[percy-l] moviegoer

RHONDA MCDONNELL rhonda_mcdonnell at msn.com
Tue May 16 20:09:29 EDT 2006

You've identified the thing that makes the novel worth teaching for me. Some 
of the students who were moved by MG really surprised me. It touched 
something within them and made them re-examine their lives and their plans. 
On the other hand, some of the students who seemed introspective--searchers 
like Binx--didn't connect with the novel at all. Go figure!

. . . what people really fear is not that the bomb will fall but that the 
bomb will not fall . . .
                               --Walker Percy

>From: "Beck,  David A" <dabeck at iupui.edu>
>Reply-To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" 
><percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>
>To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" 
><percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Subject: [percy-l] moviegoer
>Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 22:59:09 -0400
>I hope that the "existential salience of Binx's predicament" comes
>across to my students. If not, the whole thing is a wash. But, at the
>same time, Dostoevsky's underground man shares some of the same signs
>of alienation (I don't consider Dostoevsky outdated). On the other
>hand, you bring up a great point: America is a different world from the
>world of TMG. That's why I think students appreciate Dostoevsky (and
>most of mine like C&P) or any "period piece" better than something that
>is somewhat contemporary.
>One of my favorite passages in TMG is when Binx has a conversation with
>         "Oh Lord. What's wrong with the goddamn world, Binx?"
>         "I am not sure. But something occurred to me this morning. I
>was sitting on the bus--"
>         "What do you do with yourself out there in Gentilly?" (39)
>To me this passage sums it up: either you get it (the search) or you
>don't. Walter doesn't get it. Many people make statements, platitudes,
>ask questions, but never really want to "search" for an answer. It's
>easy to spit out a question, but quite another to look deeply into our
>own existence, our place in this world. That aspect of the novel is
>probably more real today than it was when Percy wrote the book. We have
>more ways to hide from the search. Or perhaps we have more ways to
>disguise what we are doing and call it a search
>(does that make sense?).
>   We have more tv channels to distract us, more obligations (taking
>kids here and there--when did sports begin at age five?), more
>technology (he says as he writes this email), etc. For me, the
>challenge is to show students that something "ain't right" with our
>day-to-day existence (or at least it's not right for most of us). So,
>to show students that there is more to life than what is on the
>surface, to encourage them to dig deeper and see the mystery that lies
>beneath our day-to-day existence (to notice the dung
>beetle)--that is what I hope this novel can do to them (as it did for
>me). And, of course, I hope to inspire myself to continue the search.
>Like Binx after reflecting on dung beetle, I get home and "forget all
>about it."
>   Whew! Sorry for the long email. But the more we correspond, the more
>I see the importance of this book (and am glad that I decided to try it
>again). It is a novel that, according to some of us, changed lives
>(that's why it beat out Catch 22 for the National Book Award--of
>course, there probably is a Heller listserve....)
>Thanks for all of the feedback.
>An archive of all list discussion is available at 
>Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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