Walker Percy Wednesday 99

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   Men in this century are no different from the Jews at Buchenwald who did not give themselves leave to resist death.
I know your name at last, he said, laughing and hooting hee hee hooooee like a pig-caller and kicking the tires, and you are not going to prevail over me.
Old father of lies, that’s what you are, the devil himself, for only the devil could have thought up all the deceits and guises under which death masquerades. But I know all your names.
Here are the names of death, which shall not prevail over me because I know the names.
Death in the guise of love shall not prevail over me. You, old father old mole, loved me but loved death better and in the name of love sought death for both of us. You only kissed me once and it was the kiss of death. True, death is a way out of a life-which-is-a-living-death. War and shooting is better than such a peace. But what if there is life?
Everybody has given up. Everybody thinks that there are only two things: war which is a kind of life in death, and peace which is a kind of death in life. But what if there should be a third thing, life?
Death in the guise of Christianity is not going to prevail over me. If Christ brought life, why do the churches smell of death?
Death in the guise of old Christendom in Carolina is not going to prevail over me. The old churches are houses of death.
Death in the form of the new Christendom in Carolina is not going to prevail over me. If the born-again are the twice born, I’m holding out for a third go-round.
Death in the guise of God and America and the happy life of home and family and friends is not going to prevail over me. America is in fact almost as dead as Europe. It might still be possible to live in America, said the nutty American dancing in place in old Carolina.
Death in the guise of belief is not going to prevail over me, for believers now believe anything and everything and do not love the truth, are in fact in despair of the truth, and that is death.
Death in the guise of unbelief is not going to prevail over me, for unbelievers believe nothing, not because truth does not exist but because they have already chosen not to believe, and would not believe, cannot believe, even if the living truth stood before them, and that is death.
Death in the guise of the new life in California is not going to prevail over me. Marin County and the Cupps are not going to prevail over me. But what if the Cupps and Marin County should prevail? Then the Germans and my father are right and war is better than peace, true death better than the living death. But it will not prevail over me because I know the names of death.
Death in the form of isms and asms shall not prevail over me, orgasm, enthusiasm, liberalism, conservatism, Communism, Buddhism, Americanism, for an ism is only another way of despairing of the truth.
Death in the guise of marriage and family and children is not going to prevail over me. What happened to marriage and family that it should have become a travail and a sadness, marriage till death do us part yes but long dead before the parting, home and fireside and kiddies such a travail and a deadliness as to make a man run out into the night with his hands over his head? Show me that Norman Rockwell picture of the American family at Thanksgiving dinner and I’ll show you the first faint outline of the death’s-head.
God may be good, family and marriage and children and home may be good, grandma and grandpa may act wise, the Thanksgiving table may be groaning with God’s goodness and bounty, all the folks healthy and happy, but something is missing. What is this sadness here? Why do the folks put up with it? The truth seeker does not. Instead of joining hands with the folks and bowing his head in prayer, the truth seeker sits in an empty chair as invisible as Banquo’s ghost, yelling at the top of his voice: Where is it? What is missing ? Where did it go? I won’t have it! I won’t have it! Why this sadness here? Don’t stand for it! Get up! Leave! Let the boat people sit down! Go live in a cave until you’ve found the thief who is robbing you. But at least protest. Stop, thief. What is missing? God? Find him!
Ross Alexander left his happy home in Beverly Hills, saying: I’m going outside and shoot a duck.
You gave in to death, old mole, but I will not have it so. It is a matter of knowing and choosing. To know the many names of death is also to know there is life. I choose life. Hee hoo hee heee hooeee. He was shivering and dancing in place, hands in pockets like an Irishman doing a jig. Is it possible that a man in the last half of his life can actually learn something he didn’t know before? Yes! Ha hee hooee.
Death in the form of death genes shall not prevail over me, for death genes are one thing but it is something else to name the death genes and know them and stand over against them and dare them. I am different from my death genes and therefore not subject to them. My father had the same death genes but he feared them and did not name them and thought he could roar out old Route 66 and stay ahead of them or grab me and be pals or play Brahms and keep them, the death genes, happy, so he fell prey to them.
Death in none of its guises shall prevail over me, because I know all the names of death.

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