Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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J. D. Salinger

1919 – 2010 CE

Something about the writings of J. D. Salinger captured the imagination of the 1950's and 60's and continues on today. He helped bring into Western culture more of an appreciation for authenticity, genuineness, and the idea of being true to oneself. His life intersected with and influenced many famous people of his time. He dated playwright Eugene O'Neill's daughter (who left him to marry Charlie Chaplin), socialized with actresses like Anne Bancroft and Audrey Hepburn, and studied with spiritual teachers like D. T. Suzuki. He became a serious Zen student, studied Lao Tzu, Sufi mysticism, yoga, and Vedanta. Authors who cite him as a major influence include Haruki Murakami, John Updike, Philip Roth, Louis Sachar, Tom Robbins, and many more. After a brief experience with fame, Salinger returned to his Lao Tzu-influenced roots of inscrutable privacy and anonymity.

Eras

Sources

Catcher in the Rye

Franny and Zooey

Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Unlisted Sources

Franny and Zooey​

The Catcher in the Rye

Quotes by J. D. Salinger (54 quotes)

“It is my rather subversive opinion that a writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years.”

Themes: Anonymity

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“The true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“The true poet has no choice of material. The material plainly chooses him, not he it.”

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“What about your beloved Epictetus? Or your beloved Emily Dickinson? You want your Emily, every time she has an urge to write a poem, to just sit down and say a prayer till her nasty, egotistical urge goes away? No, of course you don’t! But you’d like your friend Professor Tupper’s ego taken away from him.”

from Franny and Zooey​

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“Everything's a rabbit hole.”

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“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to.”

from The Catcher in the Rye

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“If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don't watch it, you start showing off, and then you're not as good any more.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot... What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“I think I'd have found out a lot sooner if we hadn't necked so damn much. My big trouble is, I always sort of think whoever I'm necking is a pretty intelligent person. It hasn't got a goddam thing to do with it, but I keep thinking it anyway.”

from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Sex Confusion

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“the funny part is, I felt like marrying here the minute I saw her. I'm crazy. I didn't even like her much, and yet all of a sudden I feel like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her.”

from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Marriage

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“The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they'll say he has an inferiority complex and if they don't like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they'll say he's conceited. Even smart girls do it.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“you don't have to be a bad guy to depress somebody—you can be a good guy and do it. All you have to do to depress somebody is give than a lot of phony advice.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true... People never notice anything.”

from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Truth

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“Even if you did go around saving guys' lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys' lives, or because you did it because what you really wanted to do was be a terrific lawyer, with everybody slapping you on the back and congratulating you”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“I can never really get sexy—I mean really sexy—with a girl I don't like a lot. I mean I have to like her a lot. If I don't, I sort of lose my goddam desire for her and all. Boy it really screws up my sex life something awful. My sex life stinks.”

from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Integrity

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“Take most people, they're crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and... if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that's even newer... I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.”

from Catcher in the Rye

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“I'm not afraid to compete. It's just the opposite. I'm afraid I will compete... Just because I'm so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else's values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn't make it right. I'm ashamed of it. I'm sick of it.”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Competition

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“Everything that everybody does is so—I don't know—not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless... And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much as everybody else, only in a different way.”

from Franny and Zooey

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“I'm just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else's. I'm sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished... It's disgusting”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Ambition

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“all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.”

from Franny and Zooey

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“a state of being where the mind knows the source of all light... the saints, the arhats, the bodhisattvas, the jivanmuktas who knew something or everything about this state of being... we wanted you to know who and what Jesus and Gautama and Lao Tzu and Shankaracharya and Huineng and Sri Ramakrishna, etc., were before you knew too much or anything about Homer or Shakespeare or even Blake or Whitman, let alone George Washington and his cherry tree... or how to parse a sentence”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Enlightenment

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“I wish you'd get married. [Mrs. Glass]... I like to ride on trains too much You never get to sit next to the window any more when you're married. [Zooey]”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Marriage

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“I don't want you to go away with the impression that there're any—you know—inconveniences in the religious life. I mean a lot of people don't take it up just because they think it's going to involve a certain amount of nasty application and perseverance”

from Franny and Zooey

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“I got the idea in my head—and I could not get it out—that college was just one more dopey, inane place in the world dedicated to piling up treasure on earth... I mean treasure is treasure, for heaven's sake. What's the difference whether the treasure is money, or property, or even culture, or even just plain knowledge?”

