Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction
Isolation Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
I intend very soon now - it's just a matter of days or weeks, I tell myself - to stand aside from about a hundred and fifty of the poems and let the first willing publisher who owns a pressed morning suit and a fairly clean pair of gray gloves bear them away, right off to his shady presses, where they'll very likely be constrained in a two-tone dust jacket, complete with a back flap featuring a few curiously damning remarks of endorsement, as solicited and acquired from those 'name' poets and writers who have no compunction about commenting in public on their fellow-artists' works (customarily reserving their more deeply quarter-hearted commendations for their friends, suspected inferiors, foreigners, fly-by-night oddities, and toilers in another field), then on to the Sunday literary sections, where, if there's room, if the critique of the big, new, definitive biography of Grover Cleveland doesn't run too long, they'll be tersely introduced to the poetry-loving public by one of the little band of regulars, moderate-salaried pedants, and income-supplementers who can be trusted to review new books of poetry not necessarily either wisely or passionately but tersely. ("Seymour" 1.9)
It's a fairly well known bit of gossip that Salinger is a famous recluse who hasn't published anything since "Hapworth, 16, 1924" in 1965. Maybe here we have a glimpse into his reasoning? Just how much of Salinger's own self went into the character of Buddy is a lively and fascinating debate.
For the terrible and undiscountable fact has just reached me, between paragraphs, that I yearn to talk, to be queried, to be interrogated, about this particular dead man. It's just got through to me, that apart from my many other - and, I hope to God, less ignoble - motives, I'm stuck with the usual survivor's conceit that he's the only soul alive who knew the deceased intimately. 0 let them come - the callow and the enthusiastic, the academic, the curious, the long and the short and the all-knowing! Let them arrive in busloads, let them parachute in, wearing Leicas. The mind swarms with gracious welcoming speeches. One hand already reaches for the box of detergent and the other for the dirty tea service. The bloodshot eye practices clearing. The old red carpet is out. ("Seymour" 1.18)
This passage leads us to believe that Buddy doesn't actually want to live in isolation. It's possible that his writing so extensively about Seymour is really just his way of communicating with the world, yet at the same time keeping himself somewhat protected and detached from it.
(O happy hepatitis! I've never known sickness - or sorrow, or disaster, for that matter - not to unfold, eventually, like a flower or a good memo. We're required only to keep looking. Seymour once said, on the air, when he was eleven, that the thing he loved best in the Bible was the word WATCH!) ("Seymour" 1.23)
This brings us back to Buddy's earlier discussion of eyes, as well as his claim that the true artist is a seer and dies from the things he has seen.