Thursday, December 6, 2012


"I love that old phone with a passion. It was the only real property Seymour and I ever had in Bessie's entire kibbutz. It's also essential to my inner harmony to see Seymour's listing in the goddam phone book every year. I like to browse through the G's with confidence."

-Buddy Glass, explaining why he doesn't want his old phone disconnected four years after his brother Seymour's death. Franny and Zooey, By J. D. Salinger. 

I love the quote above so much that I used it to begin one of my chapters in The Empty Room. It really gets at the point that though the people we love cease to physically exist when they die, there is a sense of continued connection. And because of that, it's hard to imagine ever, say, erasing said loved one's contact information--now, alas, unusable--from one's address book.

Or, since we're now in an era when phone books may soon become defunct themselves, erasing Facebook and LinkedIn pages. We like some reminder that our people were here--and why shouldn't we? The idea that love and connection ceases when the physical bond does is absurd.

Along these lines, it occurred to me, awhile ago, that I could Google my brother. And it was in pursuing this occasional past time that I happened upon some really weird bookmarks, so to speak, of his presence.

Here's what I found: A Facebook page. And a book on Amazon. Both in my brother's name. Both seem to have somehow been generated by Wikipedia (where he also has a page--mostly generated from my book, it seems).

I suppose I should be happy that he's been noticed and noted by someone besides me, that others know he existed and find him interesting. But my first reaction, I must say, was more along the lines of WTF? A fan page?

Maybe it's because these marks of his presence were not made by me, not controlled by me. Buddy, after all, was ostensibly the one who placed and renewed Seymour's listing in the phone book. So, it could be just a case of mineminemine.

With the advent of public sharing in the form of Google, Facebook et al, we both gain the ability to browse well beyond the phone book with confidence with regard to lost loved ones. But we also lose a little bit of control, too. Now, everyone gets to browse them with confidence.

Or maybe it's because I know that he'd be so (so) pissed. Ted hated the media interest he generated. As unusual as his life was, he really was not interested in how it fit into some bigger picture. When people suggested he write about it, he'd say: "I have to live it, why should I write about it?"

Maybe he'd have felt differently if he'd lived beyond the experience somehow. But he didn't.

I'd love to finish with some deep kicker...some great insight on life after death on the internet, or real life characters who become fictional ones on the internet after their death. But, for now at least, that's all I've got.

That and the simple fact that writing about Franny and Zooey makes me want a chicken sandwich like the one Franny asked for at the beginning of the book. And my older brother back. Just like Buddy.

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