[percy-l] gays, biblical authority and Percy's language theor y

Parlin, Steven PARLINS at culver.org
Tue Aug 19 22:07:19 EDT 2003

Thanks, Doug....don't know if its perfect pitch or not, but I had fun
writing it. 

-----Original Message-----
From: mitchdl at email.unc.edu [mailto:mitchdl at email.unc.edu]
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 11:35 PM
To: "Percy-L@"@email.unc.edu; Literary and Philosophical Discussion;
Subject: Re: [percy-l] gays, biblical authority and Percy's language

I've just now awaking from the Long Sleep of the list.  Unfortunately, 
I awoke into the groggy confusion of the digest message format and 
spent most of my time trying to figure out what the heck was going on 
(where's the coffee?).  
Anyway, I got that sorted out and just read Steve's take-off on Lost 
in the Cosmos--hilarious stuff.  The interviewer is pitch-perfect.

This may have already come up in somewhere back in those 
indecipherable digests, but I thought I'd throw out my take about 
homosexuality, angelism/bestialism, and our estrangement from 
First, divorced from the proper end of our physical/sexual nature, sex 
is something to be enjoyed, experimented with, manipulated in Ye Old 
Bayou Love Lab.  The overly abstracted scientific mind hovers over the 
varying combinations of flesh and monitors responses, etc. (all while 
feeling a response within himself that makes him want to get jiggy 
with the nearest nurse).  
It is the fact of pregnancy, birth, paternity/maternity, student 
drivers, etc., that grounds us in the mundane, connects sex to birth 
(and death) and returns us to our mortality and the conditions of our 
existence.  Donne's lovers will find themselves changing diapers soon 
enough--not as an accident, not as a choice for some charming Russian 
baby, but as an outgrowth of the act itself--its very nature.  

Homosexuality (particularly as a cultural phenomenon) is connected to 
the aesthetic realm (the Gay Eye, guys who can match socks) because it 
is intrinsically linked to the desire of all lovers--eros without time-
-false transcendence.  Needless to say, writers and artists of all 
stripes feel the same desire keenly.  

Read this way, Lost in San Francisco is another version of one of 
Percy's institutes--with happy-slappy by night (beast) and tastefully 
arranged chinese landscapes by day (angel)--with the artist in place 
of the scientist as abstracted intellect.  

Certainly gays/lesbians are not alone in this.  Our desire to separate 
sex and procreation dominates most everywhere.  The difference, 
however, as is said over and over, is that homosexuality by its nature 
separates the two.  A gay man might recover meaningful selfhood to a 
great extent, but it is in spite of his sexuality (or use of it); a 
straight man frequently achieves 'reentry' through fruitful marriage--
as my wife might say, through submission to the nature of things (yes, 


Postscript:  When I started working with the Percy Project, I was 
finishing grad school at Chapel Hill.  I'm now slogging about in south 
Alabama at the University of Mobile--a Baptist school which would be 
the perfect setting for a Percy novel (Jesus Christ--Greatest Pro of 
Them All).  

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Parlin, Steven 
To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion' 
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2003 3:09 PM
Subject: RE: [percy-l] gays, biblical authority and Percy's language 
theor y --

Karey, I am imensely interested in Percy's language theory, and I hope 
to resume that discussion either concurrently or a little later. But, 
I am also matters of eathly concern. On the one hand, inquirey into 
theory is exciting, fun, and even necessary. Let's roll up our 
sleaves. But, let us not become like that scientist Percy mentions in 
Lost in the Cosmos who spends all of his time in the abstacted orbit 
of theory never being able to successfuly achieve re-entry. 
Homsexuality, among the many deviant sexual behaviors, is one of the 
most odd behaviors in the Cosmos. I think it's worthy, even necessary, 
to wrestle with this...especially since it's impossible to ignore it. 

in fact, this is my point...It's really only possible to entertain the 
idea of homosexual marriage when we are in orbit and lost. We have 
lost our moorings. The center is not holding. We really don't 
understand ourselves -- We are indeed the strangest of cosmic 

[For fun-- I adapted the below dialogue from a few excerpts  in Lost 
in the Cosmos] 

Interviewer: Are you more confused about sexuality than any other 
phenomenon in the Cosmos? 
Subject: What do you mean? 

Interviewer: I mean... gay marriage? C'mon. 

Subject: I don't follow...what's wrong with it. It's no different than 
any other marriage. It's all about love after all. 

Interviewer: Love? Is sex necessary for love? And, is marriage a 
necessary arrangement for love? Isn't marriage primarily for ensuring 
the health and well-being of family life; that is, for having and 
rasing children...obviously homosexuality... 

Subject: Well...if you mean do gay lovers need to get married, no they 
don't. .  

