Walker Percy Wednesday 106

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He competed ferociously and successfully, his blood pressure went down, he slept better, but in the end he blew it and either withdrew or got kicked out. Why? Because he never caught on to the trick of Louisiana civility, the knack of banter and horsing around, easing up, joshing and joking—in a word, the American social contract, in virtue of which ideology is mitigated by manners and humor if not friendship. He could not help himself. On the links he could hack up the fairway, hook and slice and curse with the best of them, but afterward in the clubhouse he could not suppress his Central American rage. One doesn’t do this. His fellow ROBs didn’t like Communists or liberals or blacks any more than he did. But one doesn’t launch tirades over bourbon in the locker room. One vents dislikes by jokes. But Enrique could never see the connection between anger and jokes (unlike Freud and the ROBs). He never caught on to the subtle but inviolable American freemasonry of civility. And so he got kicked out.

*****

What I want to tell them is, this is not the Age of Enlightenment but the Age of Not Knowing What to Do.

*****

TV has screwed up millions of people with their little rounded-off stories. Because that is not the way life is. Life is fits and starts, mostly fits. Life doesn’t have to stop with failure. Not only do you not have to jump in the creek, you can even take pleasure in the general recklessness of life, as I do, a doctor without patients sailing paper P-51s at a martin house. I am a failed but not unhappy doctor.

*****

Cure? No. What’s a cure in this day and age? Maybe a cure is knowing there is no cure.

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