Department of Yo: Serial Ego Killer.

Via Karl Saliter
on Apr 16, 2012
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"Seat" Paper, Ink, Glue, Chair.

I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else’s.
J.D. SalingerFranny and Zooey

Is there any escaping this relentless cyclical windstorm of different-colored attempts to appease the ego?

I don’t know from experience, but from what I’m given to understand, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The tunnel out of my deeply personal Alcatraz, apparently, can be dug by sitting and doing nothing.

At first glance, a cakewalk. But somehow, the stumbling blocks to simply sitting, breathing and listening for whatever is next are as omnipresent as babies on a flight. (I expect one in each ear, as a rule). When the thought of getting my meditation on crosses my mind, it is rarely alone.

Companions of the idea to meditate range from remembering that I must check my email right this second to needing to go for a run, all the way through to maybe it’s time to fix a little something in the way of a snack. So what’s a well-informed but poorly practicing aspirant to do? Well, it was either a Vipassana retreat for me, or make some art about it.

The art wins, so far.

“Serial Ego Killer” is an installation I’m putting together, and it needs your participation. Give me your best quotes on meditation, and if they rock, I’ll write them down on a torn up envelope, and make them into art. It started with the chair above. It is exploding now onto large pieces of plywood and who knows where it will finally take shape. It is, of course, another form of ego gratification.

Just because I’m choosy about what I want—in this case, enlightenment, or peace, instead of money or prestige or fame or any of those things—doesn’t mean I’m not as egotistical and self-seeking as everybody else.
J.D. SalingerFranny and Zooey

At this point the more astute among you will be asking “Hey! What’s with the Salinger fixation, and morover, the Franny and Zooey fetish?” Well I’m glad you asked. “Franny and Zooey,” besides being the best book ever, is also the jumping-off point for the quotes all over the chair inspiration. Though it’s been a decade or so since my last reading of it, my deep love for this work is alive and well. In it, J.D. gives one of the most achingly beautiful descriptions of spiritual struggle ever to be typed. Know a better one? Please, clue me up. Meanwhile, yeah, I’m loving the dude. Sam Harris too of late, but I think that’s for a different article.

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. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful, reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.
J.D. Salinger

And if you are asking, “Who is this guy, as an artist?” then thanks for the question. I work with whatever I can get my hands on, but mostly, stones and steel. One of the places I seek in my work is the crossroads where substantiality and insubstantiality meet. This piece is “A Good Egg,” my most recent large-scale work, completed last month in Akumal, Mexico.

In the “Serial Ego Killer” project, I want to bring all of my attention to making something that moves people, me and others, into inaction. If you take my meaning. Maybe get beyond the finite confines of  perpetual normalcy. For a sec. And I want your voice in it. So what do you say?



Editor: Lynn Hasselberger


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About Karl Saliter

Karl is a circus artist sculptor writer miscreant gypsy, living in Mexico. He has written two novels, "Compassion's Bitch," and "Breakfast In A Cloud," and has published neither. He often feels as if he was born under a silver whale of a frisbee moon in the back of a red cartoon pickup truck. That careening down route 66 at speed, he leapt up into the cab, took the wheel, stuck his baby elbow out the rolled-down window, and that though the truck had awesome chrome mirrors, he never looked back. He hopes you frequently feel the same.


20 Responses to “Department of Yo: Serial Ego Killer.”

  1. "Just relax, breathe deeply, and experience each moment, non-judgmentally, as it’s happening, no matter what is happening."

    "What if I experience judgment?"

    "Experience each judgment non-judgmentally, as it's happening."


  2. amy clay says:

    my ego is wanting to say something really clever – that will rock everyone else's comments out of the water. but then i gag on the pretense and instead reach for something banal and anti-cool. that too is an ego rub. in fact anything i add is trite, cliche or boringly pseudo profound.

    anyway – here goes: ego is……… raising waves on a windless sea.

    so sue me!
    ps. another excellent column karl!

  3. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks, Bob! I love it.

  4. karlsaliter says:

    I love the quote and will use it Amy! Gracias Amiga.

  5. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  6. Dude, what's with the Salinger fixation? Hah! Well, as an equally Salinger-fixated person who is also hoping to kill my ego a bit more, loved this. Thanks.

  7. ValCarruthers says:

    Meditate? Or make art? Or make one into the other over and over, rolling 'em into dough, till the seams don't show.

    Aced it again, didn'tcha, Karl.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  8. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks Kate! I just broke down and took Franny and Zooey out of the library. Its time for a curl up!

  9. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks you for that picture, Val. Funny timing as I just came from watching my friend teach an art class where she was doing precisely that, rolling clay slabs into tubes, on her way to creating a ceramic rhino. It was cool to witness, and fun to be audience. I love this little series because it is exactly that. As I transcribe the quotes onto pper, I am learning and exploring. There is a breath in tearing the paper. Maybe.

  10. Andréa Balt says:

    I'm meditating right now (as I type this) trying to think of a quote that doesn't require any thinking.

    Posted to "Featured Today" on elephant culture.

    Andréa Balt, editor elephant culture.
    "Like" elephant culture on Facebook.
    Heart ele culture on Pinterest
    Follow @MindfulCulture on Twitter.

  11. maru says:

    Wonderful article…!

    However I disagree with Salinger in the part of his quote that reads "… as egotistical and self-seeking as everybody else". Even though my faith in the human race is almost none, I know for a fact that not everybody is egotistical and self seeking. There are some amazing diamonds in the garbage, beings that make this world -thank God- a place worth to live in.

  12. karlsaliter says:

    That's awfully close to a workable quote as is, chicka.

  13. karlsaliter says:

    "Diamonds in the garbage" Awesome! Sri Dharma Mittra comes to mind, and my mom.

  14. elephantjournal says:

    I'm SO in. Your rock, Karl. xoxo

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  15. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks for that, Tanya!

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  17. […] that invitation to slow down Trungpa Rinpoche introduced [1] the theme of seeing ego’s games as the first step toward entering the path of the buddhadharma. In these early talks Rinpoche smiled […]

  18. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks very much! I've been too wrapped up in this project to write this past week, but I hope to get back to the keyboard soon. Your encouragement means a lot to me.

  19. […] was reading “Franny and Zooey” in the tree, for me Salinger’s masterpiece. I am preparing to mail the book to Samantha and her, I can say this, husband, Monday. Unable to […]

  20. […] from Alaska to Florida while the forest burns all around you can wreak havoc with anyone’s ego. Let alone a silly little man like […]