Wednesday 7 February 2007

Percy's Cosmos

Let me return to the blogworld for 2007 by sharing a couple of quotes I'm enjoying today. Doing some extraneous reading to avoid writing, I'm flicking through Walker Percy's very funny and poignant mock-selfhelp book, Lost in the Cosmos. Percy is a Catholic humanist 2oth Century novelist, and wry wrestling with the inexplicable God and His absurd world mark all of his fiction. This book is a form of philosophical therapy, a selfhelp quiz asking the reader to carry out a series of thought experiments in order to explore his or her view of the Self. Its parallel in the world of movies would be I (heart) Huckabees. Percy's self-analysis is sharp, in the sense that it cut through even the thickest self-deception.

The book ends with what Percy sees as the choice for moderns (it was written in 1983): accept the preposterous doctrines of Christianity, or the more preposterous doctrines of scientism. Ask yourself, he suggests, whether you would rather be in 'Church' or in 'Nature' when an extraterrestial message comes in from the Great Beyond, "Do you read me? Come back".

Anyway, my two quotes for the day are:

"Two gods in the Cosmos is one too many."
"Whoever heard of a bad poet committing suicide?"

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Anonymous said...

When is the right time for a poet to commit suicide? If genius is only found posthumously it does seem an awful risk.

Greg Clarke said...

Depends on the causality question. If you could confirm your status as a good poet by going through with the suicide...

byron smith said...

Better yet - a mysterious 'disappearance', which might just be construed as a suicide (e.g. a swimming accident - such as my namesake). Then, you can hide away for a while and see whether it works.

Anonymous said...

Good thinking Byron. Always the man with the plan. Does it work the same for theologians though?