Walker Percy Wednesday 105

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“Yes.” What I’m thinking is that Louisiana fishermen would not dream of speaking of such things, of my own people, of a way of life. If there is such a thing as a Southern way of life, part of it has to do with not speaking of it.
“Tom, I’m what you call a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I do all right, but I’m not really first-rate. I’ve been a pretty good physiologist, computer hacker, soccer bum, bridge bum, realtor, you name it. I went to Harvard and M.I.T. and did all right—I was a real hacker at M.I.T. and not bad at Harvard, but they were not for me, too many nerds at one, too many wimps at the other. So I cut out and headed for the territory like Huck. I chucked it all—except the kids.”
“Don’t you run the computer division at Mitsy?”
“Yeah, but it’s routine, checking out systems and trying to keep the local yokels from messing up—we don’t need another T.M.I. No, if I’d been first-rate I’d have gone from hacking to A.I.”
“A.I.?”
“Artificial intelligence, Tom. That’s where it’s at. As you well know—don’t think I don’t know your work on localizing cortical function.

*****

I had some success with them. Though I admired and respected Dr. Freud more than Dr. Jung, I thought Dr. Jung was right in encouraging his patients to believe that their anxiety and depression might be trying to tell them something of value. They are not just symptoms. It helps enormously when a patient can make friends with her terror, plumb the depths of her depression. “There’s gold down there in the darkness,” said Dr. Jung. True, in the end Dr. Jung turned out to be something of a nut, the source of all manner of occult nonsense. Dr. Freud was not. He was a scientist, wrong at times, but a scientist nonetheless.

*****

“I don’t have to plumb the depths of “modern man” as I used to think I had to. Nor worry about “the human condition” and suchlike. My scale is smaller.
In prison I learned a certain detachment and cultivated a mild, low-grade curiosity. At one time I thought the world was going mad and that it was up to me to diagnose the madness and treat it. I became grandiose, even Faustian.

*****

Living a small life gave me leave to notice small things—like certain off-color spots in the St. Augustine grass which I correctly diagnosed as an early sign of chinch-bug infestation. Instead of saving the world, I saved the eighteen holes at Fort Pelham and felt surprisingly good about it.
Small disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.
The great American philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce, said that the most amazing thing about the universe is that apparently disconnected events are in fact not, that one can connect them. Amazing!

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