Teddy and Thinging


Several readings this semester have reminded me of Buddhist teachings about interdependence, awareness, etc. So, I’d like to borrow the voice of the main character from J.D. Salinger’s short story “Teddy” , a ten year old American boy who was an Indian holyman in his prior life. (Heidegger’s essay reminded me of this story especially.)

A new acquaintance familiar with Teddy and eager to ask him questions says, “I believe you said on that last tape that you were six when you first had a mystical experience. Is that right?”
“I was six when I saw everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all that,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was only a very tiny child then, and she drank her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.” [They talk a little about getting out of the finite dimension.]
“How does one get out of the finite dimension?” he asked and gave a short laugh. “I mean, to begin very basically, a block of wood is a block of wood, for example. It has length, width–”
“It hasn’t. That’s where you’re wrong,” Teddy said. “Everybody just thinks things keep stopping off somewhere. They don’t… The reason things seem to stop off somewhere is because that’s the only way most people know how to look at things. But that doesn’t mean they do.” [He goes on to discuss shedding logic and assumptions.]

Also, Heidegger’s letters to a student reminded me of this passage from the same story:
He describes what he sees out if the window of the boat. “Someone has just dumped a whole garbage can of orange peels out the window.”

Teddytook in most of his head. “They float very nicely,” he said without turning around. “That’s quite interesting.”

“I don’t mean it’s interesting that they float,” Teddy said. “It’s interesting that I know about them being there. If I hadn’t seen them, then I wouldn’t know they were there, and if I didn’t know they were there, I wouldn’t be able to say that they even exist.”…

“Some of them are starting to sink now. In a few minutes, the only place they’ll still be floating will be inside my mind. That’s quite interesting, because if you look at it in a certain way, that’s where they started floating in the first place.”

“After I go out this door, I may only exist in the minds of all my acquaintances….I may be an orange peel.”

3 Responses to “Teddy and Thinging”

  1. saetazen Says:


  2. ??? Says:

    omg sooooooooooooooooooooooo awesome heheheheheheheheheheheheheehehehehe

  3. manwhorres Says:

    ha i love that :) it made my day

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