from Franny and Zooey

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“As a matter of simple logic, there's no difference at all, that I can see, between the man who's greedy for material treasure or even intellectual treasure—and the man who's greedy for spiritual treasure.”

from Franny and Zooey

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“You never even hear any hints dropped on a campus that wisdom is supposed to be the goal of knowledge... knowledge should lead to wisdom, and if it doesn't, it's just a disgusting waste of time!”

from Franny and Zooey

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“you're beginning to give off a little stink of piousness. God damn it, there isn't any prayer in any religion in the world that justifies piousness.”

from Franny and Zooey

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“At least I've never tried, consciously or otherwise, to turn Jesus into St. Francis of Assisi to make him more 'lovable'—which is exactly what 98% of the Christian world has always insisted on doing.”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Christianity

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“Scratch an incompetent schoolteacher—or, for that matter, college professor—and half the time you find a displaced first-class automobile mechanic or a goddam stonemason.”

from Franny and Zooey

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“Jesus—the best, the smartest, the most loving, the least sentimental, the most unimitative master— realized there is no separation from God... who in the Bible besides Jesus knew—knew—that we're carrying the Kingdom of Heaven around with us, inside, where we're all too goddam stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look?”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Sacred World

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“An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's.”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Art

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You can say the Jesus Prayer from now til doomsday but if you don't realize that the only thing that counts in the religious life is detachment, I don't see how you'll ever even move an inch. Detachment, buddy, and only detachment. Desirelessness.”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Integrity Desire

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“don't hate me because I can't remember some person immediately. Especially when they look like everybody else, and talk and dress and act like everybody else.”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Forget Memory

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“If you're a poet, you do something beautiful. I mean you're supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page... It doesn't have to be a poem, for heaven's sake. It may just be some kind of terribly fascinating, syntaxy droppings...”

from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Poetry

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“Surely the one and only great poet the psychoanalysts have had was Freud himself; he had a little ear trouble of his own, no doubt, but who in his right mind could deny that an epic poet was at work?”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“Isn't the true poet or painter a seer? Isn't he, actually, the only seer we have on earth? Most apparently not the scientist, most emphatically not the psychiatrist.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Science

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“Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Leadership

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“we are being sentimental when we give to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it... God undoubtedly loves kittens, but not, in all probability, with Technicolor bootees on their paws.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“a Zen master was once asked what was the most valuable thing in the world and the master answered that a dead cat was, because no one could put a price on it.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Wealth

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“I'll champion indiscrimination till doomsday, on the ground that it leads to health and a kind of very real, enviable happiness. Followed purely, it's the way of the Tao, and undoubtedly the highest way.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“the fact that the great Kierkegaard was never a Kierkegaardian, let alone an Existentialist, cheers one bush-league intellectual's heart to no end, never fails to reaffirm his faith in a cosmic poetic justice, if not a cosmic Santa Claus.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“there is very evidently one rather terrible hallmark common to all persons who look for God, and apparently with enormous success, in the queerest imaginable places—e.g.investigating loaded ashtrays with an index finger—he very frequently behaves like a fool, even an imbecile.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“he was either as brief as a gatekeeper at a Trappist monastery—sometimes for days, weeks at a stretch—or he was a non-stop talker.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“a good amount of first-class Chinese poetry has been translated into English, with much fidelity and spirit, by several distinguished people; Witter Bynner and Lionel Giles come most readily to mind.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“the dangers of prolonged contact with any poetry that seems to exceed what we most familiarly know of the the first-class are formidable... Used with moderation, a first-class verse is an excellent and usually fast-working form of heat therapy.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Medicine Poetry

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“Zen is rapidly becoming a rather smutty, cultish word...Pure Zen, need I add—will be here even after snobs like me have departed.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“Yet a real artist, I've noticed, will survive anything. (Even praise, I happily suspect.)”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Warriors

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“Perhaps Mad Shelley wasn't quite mad enough. Assuredly, in any case, his madness wasn't a madness of the heart.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“however presumably lofty the intellectual, moral, and spiritual heights we've all reached, our gusto for the lurid or the partly lurid (which of course, includes both low and superior gossip) is probably the last of our fleshy appetites to be sated or effectively curbed.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

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“The miracle of Chinese and Japanese verse is that one pure poet's voice is absolutely the same as another's and at once absolutely distinctive and different.”

from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Paradox Culture

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