Thursday, August 22, 2013

Observations on Seymour Glass

We’ve spoken before about J.D. Salinger and the impact he has had in our lives.  On a personal note, growing up, I couldn’t help but see connections between the Glass family and my own.  There were seven Glass children; we had eight.  Like the Glass family, we were headed up by a strong-willed Irish Catholic woman.  And, like the Glass children, we “were a bunch of insufferably ‘superior’ little bastards,” who to this day, can’t help but think that we are better than everyone else. 

But the biggest connection I saw was between Bob and the eldest of the Glass family, Seymour.  Both were war veterans.  Like Seymour, Bob was the oldest, and, in my view, the wisest, “the most intricately calibrated” and, had he ever appeared on “It’s a Wise Child,” like Seymour, he would have been the most rewarding to hear.

Indeed, I hear echoes of Bob in the things that Seymour said.  Not that they say the same things but they say the same sort of things – koanlike comments that end up sticking with you.  Most of these have already appeared in the blog, but here are a few.  Once when we were skiing with Bob and Marie, Marie said then when she starts to get tired, and her legs get wobbly and out of control, that’s when she comes in from the slopes.  Bob replied, oh no, I like to ski most when I’m my legs are wobbly and I’m out of control.   Or, take his observation that, not only were there plenty of atheists in foxholes in Vietnam, but God seemed to be altogether absent from the country.  Or, his reminder that it’s important to keep the crisis in Christmas.  Or, his theology:  God is so unlike anything we can imagine that perhaps the truest thing we can say about him is that he does not exist.  Or, his simply stated comment to me when I chided folks at a funeral luncheon for talking and laughing:  people can only be unhappy for so long.

Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of holy ground to the next.  At another time he said, “If I'm anything by a clinical name, I'm kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”  It’s not hard to imagine Bob here.

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