[percy-l] LITR Slow Read Chapter 5 –“July Fourth” the penultimate section of LITR.

janetcantor37 at yahoo.com janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 28 02:10:04 EDT 2014

Wow, Patrick. Terrific.
What an act to follow. I hope I don't disappoint when I do the last section for next week.

So now we get to the section where Tom is filling us in about how he got to that spot where he could see everything, and knew better than most, the dangers all around.
 In the midst of all the potshots taken at him, the threats of the potential kidnappings, the chaos that Immelman is creating with the lapsometer and all the rest there are some areas where there is normalcy and people are unaffected by what is going on..

We learn in this chapter why Tom was urged to go to his mother's house; it was because the Bantus wanted his house as part of the whole area and they needed Tom out of there, so the shootings were not to kill him, but to encourage him to leave.

His chest is buzzing. He fears the worst. But it is only his phone. Ha.
Ellen's voice, like a tiny Presvbyterian cricket scolds him from the phone, reminiscent of Binx's aunt in the Moviegoer, that he is not living up to his potential.

Something is going to happen today. Tom tells Moira they can't leave the hotel until he makes sure that it's safe for them either in Paradise or the Center. I like that those two are place names of our story but they have convenient double meanings.

Someone is shooting into the hotel. Tom has to go out to find who it is.

The scene with his mother makes me wonder what is real and what is not in the story. She goes about blithely doing what she wants as if none of the violence or chaos is affecting her. Why is that so?

  Tom gets locked up in the rectory by Uru, one of the Bantus. But Tom was on the building committee and figures a way to get out.  

All of this is very funny, especially with the loud music punctuating everything.

There could be complete chaos with Tom and his three ladies. Tom wants all three. He is in love with Lola and Moira and Ellen is efficient. As Ellen takes over, Tom tells himself that no one ever had a better nurse than Ellen. Later he talks to Max Gottlieb who tells him that the only two people in the world who believe in Tom are Max and Ellen and that he had better take care of Ellen.

Tom meets a group of leftists. I loved it when they told him "We practice creative nonviolent violence, that is, violence in the service of nonviolence. It is a matter of intention." Tom tells us that the one who said this a semanticist. And it continues on that page getting more hilarious as it goes. When Tom says if it is so bad here why, don't you live in Sweden or North Ecuador, he is told, don't be silly; do you know how much I am earning here? Too funny.

On page 353 we get back to where the novel started. He leaves his safe venue on the interstate from which he can see everything.

Art Immelman tells Tom, "We never do anything to anybody. We only help people do what they want to do. This is a key.
He also tells Tom, "We are dedicated to the freedom of the individual to choose his own destiny and develop his potential." I thought of Slomo.

Suddenly Tom is waking up from an injection that Dr. Gottlieb has given him and Ellen is there. The girls have all left the hotel. Lola has returned to Tara and Moira has left with Buddy Brown. The Bantus have been foiled in their plans. There were only a few of them anyway.
 Most people black and white liked things the way they were. (This reminded me of the end of Percy's Civil War essay where he was glad the Union held.)

Ellen tells Tom to go back to work. He says he couldn't. There is the terror. And the useless longing on weekdays.

On page 366 some of the people from his case studies at the beginning of the book suddenly appear and I believe this is a dream sequence. Is most of the rest of this section a dream?

In a scene reminiscent of the one in The Moviegoer when Lonnie tells Binx he is taking his communion for Binx, Tom remembers when his daughter Samantha asks him why he doesn't go to mass anymore. She urges her father not to commit the sin against grace. "If G-d gives you the grace to believe in him and love him and you refuse, the sin will not be forgiven you."

When Art tries to take Tom to Denmark, Ellen won't let Tom go. (good and evil in combat?) Tom also stops Ellen from going with Art.
When Art says that the two of them will go with him, Tom says, "Don't touch her!" Tom asks Sir Thomas More to pray for them and drive Art hence. Art slowly recedes. 
This harks back to when Art told him  that he only helped people do what they wanted to do.
 Tom prays and the devil loses.

That's my two cents. Can't wait to hear from others.

On to the next section. See you next week.
Janet Cantor

Note: Like others, I enjoy Percy from an amateur 
(in its
original sense) perspective. 

We read about the times before and after the opening July Fourth 
section. There is a Bantu uprising and More has turned over the 
lapsometer to Art Immelmann. He also has holed up Moira, Lola, and Ellen
 in a motel as the sand pits in the golf course; Art has loosed the 
lapsometer on Knothead, Bantu, and others while imminent destruction may
 happen, according to Dr More.