Interviewer: If there's no real need, then why the fuss? Homosexuals 
have been "loving" each other for centuries. Why now the need for 

Subject: Ceremony, validation, recognition...they have rights you 
know. And why not? 

Interviewer: Why? 

Subject: Why not? 

Interviewer: I asked you first. 

Subject: Well...there's nothing wrong with it, and they deserve the 
same benefits as other married couples. 

Interviewer: Such as. 

Subject: Taxes...health care... you know 

Interviewer: I see. 

Subject: They have rights. 

Interviewer: I see. Just like two friends living together. Why not 
call that a marriage too? 

Subject: No...that's different. 

Interviewer: How?

Subject: Well...two friends aren't a couple; they aren't in love. 

Interviewer: Hmmm...so the state should only give benefits to people 
who are in love. 

Subject: No...not just in love...committed. 

Interviewer: Friends can be committed...so can brothers...sisters... 
I'm even committed to my cat.  

Subject: But that's different. 

Interviewer: How?

Subject: Well... homosexuals love each other in a special way. 

Interviewer: You mean they please each other sexually. 

Subject: No...they're "intimate". 

Interviewer: I see...how do you measure that? Even though I'm not 
sleeping with him, I'm probably more "intimate" with my best friend 
than a lot married men and women. 

Subject: It's different. 

Interviewer: Perhaps....but how? Can you explain it? 

Subject: No...but... I mean...It's still perfectly natural. At least 
as much as heterosexual marriage. 

Interviewer: Perfectly natural? 

Subject: Yeah 

Interviewer: Can you explain why it is that men and women exhibit 
sexual behavior undreamed of among the other several million species, 
with every conceivable sexual relation between persons [or animals] or 
with only one person [their self] or between a male and female, or 
between two male persons, or two female persons, or two males and one 
femaile, or two females and one male; relationships moreover which can 
implicate every orifice and appendage of the human body and which bear 
no relation to the reproduction and survival of the species? 

Subject: No. 

Interviewer: Odd isn't it? Is this sort of behavior natural? 

Subject: I dunno...but heterosexual desires...well, some of those 
aren't exactly "natural" either. 

Interviewer: True, heterosexuals can be just as depraved. But then 
isn't that why marriage is so important for helping to keep these 
behaviors in order... if for no other reason than for the sake of 
rasing children? 

Subect: Perhaps....but there's still nothing WRONG with homosexual 

Interviewer: That's another mattter... But what about the children? 
Isn't child-reering natural AND necessary? 

Subject: Yeah... but homosexuals can adopt. In fact, they can adopt 
children that heterosexuals have discarded. 

Interviewer: Hmm...that's an interesting point, and a shame that there 
are some children who need to be adopted...but aside from not knowing 
what affect this would have on children, isn't it obvious that without 
heterosexuals there wouldn't be any children at all? No next 
generation.  No one to adopt? 

Subject: Science is changing all that. 

Interviewer: I see. 

Subject: And, I never said that homosexual marriage should replace 
heterosexual marriage. 

Interviewer: No, but we still haven't figured out what homosexual 
marriage means...how is it different than any two people living 
together.  Moreover, I was making a point. That is, I was illustrating 
that marriage is necessary for raising children. 

Subject: Government is changing all that. 

Interviewer: I see. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Karey L. Perkins [mailto:karey at charter.net]
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2003 2:25 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: [percy-l] gays, biblical authority and Percy's language 
theory --

No -- I'm certainly no moderator!  But I am fascinated by the fact 
that gays and Biblical authority have garnered so much response, but 
Percy's language theory doesn't get much interest?  There's so much he 
left unfinished and so much to investigate.  If he had lived longer, I 
think something tremendous might have come out of it -- like, the 
answer to, what is the interpretant?  He died before he could solve it.

So, here's what I would discuss if I had the choice...

What is the interpretant?

Why did he use triangles instead of triads, even when a good argument 
was given against it?

What did Susanne Langer drop that he picked up?  (I believe he says 
what it is in one place, but I lost it somewhere)


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Parlin, Steven 
To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion' 
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 10:52 PM
Subject: RE: [percy-l] West Wing 


Because some of my replies that contradict Karey are not showing up in 
inbox, I assumed (wrongly it seems) that I had angered her (isn't she 
moderator?), and that she was preventing my postings from going to the 

I owe you an all an apology...but especially Karey. 

Please forgive my presumption.

I'm an ass.  


-----Original Message-----
From: David Alan Beck [mailto:dabeck at iupui.edu]
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:45 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] West Wing 

Why are we getting triplicates of your posting??

On Thu, 14 Aug 2003, Parlin, Steven wrote:

  [NON-Text Body part not included]

David Beck                                         


An archive of all list discussion is available at

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

An archive of all list discussion is available at 

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy 



An archive of all list discussion is available at 

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

An archive of all list discussion is available at

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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