1.28.2010

Open Letter to those who Know

J.D. Salinger died yesterday. I was happy to see about a dozen of my friends post little homages on their Facebook pages. One of my friends wrote, "Catcher in the Rye changed things for me when I was 15." My witty but very accurate reply: "Franny & Zooey changed me for things when I was 28."

In posting my little homage, I put up a quote from the end of Franny & Zooey that made my body so cold no fire could ever warm me, that made me feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off. I can't explain it, and it won't make sense, unless you've read it. It's dialog. One of the characters says to another:
There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet?
And today I'm thinking about why it should have to be a secret. Mind you, I'm not wondering about why it has to be a secret; I'm only meditating on it. The fact is, I know why it has to be a secret. It's the strangest thing, you know. It's an open book, this secret. Few pick it up and read it. I'm not keeping the secret. I try every day to tell it. But it's amazing what some people will do to keep themselves from knowing that everyone everywhere, including those who don't know, are Seymour's Fat Lady.

And here I'm talking in shameless allegorical doublespeak, aren't I? I see that because I try to tell the secret, the secret cannot be known. The louder, the more roughly, I shout the secret--tat tvam asi!--the more it is concealed. Or perhaps, if I'm right that Salinger really did change me for things a few years ago... perhaps it can be told, if the listener listens right.


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