Currently I am reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My 
Struggle (Vol. 1) and it seems to parallel one of the points Percy may be making 
in this
section, as Knausgaard meditates on art and how it changes over time: 
The fact that things other and mysterious were
relevant to us had led my thoughts to angels, those mystical creatures 
who not
only were linked to the divine but also to humanness, and therefore 
the duality of the nature of otherness better than any other figure. At the same time there was something 
dissatisfying about both the paintings and angels, since they both 
belonged to
the past in such a fundamental way, that part of the past we have put 
us, that is, which no longer fit in, into this world we had created 
where the
great, the divine, the solemn, the holy, the beautiful, and the true 
were no
longer valid entities but quite the contrary, dubious or even laughable[Emphasis
added.] … As far as Norwegian art is concerned, the break 
came with
Munch; it was in his paintings that, for the first time, man took up all the
space. Whereas man was subordinate to the Divine through to the Age of
Enlightenment, and to the landscape he was depicted in during 
Romanticism - the
mountains are vast and intense, the sea is vast and intense, even the 
trees are
vast and intense while humans, without exception, are small - the 
situation is
reversed with Munch. It is as if 
swallow up everything, make everything theirs. The mountains, the sea, 
trees, and the forests, everything is colored by humanness. Not human 
and external life, but human feelings and inner life. [Emphasis 
added.]  … We understand 
everything, and we do so
because we have turned everything into ourselves. Nowadays, as one might
expect, all those who have occupied themselves with the neutral, the 
the nonhuman in art, have turned to language, that is where the
incomprehensible and the otherness have been sought, as if they were to 
found on the margins of human expression, on the fringes of what we 
and of course, actually, that is logical: where else would it be found 
in a
world that no longer acknowledges that there is a beyond? (pp. 220-22 in
Knausgaard, My Struggle, Vol. 
(trans. Don Bartlett), New York: Archipelgo Books, 2012)
While there is a lot here about art, I think it 
reflects More’s point of view in this section. He talks of angelism and
bestialism. Everything becomes shaped by his humanness, his perspective.
Everything, the women, the lapsometer, the Bantus, the Knotheads, 
reflect him
and where he currently exists. Winner in The Pit (almost by accident), 
he now
must go out into the world as it is in this section.
In one sense, this section is More in The Pit, not 
himself, but as Mr. Ives.  He 
knows what
others do not. His responses are determined by his inner comprehension. 
Yes, he
is abstracted from himself by love/lust for the three women, and yes, 
this Pit
(with fire and brimstone burning in the sand pits of the gold course) 
may even
be the Inferno, and yes, More finds it very more difficult to breath and stay
awake, because some kind of revelation is at hand.  (Are the three women parallels to the 
temptations of Christ in the desert in some way?) Dr. More will see it 
all come
together in his own epiphany, similar to Mr. Ives understanding of what 
perceives everything is about in the Pit section. This may be because 
all of
this is a much needed distraction. He must be distracted because, as Mr 
must shut down, he will reveal a frightening and hard-to-express 
about what Samantha’s death means to him. (He will also need a grace to 
this. Three graces in Lola, Moira, and Ellen?)
In a comic sense (very much like the Divine Comedy and very much as Lauren Stacy Berdy has 
hinted), More for this section seems very much Percy’s “man on the 
Snipers are shooting at him; colleagues are attacking him; only a few 
Ellen and Victor truly commiserate with him. He annotates every moment 
with a
keen sense of that moment and he details every move. He answers all 
curtly because he ‘s “focused.” Here arises the comedy because he is 
focused on
the moment (shades of Kiekegaard) and the current crisis. Yet he remains
distracted by needing to “save” the women and his lapsometer. He has a 
antagonist in Immelmann (with a nod to the Satanic overtures many here 
mentioned). In fact, he resembles a Flannery O’Connor’s character with a gun
(lapsometers?) pressed against the head.
But is all of this some kind of strange grace that 
Percy has
assembled, leading to More’s very quick revelation about what happened 
the end of Samantha’s life? Is this the Pit where More reveals to 
himself, as
he revealed to the crowd the “truth” about Mr Ives, the utter truth 
to seek a grace? To comprehend a grace? Are we joining More in answering what
may be a key question, “If only––If only we hadn’t been defeated by 
humming present time and missed it, missed ourselves, missed everything” (p.
374)? Is he finding a way to step past his broke heart and find the 
grace to
return to the present and his present life, and consequently to be 
present to
his own life and “pineal self”?
And what of the lines from Christmas carols/songs 
that echo
throughout the chapter? Where do they fit into all of this?

Thanks to  all the thoughtful consideration of the previous section (in 
the the future subsequent section.

I offer these as thoughts to begin consideration of Chapter 5
of our online discussion. Have at them, reinforce them, undermine them, 
them. Please accept these amateur considerations as a mere invitation 
for more wonderful
thoughts, draft-like as they are.

Patrick Lynch
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