Percy and Sentimentality

James Piat piat1 at
Mon Mar 11 08:27:53 EST 2002

Dear Steve,

We've kicked this very passage about more than once  --and profitably I
think.  I've always been a bit on the odd side of the argument  --imagine
accusing Percy of the very sentimentality he is railing against.  But
reading your comments now  --in the context of 911  --cautioning ourselves
against these impulses in this context --in this moment, I find myself
comforted by your post and the memories of earlier comments to the same
effect made by others.  And so --I think you've expressed the caution and
the observance well. Sentiment without sentimentality.

Righteousness is an act not a sentiment.  And somehow the act is supposed to
comfort others not primarily oneself.  But I like the way you've put it.
And the proof (as far as I'm concerned) that you got it right is that
although you are questioning yourself  --you are comforting me. --and so I'm
reminded also,  not to be so damn satisfied with myself.

And with you also I look to hear other comments from other voices

oh yeah I recall some of our earlier discussion included reference to
Flannery O'Connor  --not one to suffer fools or the self righteous gladly.
But of course poking the pretense out of others balloons is (as I think you
so rightly point out) something best left to those with a deft hand, a light
touch and a clear sense of their own complicity  -- and , oh of course a
sense of humor like Percy and O'Connor.

But all of this is mostly to say hi, thanks and hope others will comment.

Best wishes,

Jim Piat
----- Original Message -----
From: "Parlin, Steven" <PARLINS at>
To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion"
<percy-l at>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2002 11:40 AM
Subject: [percy-l] Percy and Sentimentality

> Hey folks,
> Last night, after watching the 9-11 special broadcast, I got into a
> discussion with a friend about the danger of sentimentalizing history. I
> in over my head I think because, unlike Percy, I wasn't able to clearly
> articulate the distinction between sentimentality and sincere observance.
> have an intuitive sense of what Percy means when he says in Lost in the
> Cosmos that we humans are, among other things, "sentimenal and violent, or
> rather sentimental therefore violent", but I can't quite flesh this idea
> in clear terms. Does anyone want to take a whack at this?
> Steve
> --
> An archive of all list discussion is available at
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at <>.

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