[percy-l] Percy and The Moviegoer Discussion @ Loyno

rachel becker rlbecker at loyno.edu
Fri Feb 20 16:58:04 EST 2004

This is taken from a website on The Moviegoer,
"This novel explores the modern disease characterized by
alienation and ennui. The movies in which Binx immerses
himself suggest the superficiality and lack of "substance"
in his own life. Percy presents a dialectic between two
"cures." The first is stiff-upper-lip devotion to duty and
traditional Southern values, as exemplified by Aunt Emily.
The second is the mystery and irrationality of Catholicism,
as embodied by Binx's mother and the Ash Wednesday service. 
It is clear that something happens to Binx during the week
or so of this narrative. At the end he is on the move--to
medical school, to marriage. Although his motivation is not
made explicit, Binx seems to be embracing his mother's
mystery a bit more than his aunt's stoicism."

At the end of MG Binx has given up his search and settled
for a grounded life with a wife and medical school.  Kate
seems essential to Binx’s future acceptance of everyday
life, however, it is impossible to predict how long the
union between Binx and Kate will endure.  What I want to
know, is whether he remains dedicated to movie going.
 I do not see Binx as embracing his mother’s mystery and
religion any more than he is accepting Aunt Emily’s
traditions.  His marriage to Kate frees him in the presence
of Aunt Emily; it does not bind him to her society.  
The death of Uncle Jules and Lonnie parallel the death of
social tradition and Catholicism in Binx’s life.  Lonnie
found his closure with the church by “conquering his
habitual disposition.” Uncle Jules died at the Boston Club
on Fat Tuesday of a heart attack (no doubt brought about by
a New Orleans diet) and Aunt Emily is left with the choice
to either hate Binx or accept him.

Binx and Percy have similar experiences and choices. 
However, Percy is less able to let go of Catholic dogma. 
This website on Walker Percy and the Christian Scandal 
attacks Percy’s illogical liberal platform and his
misguided convictions.  I just thought it would give some
insight into Percy’s perspective.

I have pasted a portion of it here: 

   "In Washington, where he was to give the eighteenth
Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on May 3, 1989, Walker
Percy also gave an interview to Scott Walter for Crisis.
This is almost exactly a year before his death, and both the
interview and his lecture, "The Fateful Rift: The San
Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind," reflect not only his
journey up to that point, but a continuing concern for the
meaning of the journey and to a degree a continuing
ambiguity in his understanding of intellectual experience.
He still shares with Binx Bolling an amused wonder in the
presence of experience, still somewhat divided of mind as to
the dependability of immediate experience, a condition
suited to the novelist. Perhaps the point can best be
presented by noticing the divided sense in which Percy uses
the term liberal in his interview.
A problem arises in his discomfort with the liberal mind,
with which he nevertheless shares causes. "I agree with them
on almost everything: their political and social causes, and
the ACLU, God knows, the right to freedom of speech, to help
the homeless, the poor, the minorities." But the liberal
position on abortion and euthanasia is "a mystery, a
bafflement to me." Their "hearts are in the right place,"
but "they cannot see the paradox of being in favor of these
good things and yet not batting an eyelash when it comes to
destroying unborn life." 
First of all, there is a question here as to whether we are
dealing with a paradox or with a contradiction. But a more
troubling question is whether the "liberal" whom Percy has
in mind addresses the causes he accepts enthusiastically in
the same manner of intellectual deportment to those causes
as Percy does. For this "liberal" may in actuality deport
himself to good causes and bad without discrimination, so
that his attitude toward abortion or euthanasia is neither
paradoxical nor contradictory. In other words, it is
possible that one may deport oneself, even to good causes,
without one's heart being "in the right place." That is the
climactic recognition of T. S. Eliot's Thomas Becket at the
edge of martyrdom, who in horror steps back from the most
subtle treason to the soul, that is, doing "the right thing
for the wrong reason."

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