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Giving the Sickness a Name: Walker Percy and acedia

Jeff Reimer in Commonweal Magazine. The artist’s work, in other words, is not an autopsy but a diagnosis made in the hope of recovery—an attempt, he says, to “give the sickness a name, to render the unspeakable speakable.” Even when he is at his bleakest, Percy manages to counter despair with the possibility, however elusive,…

Walker Percy Wednesday – 13

Happy people were worse off in their happiness in museums than anywhere else, he had noticed sometime ago. In here the air was thick as mustard gas with ravenous particles which were stealing the substance from painting and viewer alike. Though the light was technically good, illuminating the paintings in an unexceptionable manner, it nevertheless…

A Confederacy of Dunces: extracts (52)

Have you abandoned your project to form a political party or nominate a candidate for president by divine right? I remember that when I finally met you and challenged your political apathy, you came up with this idea. I knew that it was a reactionary project, but it at least showed that you were developing…

Walker Percy Wednesday – 12

The sun is shining, people live well, go about satisfying their needs and achieving goals, work at creative jobs, attend cultural attractions, participate in interesting groups. This is, by every calculation, as it should be. Yet it was on just such a day as this, an ordinary Wednesday or Thursday, that he felt the deepest…

A Confederacy of Dunces: extracts (51)

His blue and yellow eyes rested on an unopened manila envelope on the top of the toilet. For quite a while Ignatius had been trying to decide whether or not he would open the envelope. The trauma of having found employment had affected his value negatively, and he was waiting until the warm water in…

Walker Percy Wednesday – 11

So thoroughly in fact did he identify with his group companions of the moment, so adept did he become at role-taking, as the social scientists call it, that he all but disappeared into the group. As everyone knows, New York is noted for the number and variety of the groups with which one might associate, so…

A Confederacy of Dunces: extracts (50)

“The sisters loved Ignatius. He was such a darling child. He used to win all them little holy pictures for knowing his catechism.” “Them sisters shoulda knocked his head in.” “When he useta come home with all them little holy pictures,” Mrs. Reilly sniffed, “I sure never thought then he’d end up selling weenies in…

Walker Percy Wednesday – 10

But it was worse than this in his case. It was more than being a Southerner. For some years he had had a nervous condition and as a consequence he did not know how to live his life. As a child he had had “spells,” occurrences which were nameless and not to be thought of,…