Walker Percy’s “The Second Coming”

By |2020-06-19T11:29:29-05:00June 24th, 2020|Categories: Books, Culture, Fiction, Literature, Walker Percy|

During the last third of the twentieth century, Walker Percy was a force to be reckoned with, as essayist, philosopher, vocal Catholic, and, especially, as a prize-winning novelist, often best-selling. (He was considered a first-class stylist.) Describable, I think, as “psychological gothic” (and Southern, though he came to hold no truck with Faulkner), those six [...]

Three Dangerous Philosophical Novels

By |2021-04-29T15:49:49-05:00October 2nd, 2018|Categories: Aldous Huxley, Ayn Rand, Books, C.S. Lewis, Featured, George Orwell, Literature, Philosophy, Walker Percy|

In a culture in which algorithms control the content we consume—what movies to watch, what goods to buy, what news to listen to—the choice to read a book whose philosophy opposes our own and questions our sacred assumptions is nothing short of revolutionary. “I choose novels that let me turn my brain off,” a student [...]

Anthropology and the Death of the Individual

By |2019-07-23T11:16:34-05:00October 19th, 2017|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Death, Friedrich Nietzsche, History, Philosophy, St. Thomas Aquinas, Truth, Walker Percy|

Do you believe in a higher power, something that transcends the “human organism”? If this question is trivialized or ignored, we enter the very sound and soul of despair… Anthropology is the scientific study of human beings. Philosophy, literally translated, is the love of wisdom. Philosophical anthropology, then, is the scientific study of humans for [...]

The Grace of Bourbon

By |2015-02-22T19:46:55-06:00February 22nd, 2015|Categories: Christianity, Walker Percy|Tags: |

Will Barrett, the protagonist of Walker Percy’s novel The Last Gentleman, complains that he cannot figure out “how to live from one minute to the next on a Wednesday afternoon.” Even Christians, with a solid theological and philosophical grounding, can find the question troubling. So you believe in God, and you believe the Second Person [...]

Malaise and Wonder in Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer”

By |2021-05-10T03:51:58-05:00August 30th, 2014|Categories: Books, Walker Percy|

Walker Percy prefaced The Moviegoer with a line from Søren Kierkegaard: “The specific character of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair.” And from that starting point Percy slowly crafts a portrait of a New Orleans broker named Jack Bolling. Jack has a bad shoulder from a shrapnel wound he received in [...]

On the Measure and Conservation of Human Things

By |2017-07-31T23:48:21-05:00October 28th, 2013|Categories: C.S. Lewis, Christianity, Fr. James Schall, Politics, Walker Percy|Tags: , |

For the truth of knowledge is measured by the knowable object. For it is because a thing is so or is not so that a statement is known to be true or false, and not the reverse.—Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book 5,1.17, #1003 A people that were to honor falsehood, defamation, fraud, and [...]

Sins Unatoned: The Gothic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen

By |2019-11-26T16:20:24-06:00October 26th, 2013|Categories: Audio/Video, Bruce Springsteen, Culture, Flannery O'Connor, Music, South, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Walker Percy|

In 1989, the year before his death, the great Southern novelist Walker Percy wrote a letter to rock-and-roll legend Bruce Springsteen, which reads, in part: This is a fan letter—of sorts. I’ve always been an admirer of yours, for your musicianship, and for being one of the few sane guys in your field. Of particular [...]

Thanatos Syndrome: Life and Death Matters

By |2016-07-26T15:28:42-05:00July 29th, 2013|Categories: Books, Christianity, Gregory Wolfe, Walker Percy|Tags: , , |

Review of The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy. In spite of his six widely read novels, his two works of nonfiction (with their original contributions to the study of language and the human psyche), and his two national literary awards, Walker Percy remains a figure on the fringes of the American literary establishment. When he [...]

The Lonely Self? Walker Percy vs. Carl Sagan

By |2014-01-16T19:12:38-06:00April 20th, 2013|Categories: Peter A. Lawler, Philosophy, Walker Percy|Tags: |

Here’s the third part of my celebration of Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos. This is a thought experiment, and you’re perfectly free to disagree with it, have contempt for it, or just hate it. Walker Percy’s self-help book is basically in the form of a twenty-question self-help quiz. The questions are about various self-understandings people have. [...]

Walker Percy and Carl Sagan

By |2013-12-29T22:28:37-06:00April 10th, 2013|Categories: Literature, Peter A. Lawler, Philosophy, Walker Percy|

The title Lost in the Cosmos is meant to be a correction to Carl Sagan’s “splendid picture book” Cosmos, which Walker Percy understands as a failed self-help book. Sagan aims to get our minds off our insignificant selves by getting it on the magnificence of the stars and planets. Every moment in scientific progress has been [...]

Did Walker Percy Really Write the Last Self-Help Book?

By |2018-07-31T20:56:35-05:00March 14th, 2013|Categories: Books, Peter A. Lawler, Walker Percy|

So lots of readers (about six) have written me asking for advice on what book they should read to turn their lives around. Here’s my recommendation:  Lost in the Cosmos by the philosopher-physician-novelist Walker Percy. It was published in 1983, and I’m one of the very few Americans celebrating the book’s 30th anniversary. Several posts will [...]

Walker Percy: A Man Must go down Fighting

By |2016-11-26T09:52:14-06:00June 28th, 2012|Categories: Quotation, Walker Percy|

“I no longer pretend to understand the world…The world I knew has come crashing down around my ears. The things we hold dear are reviled and spat upon….It’s an interesting age you will live in—though I can’t say I’m sorry to miss it. But it should be quite a sight, the going under of the [...]

Extraordinary Contentment in the Ordinary Life

By |2017-06-20T14:37:22-05:00November 18th, 2010|Categories: Culture, Julie Baldwin, Walker Percy|

As Advent approaches, and the leaves change colors, and the country grows increasingly befuddled, I find myself appreciating the idiosyncrasies associated with working for a small business. Specifically, my own family’s business, run by my tax attorney father and manned by a dozen or so employees. Two months ago, I left my job as a [...]

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