Walker Percy Wednesday 57


“Look here. She’s got a strong amplitude and high millivoltage over the temporal lobe, Brodmann 28, which correlates in my experience with singular concrete historical awareness, vivid childhood memories, you know, as well as a sense of the uniqueness of one’s tradition. But see here: an even stronger reading over parietal lobe, Brodmann 18. That’s the site of ahistoric perceptions that are both concrete and abstract. You should be an excellent artist, Ethel.”
“You see there, Ethel! She is, Doc.”
“Tch,” says Ethel sourly. “I’ve got the same thing from fortune cookies.”
“Are you Jewish, Ethel?”
“What? Yes. What do you mean by asking?”
“You exhibit here what I have termed contradictory Judaism.”
“What in hell do you mean?” Ethel swings around on her knees and looks at me squarely for the first time.
“Because you believe at one and the same time that the Jews are unique and that they are not. Thus you would be offended if a Jew told you the Jews were chosen by God, but you would also be offended if a non-Jew told you they were not.”

. . .

How stands it with a forty-five-year-old man who can fall in love on the spot with a twenty-year-old stranger, a clear-eyed vacant simple Massachusetts girl, and desire nothing more in this life than to move into her chickee?

. . .

At this moment the President is beginning to speak in New Orleans and the Vice-President is mounting the platform at NASA a few miles away. Both are making a plea for unity. The President, who is an integrationist Mormon married to a liberated Catholic, will appeal to Leftists to respect law and order. The Vice-President, a Southern Baptist Knothead married to a conservative Unitarian, is asking Knotheads for tolerance and understanding, etcetera.
The poor U.S.A.!
Even now, late as it is, nobody can really believe that it didn’t work after all. The U.S.A. didn’t work! Is it even possible that from the beginning it never did work? That the thing always had a flaw in it, a place where it would shear, and that all this time we were not really different from Ecuador and Bosnia-Herzegovina, just richer. Moon Mullins blames it on the niggers. Hm. Was it the nigger business from the beginning? What a bad joke: God saying, here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you’re the apple of my eye; because you the lordly Westerners, the fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths, believed in me and in the outlandish Jewish Event even though you were nowhere near it and had to hear the news of it from strangers. But you believed and so I gave it all to you, gave you Israel and Greece and science and art and the lordship of the earth, and finally even gave you the new world that I blessed for you. And all you had to do was pass one little test, which was surely child’s play for you because you had already passed the big one. One little test: here’s a helpless man in Africa, all you have to do is not violate him. That’s all.

One little test: you flunk!