[percy-l] Percy, liberal or conservative

John Pearson jp at jlarsp.com
Thu Oct 8 21:37:54 EDT 2015

Wow. As a self-described liberal there is virtually nothing in your definition that I recognize about the definition of liberal (it frankly sounds like a definition given by a conservative, so that they can easily knock it down), and little about your definition of conservative.

This is an interesting discussion, and one of the many reasons I love the work of Percy is that he is not easy to categorize, and to some extent, each reader is moved to think and in some sense can find something in his writing they connect with, even when coming from vastly disparate parts of the political spectrum. I think the list has proven this—over the years there have been plenty of conservative and plenty of liberal arguments for and interpretations of Percy’s work.

This has been an interesting discussion and it’s great to see the list jump to life. Something I think Janet said about Percy not being easy made me wonder if living in the twitter age is part of why—in some circles anyway—his popularity has for the moment waned. He deals with complex ideas that cannot be easily summed up in 140 characters. (I’m not saying Yates can, so at best this is relevant to Percy’s decline). It does seem that these things often run in cycles. I also agree that part of Yates renaissance is due to the movie of Revolutionary Road, which was well done and caught the zeitgeist of the moment. There is much in Percy that is universal, and if there was ever a film made of one of his novels, I’m guessing that would boost the sales and readership of all of them. (And of course that is a cart/horse question.) In the meantime, it is wonderful to have a little corner of the internet where those who have been influenced by Percy’s work can gather and discuss.

I don’t post here often, and am always thankful when I see the list spring to life. It inspires me not only to reread Percy, but to think, and to write. So thanks to all who read and post and keep the list going.
Best wishes,

Joh Pearson

> On Oct 8, 2015, at 6:55 PM, Michael Larson <larsonovic at gmail.com> wrote:
> Janet, 
> I think it depends on how one defines the terms, "liberal" and "conservative." Modern Americans tend to define that continuum based on positions taken with regard to certain divisive moral issues--like abortion and gay rights, at present (though the issues have been different at different times)--and leave it at that. The root of conservatism, however, lies in the belief that there is an objective moral order and that society is best when it conserves whatever has been learned (or revealed) about that order and tries to live in harmony with it. The root of liberalism lies in the belief that there is no objective moral order and that therefore the will of the individual or, when there is conflict between individuals, the will of the greatest number of individuals, is best for society.
> By these definitions, at least, Percy was a conservative.
> Best wishes,
> Mike Larson
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