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

Mike Frentz mfrentz_2 at comcast.net
Sun Feb 22 23:48:14 EST 2004


It is interesting in that this article is over ten years old, and with  
the term "liberal" being frayed around the edges even back then, I  
believe it is totally worthless now. Given its common contemporary  
usage either as a label or an epithet, I think it has lost all of its  
usefulness as a descriptor -- it has bifurcated, with the descriptive  
part and the labelling part gone their separate ways.

I'm not sure I understand your comment.  I wouldn't have read the First  
Things article as "an attack" -- at least not on Percy or his views of  
the world (if that is what you are implying).   The criticism is in the  
illogicality of those who bear "the standard" of modern liberalism (so  
to speak), not of Percy, the way I read it.


P.S. Apologies in advance for any non-responsiveness, I'll be out of  
email range for the next few days..

On Feb 20, 2004, at 4:58 PM, rachel becker wrote:

> This is taken from a website on The Moviegoer,
> http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/webdocs/webdescrips/ 
> percy1092-des-.html.
> "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
> http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9304/articles/montgomery.html
> 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."
> --
> An archive of all list discussion is available at  
> http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy/hypermail
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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