[percy-l] Elliott

Lawrence Rhu RhuL at gwm.sc.edu
Tue Aug 16 13:19:19 EDT 2005

Dear David,

I mentioned it with praise and plan to use it when I teach a medical humanities course next spring.  I've hardly a moment now to go on about it, but I think where it mostly differs from Percy would be in the idea of the self that you can abstract from it.  Elliott writes repeatedly about the "feedback loop" involved particularly re medical diagnoses and recently available medication but more broadly about the invasive and appropriative ways that modern media and advertising possess the self/possess us * or should I say dispossess us, often under the guise of celebrating our mastery and control.  I think he's right about all of that, but it feels different from Percy to me inasmuch as "the sovereignty of the self," however shakey, grandiose, even untenable that may be still leaves room for intuition, following hunches, etc.  I mean where does the self stand, on what ground, to know that  about the self and other selves (the feedback loop business...is anybody out of it? are some just more prone to acting like they know something we don't?  They don't convince me, even though they've got a point)?  As Thoreau puts it, one can be beside oneself in a sane sense.  Is what happens to Binx when the idea of a search dawns on him merely an illusion, an implant?  Same for Lancelot?  But I can't continue.  Life is making other demands on me now.  The readings of Percy in Elliot are terrific, by the way.


Lawrence F. Rhu
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC  29208
Tel:  803 777 0144
Fax:  803 777 9064
Email:  rhul at sc.edu

>>> dabeck at iupui.edu 8/16/2005 1:02:35 PM >>>
Someone on the this list mentioned Carl Elliott's Better than Well. If someone 
has read it and is willing to share his/her insights into it, I'd appreciate 
it (especially  how his ideas might relate to Percy). I read the description 
and thought about using it in a class next spring. So, if anyone would like to 
throw out some ideas about it, we might have a nice discussion on the book. 
(My copy just came today and I haven't had a chance to start it yet. And with 
syllabi to prepare by next week, I probably won't have time until after next 
week. But I would like to see what others think of it.)

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