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Walker Percy Wednesday 111

There is a slight unpleasantness about doing a psychiatric consultation in a small general hospital. Here a psychiatrist is ranked somewhere between a clergyman and an undertaker. One is tolerated. One sees the patient only if the patient has nothing else to do. ***** “Very interesting. Okay, okay. Let’s skip the metaphysics. You get into…

Walker Percy Wednesday 110

I am straddling them, trying to wedge them apart. Good God: a New York-New Orleans Democrat Jew fighting it out with a Birmingham Italian Confederate Republican. ***** A discovery: A shrink accomplishes more these days by his fecklessness than by his lordliness in the great days of Freud. ***** Time was when I’d have tested…

Walker Percy Wednesday 109

Don’t forget Frank Macon, old hunting pal, once a complex old-style sardonic black man, as compact of friendship and ironies as Prince Hamlet, as faithful and abusive as a Russian peasant. Now as distant and ironed out as a bank teller: Have a nice day. ***** We inmates, or rather detainees—assorted con men, politicians, ex-Presidential…

Walker Percy Wednesday 108

What’s going on? What do they have in common? Are they better or worse? Well, better in the sense that they do not have the old symptoms, as we shrinks called them, the ancient anxiety, guilt, obsessions, rage repressed, sex suppressed. Happy is better than unhappy, right? But—But what? They’re somehow—diminished. Diminished how? ***** Then…

Walker Percy Wednesday 107

The point of the test, of course, is that self-consciousness implies that there is a self. ***** And there was Debbie’s new lingo, her everlasting talk about dialoguing, creativity, community, intersubjectivity, centeredness (her favorite word, centeredness). And her new word, empowerment. What would happen, I wonder, if I asked them what they thought about God…

Walker Percy Wednesday 106

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…

Walker Percy Wednesday 105

“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,…

Walker Percy Wednesday 104

Long ago Hudeen gave up ordinary conversation. Her response to any greeting, question, or request is not the substance of language but its form. She utters sounds which have the cadence of agreement or exclamation or demurrer. Uhn-ohn-oh (I don’t know?); You say!, You say now!, Lawsymussyme (Lord have mercy on me?); Look out!—an all-purpose…

Walker Percy Wednesday 103

For two years I was caught between passionate liberals and conservatives among my fellow inmates at Fort Pelham. Most prisoners are ideologues. There is nothing else to do. Both sides had compelling arguments. Each could argue plausibly for and against religion, God, Israel, blacks, affirmative action, Nicaragua. It was more natural for me, less boring,…

Walker Percy Wednesday 102

It is a bad time for psychiatrists. Old-fashioned shrinks are out of style and generally out of work. We, who like our mentor Dr. Freud believe there is a psyche, that it is born to trouble as the sparks fly up, that one gets at it, the root of trouble, the soul’s own secret, by…