[percy-l] dead

Dye, Steve sldye at bluegrass.org
Wed Aug 3 15:26:52 EDT 2005

I just received the latest emails on this list and was particularly
moved by the message below and can offer a "second" to it - I absolutely
fall  in this camp and am thrilled that others feel the same way. I look
forward to future discussions among we "lay" folk...I have read several
reviews of Peter Kramer's new book about depression and keep thinking
about "Love in the Ruins" and wonder if Kramer EVER really read it....
-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
chaslow53 at aol.com
Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:29 PM
To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [percy-l] dead
Well, it is obviously true that the list is not as active as it once
was.  I think there are many of us (we exchange private e-mails from
time to time, where you smarter folk can't catch us) who are fans of the
novels and don't really have a great interest in the philosophy.  I'm
not sure what WP would have thought of us, but there it is.
And even of those of us interested in the novels, there appear to be two
groups.  The academics are ever eager to trace sources and influences,
but the "layfolk" are more interested in using the novels to help answer
WP's "ordinary Thursday afternoon at 4:00" conundrum: how is it that we
can spend the morning reading philosophy and history and theology and
fiction and walk away from it with no idea at all of how we are to lead
our lives after lunch?
Two historical/literary thoughts present themselves here.
* William Buckley is reported to have said that he read Moby Dick at 55
and it changed his life.  I cannot vouch for that, either that he said
it or that it changed his life.  I speak here as one who edifies, not
with authority.  What I can say is that I read The Moviegoer at 52 and
it changed my life.  I am interested in an exchange of ideas, not
necessarily restricted to that sort of reaction, of what the Percy
novels mean in the individual lives of those who read and contemplate
them.  To the extent that the novels broaden our understanding of the
"dark journey," they are valuable; they become even more valuable when
we understand how they affect others as well.
* John Henry Newman was the author of A Grammar of Assent, The Idea of a
University and a thousand papers on points of Church history and
doctrine so austere and obscure that we are staggered to this day to
contemplate his output.  Yet when he was made a Cardinal, he chose as
his motto something that showed a side of him that none of us today
would associate with him: Cor ad cor loquitur, the heart speaks to the
heart.  So, too, Walker Percy wrote novels whose message, whether in
Binx's relationship with his mother or in Tom Moore's relationship with
his second (Presbyterian!) wife or in Lancelot's pipe-clanking with is
fellow inmate, could not be clearer: cor ad cor loquitur.  
I'm not saying that this should move us to sentimental essays based not
on WP's novels but on sociological flights with only the remotest
connection.  I am just saying that there are a lot of us who read and
treasure the novels because of their expression of what Binx experienced
as "God's importunate grace" and discussions which are too philosophical
or too technical are not going to grab us, because we are neither
philosophers nor academics.  That's why you don't hear from that group
too very often.
Damn, I guess I am intent on retaining my amateur status!
Chuck Lowry
Brooklyn, New York
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