Religion & Spirituality

Why did Seymour glass killed himself in a perfect day for bananafish?

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2009-06-14 09:07:40
2009-06-14 09:07:40

"Buddhism in its various forms affirms that, while suicide as self sacrifice may be appropriate for the person who is an arhat, one who has attained enlightenment, it is still very much the exception to the rule." -Encyclopaedia of Religion "...Suicide is salvifically fatal in most cases, but not for the arahant since he cannot be motivated by desire..." (Wiltshire 1983 pg 134) Seymour Glass was probably an arhat; probably enlightened. He had studied, absorbed and wrestled with various religious doctrines (from Christianity to Hinduism to Buddhism) from a very young age. Along the way, he also versed his siblings (with the help of Buddy) in all of the different divinities and gods man has known. Also, there's the element of Seymour as the 'artist-seer', whose eyes must be under terrible strain from the beauty of his own creations and life. Buddy writes, in Seymour; an Introduction, that this is surely the reason why any great artist dies. Of course, he was, as Buddy also recognises, attractively unbalanced, so this may have been a factor, or the entire reason that he pulled the trigger. For all his greatness and love, he just wasn't what the world calls, a 'picture of mental health'. However, Seymour didn't go anywhere, ultimately. All of his siblings are still suffering, to differing extents, from the fallout of his act, as Seymour was every real thing to them. The question we're left with is this; if Seymour felt it unnecessary to stay alive because he had reached enlightenment, does it excuse him from leaving his family to muddle through (he didn't finish what he started), and (as this was not a normal situation; Seymour was a spiritual guide) find their own way in their different paths to salvation? This is from a different perspective: In Franny and Zooey, Salinger's most enlightened work, Zooey warns his mother about putting Franny into analysis. He says, not meanly but meaningfully, Remember what analysis did for Seymour. Seymour was Bessie's "most finely-calibrated son." Seymour, like many geniuses, artists, and spiritually enlightened persons, was highly sensitive. He was living in the dark ages of psychotherapy, in a culture of materialistic reductionism and scientism, an age that did not--and still does not--understand how enlightenment worked. Seymour said that every fat lady listening to them on "It's a Wise Child" was "Christ himself." And that everyone was that fat lady. Salinger may be a Jew by birth, but his understanding of Jesus and what he was is extraordinary. Freud was a Jew, but an atheistic one--someone who did not understand any of the great spiritual masters, although he was interested in Moses, to his credit. It would take someone like Carl Jung, an enlightened analyst, to begin to help Seymour. Did Seymour need help? Of course he did--he was great, but he was human too. It seems pretty clear in F & Z that Buddy (and, probably Salinger himself) held the benighted analyst somewhat responsible for pushing Seymour over the edge. Seymour had his dark side, as we all do. He did not commit suicide out of his possible status as an arhat. For that matter, we know that he taught the bodhisattva vows to his younger siblings, so he may have been a bodhsattva. Perhaps there will always be a mystery in this. In Raise High, in his diary, Seymour notes that his beloved Muriel makes him happy, but he does not make her happy. He did love her. Perhaps he was making her more and more unhappy, and divorce was not enough of an answer. Then, too, we can see that Seymour was an introvert. Freud totally pathologized introverts; it would take Jung, an introvert himself, to set value on both sides, the yin and the yang. To some extent introverts are still pathologized, as noted in the book The Introvert Advantage. To try to make Seymour something he was never going to be would have been very distressing to him. Seymour's suicide is perhaps a cautionary tale of things we have to look at in our shallow, materialistic culture.

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