes,nnaturally enough, that Salinger wentninto hiding because he had somethingnto hide. But beyond suggesting thatnthis “something” relates to Salinger’snserving as a “spy” during the SecondnWorld War, and “that somewhere innhis spying past there is a secret so secretnthat he now has no choice but to dwellnperpetually in shadows, in daily fear,nno doubt, of some terrible exposure,”nHamilton doesn’t even hazard a guessnas to what that “secret” might be.nHamilton has written a highlyregardednbiography of Robert Lowellnand has a scholarly background thatnwould suggest he would rise above anynludicrous desire to “dish” his subject.nHamilton insists that his mission toncapture Salinger’s life was originallynfounded on good faith. When he embarkednon the biography in 1982,narmed with a $100,000 advance fromn