Forthcoming: Walker Percy, Philosopher.
Percy on the Allure of Violence and Destruction
Anxiety concerning the decline and fall of civilization appears throughout Walker Percy’s body of work. Smith argues that what sets Percy’s account of this issue apart from others rests in his preoccupation not so much with depicting actual disaster for what it might tell us about human nature, politics, or our souls, but rather, with his focus on the end of our society as a clue that might help explain our predicament. Percy saw his role as reading the signs of our spiritual and social disorders, and rendering them intelligible to an audience that increasingly possessed a language inadequate to understanding the situation. Percy’s analysis of our attitudes toward catastrophe, disaster, war, and the end of civilization proves a fertile ground for exploring the fault lines in our social and political life.