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

marcus at loyno.edu marcus at loyno.edu
Mon Feb 23 14:09:57 EST 2004

I think Mike is on the right track--or one rail of it--when
he says that the term "liberal" is tattered.  But so, too,
is the term "conservative."  The neat thing is that Percy
foresaw this disarray as far back as 1973 when he published
Love in the Ruins and satirized an America divided into
nutcase liberals and rightwing Knotheads.  

Marcus Smith

----- Original Message Follows -----
From: Mike Frentz <mfrentz_2 at comcast.net>
To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion"
<percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>, rlbecker at loyno.edu
Subject: Re: [percy-l] Percy and The Moviegoer Discussion @
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2004 23:48:14 -0500
> Rachel,
> 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.
> Mike
> 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,
> >
> > 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
> > his closure with the church by “conquering his
> > disposition.” Uncle Jules died at the Boston Club on
> > 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."
> >
> >
> > --
> >
> > 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 >
> --
> 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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