Walker Percy Wednesday 83

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There is nothing like a liberal gone sour.

*****

I told him this for two reasons. One was that it was the only reason he would believe, believing as he did that I was still a liberal and therefore capable of any madness. (Yet curiously it was for him an understandable madness: you know how old Lance is, etc., etc.)

The other reason was that my explanation was, in a sense, true.
“Yeah,” said Macklin. “A wonderful cause. In fact I agree with you, that’s what they need.”

*****

The drug was acting. A certain distance set in between me and myself. Here’s what I hoped for from the pills: a little space between me and the pain. I understood what Margot said but I couldn’t stand it. But how do you live with something you can’t stand? How do you get comfortable with a sword through your guts? I didn’t expect a solution or even relief. I only wanted a little distance: how does one live with it—the way a drunk lives with being a drunk, or a crook lives with being a crook? No problem! I envied both. But this! How do you live with this: being stuck onto pain like a cockroach impaled on a pin? The drug did this: before, I was part of the pain, there was no getting away from it. Now I had some distance. The pain was still there, but I stood off a ways. It became a problem to be solved. Hm, what to do about the pain? Who knows, there might even be a solution. Perhaps there’s something you can do to ease it. Let’s see.

*****

Often they hold down a small political job at the courthouse, or sell Tupperware—perhaps Cousin Callie has been Judge Jones’s mistress for twenty years. At any rate, they outlive everybody. They are healthy. They show up at funerals, weddings, and New Year open houses. One can’t imagine what they do between times.

*****

You always got it backward: you don’t set out looking for clues to God’s existence, nobody’s ever found anything that way, least of all God.

*****

Don’t you see? Virginia is neither North nor South but both and neither. Betwixt and between. An island between two disasters. Facing both; both the defunct befouled and collapsing North and the corrupt thriving and Jesus-hollering South. The Northerner is at heart a pornographer. He is an abstract mind with a genital attached. His soul is at Harvard, a large abstract locked-in sterile university whose motto is truth but which has not discovered an important truth in a hundred years. His body lives on Forty-second Street. Do you think there is no relation between Harvard and Forty-second Street? One is the backside of the other. The Southerner? The Southerner started out a skeptical Jeffersonian and became a crooked Christian. That is to say, he is approaching and has almost reached his essence, which is to be more crooked and Christian than ever before. Do you want a portrait of the New Southerner? He is Billy Graham on Sunday and Richard Nixon the rest of the week. He calls on Jesus and steals, he’s in business, he’s in politics. Everybody in Louisiana steals from everybody else. That is why the Mafia moved South: because the Mafia is happier with stealing than with pornography. The Mafia and the Teamsters will end by owning the South, the pornographers will own the North, movies, books, plays, the works, and everybody will live happily ever after.

California? The West? That’s where the two intersect: Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Las Vegas, drugs, pornography, and every abstract discarnate idea ever hit upon by man roaming the wilderness in search of habitation.

Washington, the country, is down the drain. Everyone knows it. The people have lost it to the politicians, bureaucrats, drunk Congressmen, lying Presidents, White House preachers, C.I.A., F.B.I., Mafia, Pentagon, pornographers, muggers, buggers, bribers, bribe takers, rich crooked cowboys, sclerotic Southerners, rich crooked Yankees, dirty books, dirty movies, dirty plays, dirty talk shows, dirty soap operas, fags, lesbians, abortionists, Jesus shouters, anti-Jesus shouters, dying cities, dying schools, courses in how to fuck for schoolchildren.

The Virginian? He may not realize it yet, but he is the last hope of the Third Revolution. The First Revolution was won at Yorktown. The Second Revolution was lost at Appomattox. The Third Revolution will begin there, in the Shenandoah Valley.

*****

By the way, it is not true that Americans are by nature the most pornographic people on earth. The Russians and the Chinese are simply behind times, busy catching up. Ha, wait till those buggers get the forty-hour week.

*****

To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle.

*****

The Jews called it knowing and now I knew why. Every time I went deeper I knew her better. Soon I would know her secret. We were watching each other. We were going to know each other but one of us would know first and therefore win. The watching was a contest. I was coming close, closer. We watched each other watching. It was a contest. She lost. When I found it out, the secret, she closed her eyes and curled around me like a burning leaf.

*****

In my confessional I fell to musing. Why does love require the absolute polarities of divinity-obscenity?

*****

An odd thing about New Orleans: the cemeteries here are more cheerful than the hotels and the French Quarter. Tell me why that should be, why two thousand dead Creoles should be more alive than two thousand Buick dealers?

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