[percy-l] July Third Love in the Ruins

janetcantor37 at yahoo.com janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 22 17:32:42 EDT 2014

What wonderful comments so far on this section! I particularly appreciated Greg's last paragraph about Tennessee. 

July Second ends with Tom wondering who is more alive, The Frenchman now who chooses life and who will die for nothing or the Frenchman of the First World War who chose to die for what he considered a purpose. This leads to variations and jokes and the chapter ends in spectacular writing about the chasm that has rent the soul of western man ever since Descartes' coined his famous phrase. So philosophy is entering our story.

July Third:

I love Percy's juxtapositions in phrases of his own:

No one is in but Father Kev Kevin who is sitting at the vaginal computer reading a book, Christianity Without G-d. 
So funny. 
And when asked if it is good, Father Kev answers"...Yes, this is where it's at." What a wonderful set up to the hilarious scenes which are to follow. And, no doubt, a gentle nudge by our author to remind us of what happens when such books are considered where it's at.

Tom wonders how Art Immelman could have found out about his invention... The next line is "Speak of the devil." Perhaps over obvious, but funny, nonetheless. Later there are some hairs on Art's head that stick up like a wet airdale's and I wonder if that refers to horns? When Immelman tells Tom to sign the funding application for research grants and Tom resists, he is told, "Just in case anything should go wrong, I'll be around." Tom asks what could go wrong and Immelman tells him, "Just in case." Ha. Whenever Immelman is around there is a strange smell of sweat overlaid by deodorant. And Immelman always seems to show up out of nowhere. He uses phrases Tom hasn't heard for decades; so he also seems to fit into any time frame, thus immortal.

The phrase "Well, well" shows up. It is also in The Thanatos Syndrome and I found something interesting when I was doing research on that book. I wonder if it is just an accident that it is here, too.

So is Tom the patient or the doctor diagnostician? Is all that is to happen in the Pit a figment of his imagination or does it happen exactly as described? He asks himself why he feels better when he feels crazy.
Tom has been expecting the Director to sanction his lapsometer. And when he asks the Director why he told Art Immelman that he had approved the application, the Director asserts he never heard of Immelman. Uh oh.

The heavy sodium mentioned in this novel comes back with a flourish in The Thanatos Syndrome.
When Art  adds his improvements to the gadget and uses it on Tom, Tom gets a big boost. There is much technical talk of the brain and of how we perceive women and music.  The author as scientist and semioticist visits our story here.
SloMo comes in here too. Happiness, spontaneity now can give each of us a great sense of freedom and omniscience. "Isn't it better to feel good rather than bad?" Art asks Tom.
 Tom is losing his terror. He has a conversation with himself. Is he mad or more sane than ever as he approaches the subject to be evaluated in the Pit? After worrying that there are dangers if his invention falls into the wrong hands, Immelman gives some quasi assurances and Tom signs the contract, sealing his pact with the devil. Art tells him he has nothing to do but never look back and never regret as per agreement. "What agreement?" Tom asks.

On to the Pit.

The page that describes Tom's entrance has many small details I like. He walks like the relief pitcher making his slow dramatic entrance from the bullpen. Buddy's fans are euthanasists. Later in the page Tom talks of the famous judge who once improved the quality of life in India in a successful program of 100,000,000 abortions and an equal number of painless "terminations" of miserable and unproductive folk. Such tossed off things in the text will be used in Thanatos to register Percy's worry about these cavalier attitudes.
A student or two, fans, assume they share the same convictions as Tom; this is another reference to Percy's idea from the last section that we see what we want to see.
Again there is a phrase that Tom says he doesn't pay much attention left or right, referring to the people on both sides of the aisle, but obliquely it is a reference to the factions, the Leftists and the Knotheads of the first section of the book.
And I liked the phrase that the kids now don't have enough sense to know what they don't know.
I liked the description of the students later in the text that the freer they are the more dogmatic they are; and at heart they are totalitarian.

Later Tom sees that mysteriously Art has found his lapsometers.

I loved the whole scene with Mr. Ives. I found it all so funny. I could just see Percy enjoying himself as he wrote this part.

Then Art goes to town.

And then Art uses the new improved lapsometer
on everyone and everyone loses inhibition and, pun intended, all hell breaks loose. Sensible Ellen is angry and worried. Art is proud of himself at his pilot test of the object. Tom wants to cancel the contract
but Arts just brushes him off.

Max Gottlieb and Ellen on each side of Tom, The Three Musketeers, understand that they must get Tom out of there to be ready to face the next day.

The reference to Sewanee in the closing sentence is for two things:
Percy's "Uncle Will" went to college there and
Sewanee is the fictionalized setting of The Second Coming.

Janet Cantor

and everyone who gets the treatment with the new and improved lapsometer loses inhibition and 
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