Or: Douglas Hofstadter on Symbols of Selves
What was the nature of the “Holden Caulfield symbol” in J. D. Salinger’s brain during the period when he was writing Catcher in the Rye? That structure was all there ever was to Holden Caulfield — but it was so, so rich. Perhaps that symbol wasn’t as rich as a full human soul, but Holden Caulfield seems like so much of a person, with a true core, a true soul, a true personal gemma, even if only a “miniature” one. You couldn’t ask for a richer representation, a richer mirroring, of one person inside another person, than whatever constituted the Holden Caulfield symbol inside Salinger’s brain.
— Douglas Hofstadter, I Am A Strange Loop