[percy-l] Love in the Ruins 'slow read' -- chapter 2 -- "July First"

Lauren Stacy Berdy lauren.stacy.berdy at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 12:31:29 EDT 2014


He explains an idea from reading K, concerning the seemingly 
disconnected ideas of the comic and the religious.  Of LITR, he states: 
"In this novel, I was less interested in a search, in progressing from 
one category to the other, t*han I was in the exercise of the comic and 
the religious."*

Explainer's are part of the comedy, Dr. Percy knew this so well.

We are all being part of the broad comedy routine we call living.

The *comedy* comes into the sweep of his thought thru the door our our 
own lives.
here goes.........

as I understand from reading a selective reading ( very) of Kierkegaard 
and a long pull of  the good doctors diagnosis for all of us.

The comedy is ourselves..........we ( us) are both actors and our own 
best audience. The doers and observers of our own actions and 
decisions.We lack a standpoint to view ourselves. To be fully revealed 
and fully known. We become the audience for our own tragic existence. WE 
DR. Percy is the ironist who is bringing the play  to our attention thru 
Dr. More. He is not judging he is if you will the "producer"/Play write 
of this play his "novel"

so it is hilarious that we don't get off the stage and get quiet and 
"grab a wife and live a life" of quiet joys or whatever comes our way.
Dr. More does just that at the end.
(The /other/ (Ellen) will help him revel himself to himself)

Frankly, for me everything else in the book is helping us to tell our 
story. Our human story.

I think the trick here is to see the humor of ourselves and to pony up a 
bit by examining our own everyday lives as we move thru space and 
time.("on this spinning cinder")
After all he was a excellent diagnostician wasn't he?

Thank you very much for this excellent dialogue.

Lauren Stacy Berdy

  On 7/6/2014 11:36 PM, Karl M. Terrell wrote:
> Hello everyone.  I am picking up the baton on the slow read, with 
> these opening comments on chapter 2.
> _Disclaimers_: One, I am not an academic -- just someone who has for 
> many years loved Percy's prose, his ideas and observations on the 
> human condition.  Two, while I have read close to everything he's 
> written, most of my reading was done quite a few years ago (I recently 
> re-read The Moviegoer, though).  And three, it's been 20 or more years 
> since I last read LITR .... and, on this go-round, I haven't read past 
> chapter 2 yet.  I am reading this 'as we go,' and almost as if reading 
> it for the first time.
> I welcome any insights my few observations and questions might 
> generate, from amateurs like me, and from those who've really studied 
> Percy.
> I like the comment someone made recently, not to 'make a campsite' of 
> LITR, but to think of it as a trail.  I thought about that a few times 
> while reading this chapter, as I found myself trying to keep a handle 
> on the main plot-line -- turning back a few pages every so often, 
> looking for plot-line clues maybe I might've missed -- and just 
> generally wondering where the story is going.
> In the end, I guess, plot/story line was not really Percy's forte; not 
> what he was about.  Agree?  Disagree?  In any event, what carries me 
> along is the wonderful writing and his observations, the vivid 
> characters, and the descriptions of his world (real world Louisiana, 
> set in an imagined future).
> I also found myself wondering: how reliable is our narrator?  I noted, 
> for example, at least two passages where the characters More interacts 
> with don't see the vines (Ruby the bartender at p. 88 and Max at p. 
> 115 ["What was that about the vines?"] -- Farrar, Straus, 1991 
> printing).  In other words, how much of what is presented in the 
> story, as told to us by More, is (so to speak) actually happening?  At 
> one or two points I felt a tinge of annoyance thinking about this, but 
> by the end of the chapter I found myself enjoying the tension created 
> by this uncertainty -- Is he really being shot at by a sniper?  Is a 
> Bantu uprising, or worse, really in the works?  See, end of subchapter 
> 12, the conversation with Victor: "Now everything's got to go and 
> everybody loses." / I rise unsteadily.  "Everybody?" / ... "Not you, 
> Doc.  All you got to do is move in with your mama.  She'll do for you."
> Speaking of Victor, the opening scene in subchapter 13 -- where Victor 
> assists our addled hero through the door of the Little Napoleon, 
> encountering Leroy Ledbetter -- is a brilliant exposition of the 
> subtleties of racial mores and customs in the Jim Crow world.
> So, what's the larger goal or idea of this novel, beyond the spinning 
> of a yarn?  I'm aware of the Kierkegaard influence, so I googled that, 
> and came across an interview Percy gave in 1974 -- "Walker Percy Talks 
> about Kierkegaard" (Journal of Religion).  My knowledge of Kierkegaard 
> is very limited (covered in a few philosophy courses taken many years 
> ago), and so I bring this up only to invite comment from those more 
> knowledgeable in this connection.  My limited understanding is of K's 
> role as the father of existentialism, and of his radical emphasis on 
> the individual, distinct from and in reaction to the more systematic 
> (right word?) approach to philosophy by Hegel. The search for the true 
> self seems to be Percy's point of connection with K.  Except, Percy 
> said the following in the interview about LITR:
> He explains an idea from reading K, concerning the seemingly 
> disconnected ideas of the comic and the religious.  Of LITR, he 
> states: "In this novel, I was less interested in a search, in 
> progressing from one category to the other, than I was in the exercise 
> of the comic and the religious."
> Not sure I fully understand this concept, and would be interested in 
> any thoughts one might have.  I get the comic end of things, but what 
> is Percy really referring to when he terms More as a Bad Catholic? 
> (Fourth disclaimer: I'm not a Catholic, and in fact count myself as 
> agnostic -- I believe my interest in Percy nonetheless stems from his 
> emphasis on the search for meaning at the individual level, rather 
> than at the church/man-made level ... and, I like the skewering of the 
> Englishman wife-Doris runs off with, who dabbles in Oriental 
> mysticism.  In the interview on K, he talks in the same vein about the 
> communal hippies of the late 60s, early 70s).
> Thoughts?
> Karl
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