I'm reading Franny and Zooey because when I was on a date at the movies, I saw there's a Salinger movie coming out. I'd read Catcher In The Rye recent enough to move to it. I think the movie is going to be stupid, because the guy just wanted his art to speak for himself, and people kept doing crazy things in the name of his book. To be so colossally misunderstood, is quite tragic.
I was reading Franny and Zooey, and I was thinking about how Franny was being Holden Caulfield like, in that everyone was a phony. And you could see how someone who was alienated, would really identify with the character. But I think he's doing it for a reason. I don't really know how deeply Salinger got into Buddhism, but he obviously knows a little about Buddhism. DT Suzuki was big in NYC at the time. Salinger later moved towards Advaita Vedanta.
Franny is experiencing the first noble truth, that life is suffering. And she's reaching for more and she talks about The Way Of A Pilgrim, which I've yet to read.
Franny keeps talking about how everyone is ego ego ego. Now, I think that can be a pretty superficial understanding of Buddhism, though in the beginning of the journey you can notice how colossally self involved everyone is, but then you just can't look at that sun too long because it hurts, and you turn away.
I read a lovely post by Danny Fisher about how your practice isn't even really about you.
I know you don't have to read every book mentioned by an author to understand a book, but there are clues into which traditions the book is placing himself. And I think Salinger is pointing to a kind of transcendence, the path to lead from suffering.
Unfortunately, the internal dialogue of alienation, does not necessarily point to a solution. We all find out own solutions, if it's drugs, or art, or family, science or religion. I think he captures a visceral disgust for the world amongst adolescents. To have adolescents read him and not have the keys to transcending alienation, hopefully challenges them to find a key to transcending alienation. I have a book on alienation on my shelf that I haven't read, a cast off from a friend's philosophy past.
As I've said before appropriating culture to your own purposes is part shady and part business as usual.