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Walker Percy Wednesday 147

Carl Sagan is right in ridiculing the absurd pseudosciences now so popular. He is admirable in his defense of science as a reliable and self-correcting method of attaining truth. Yet the fact is that nowadays there is no piece of nonsense that will not be believed by some and no guru or radio preacher, however…

Walker Percy Wednesday 146

Question: Why does it make scientists uneasy that it appears to be the case that Homo sapiens, a conscious languaged creature, appeared suddenly and lately—when scientists profess to be interested in what is the case, that is, the evidence? (a) Because scientists are understandably repelled by the theory of the special creation of man by…

Walker Percy Wednesday 145

WHY DO SCIENTISTS DISLIKE what is apparently the case, that Homo sapiens appeared very recently and very suddenly, in a few hundred thousand years more or less of the Late Pleistocene, perhaps even less—in a word, in less time, cosmologically speaking, than it takes to tell the Biblical story of creation; that the peculiar characteristics…

Walker Percy Wednesday 144 (Or Why Writers Drink)

Why Writers Drink He is marooned in his cortex. Therefore it is his cortex he must assault. Worse, actually. He, his self, is marooned in his left cortex, locus of consciousness according to Eccles. Yet his work, if he is any good, comes from listening to his right brain, locus of the unconscious knowledge of…

Walker Percy Wednesday 143

But what is not generally recognized is that the successful launch of self into the orbit of transcendence is necessarily attended by problems of reentry. What goes up must come down. The best film of the year ends at nine o’clock. What to do at ten? What did Faulkner do after writing the last sentence of…

Walker Percy Wednesday 142

Enrichment in such an age appears either as enrichment within immanence, i.e., the discriminating consumption of the goods and services of society, such as courses in personality enrichment, creative play, and self-growth through group interaction, etc.—or through the prime joys of the age, self-transcendence through science and art. The pleasure of such transcendence derives not…

Walker Percy Wednesday 141

The naming of the predicament of the self by art is its reversal. Hence the salvific effect of art. Through art, the predicament of self becomes not only speakable but laughable. Helen Keller and any two-year-old and Kafka’s friends laughed when the unnameable was named. Kafka and his friends laughed when he read his stories…

Walker Percy Wednesday 140

Yet they, the lay scientists, those who perceive themselves in the community of scientists and at some remove from the ordinary world, may be better off than those who live immanent lives, beneficiaries of science and technology, but with only a glimmering of the scientists, the glimmering that there are scientists and that “they” know…

Walker Percy Wednesday 139

Self as Transcendent. In a post-religious age, the only transcendence open to the self is self-transcendence, that is, the transcending of the world by the self. The available modes of transcendence in such an age are science and art. 00000 Reentry problems become noticeable in less inspired scientists. The divorced wife of an astronomer at the…

Walker Percy Wednesday 138

As a consequence of the unprecedented appearance of the triad in the Cosmos, there appeared for the first time in fifteen billion years (as far as we know) a creature which is ashamed of itself and which seeks cover in myriad disguises. One semioticist defined the subject of his study as the only organism which…