[percy-l] LITR

Karl M. Terrell kterrell at sheastokes.com
Fri Oct 7 14:44:12 EDT 2005

* * This communication is CONFIDENTIAL * *

Re: single-point and multi-point perspectives, do you see parallels to
the experimentation with psychedlic drugs during the 60s as a breaking
away from the former?  I refer not to a glorification of illegal drug
use, but to a brief (historical, I believe) period when young adults and
a few others, using LSD, marijuana, etc. as tools in a positive and
creative way, were attempting to break free of the restraints of what I
think you refer to as 'single point perspective.'  Of course, it was
doomed to failure, as we live resolutely in an spp world, and because
drugs are bad for your health, but .... some vestige I believe of this
experimental non-spp thinking (if you will) lives on, and has been
advanced as a force in our culture.  Some aspects of this, as in the
arts, and as applied to philosophies/practices on how to live your daily
life, have been to the good, and some aspects not.  

Perhaps my own fleeting passage through this history explains part of my
attraction to Percy. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Tommy Armstrong [mailto:tfa at brickengraver.com] 
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 9:21 AM
To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion'
Subject: Re: [percy-l] LITR

"But I will be all right as soon as I get home and take my drug, which
is the best of the consciousness-expanding community-simulating self
integrating drugs"

When Rich mentioned that essay I of course had to go and pull it off my
shelf and that is what I had underlined from it (among other things). I
kind of think it sums up a great deal of the insight and humor that is
present throughout Percy. He brings views of the world from a truly
different vantage points. That is his strength both then and now--an
extra-consumerist vantage point, an extra-science vantage point, an
extra-political vantage point. 

I once took a course in college a long  back named "Beththoven and
Revolution" by an incredibly smart and gifted professor named Dr. David
Green. In it we explored we explored all kinds of seemingly disparate
things like the Renaissance, Chinese Scroll Painting, the structure of
Bethoven's string quartets and symphonies, Lao Tsu, Confucius, Sartre,
etc. And let me not forget Mahler--that prof had listened to a Mahler
piece every day of his life for 10 straight years--something of an
expert on him. The one overriding thing that tied them all together was
essentially vantage point.
When that sculptor, forget his name, discovered (or created) (or
rediscovered) single point perspective, and created those famous
cathedral doors it changed Western Civilization forever. Now it was
possible for people to study the natural world, for they could do it
from a single point of reference. Things can be measured and quantified
and mapped. And thus began linearity. 

The novel was one of the consequences of that type of perspective as was

Without that discovery by an artist at the beginning of the Renaissance
(in fact who started the Renaissance), there would have never been
science as we know it. 

The Chinese, however never discovered spp--and they had a view of the
world much closer to how humans actually see the world--multi-point
Scroll paintings do not exhibit spp. We Westerners now look at them (and
all art prior to spp) as somehow inferior, or at least, not as
But the fact is that the human does not see like a camera--the ultimate
tool and demonstrator of spp. Even as we walk to the bathroom and take a
tinkle, our vantage point constantly changes, and not only our vantage
point but our area of focus literally hundreds of times. 

Now what I am saying is not that science and technology is not useful,
but this whole rational view of the world presupposes the validity of
spp being the "correct" perspective. But it is definitely not hardwired
into the human brain. In fact it was never even existent before those
doors on that cathedral were created. It took only a hundred or so years
to become hardwired into our culture--but not in our being. And there
perhaps is the genesis of schism of science and humanity. For what is
natural for a homo sapiens --constantly seeing the world from different
vantage points and areas of focus--and what is natural for the
culture--seeing the world from a single point of view--something to be
measured, classified, and dissected, are really at odds with each other.

Tommy Armstrong
PO Box 484 
Lillington, NC   27546
...with the method of science one beholds what is generally true about
individuals, but art beholds what is uniquely true.
Walker Percy
Signposts in a Strange Land

-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Gray, Rich
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 9:45 AM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: [percy-l] LITR

Percy wrote the essay "Notes for a Novel about the End of the World"
while he was writing Love in the Ruins.  A common theme to both works is
the blessing of cataclysm, which jerks people out of their tranquilized
routines.  In their comfortable routines, Percy thought people --
Catholics as well as other believers and agnostics -- were callous
toward God.  

Tom More opens the novel in a serious rut: rejected by his wife,
dependent on alcohol, and largely unsuccessful in his psychiatric
practice.  His concern for the decay of America and his invention of the
lapsometer mark his attempt to throw off his stupefying midlife tedium.
Then the comedy kicks in.  Tom with the lapsometer seems like Don
Quixote with his lance -- they have a winsomeness, yet they are
completely ineffective in changing the world.

Rich Gray

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An archive of all list discussion is available at

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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