Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mission to the Stars!

"For a while, earth TV could be watched, for about a month into the mission -- but as the ramjet accelerated, the TV action slowed in a Doppler effect, so that in old reruns of M*A*S*H, a favorite, Hawkeye and the nurses spoke in ever lower and more sepulchral tones and moved like dream figures walking in glue."

Lost in the Cosmos, Walker Percy, 1983.


Anonymous HA said...

That's pretty good.

I read some Percy circa college and I think I thought he was okay, but that's getting to be a while back now. I picked up The Moviegoer (1960) in Philly. Didn't finish it, but there's a bit where the narrator is thinking about the old (radio?) show This, I Believe from the 1950s, where they got writers etc. to describe their own personal belief systems; I've run into the text of Heinlein's episode somewhere. Anyhow, this guy imagines that he'd go on the show and say, "I believe in a good swift kick in the ass," which I've always treasured. But the book on the whole starts out as one of those courageous nonconformist critiques of materialism they used to manufacture on an industrial scale back then. A mass-produced artifact from the Narrow Lapel Era. Soul-crushingly conventional. Death of a Salesman writ even smaller, which I wouldn't have thought possible.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous HA said...

s/Era/Epoch? Age? Something like that.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Project WANNABE said...

Yeah I'm a big Walker Percy fan, but The Moviegoer is my second-least-favorite one. So I'm loath to defend it, but I think the main character is losing his grip over much more than only just material crap. In fact one of the only high points in his life is a little MG convertible which, despite its lack of a hardened overhead member, seems to protect its occupants from the radioactive particles of malaise that periodically settle like fallout.

A Percy book that I really like is Love in the Ruins. But then I like Graham Greene too, all this Bad-Catholic-Struggling-Against-Belief stuff sticks to me like wet dough.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Project WANNABE said...

"Lost in the Cosmos" isn't a novel though, it's a putative "self-help" book with un-unravelable dilemmas posed as a "twenty-question quiz" ... "Which of the following, in your opinion, bore the reader or viewer so painfully and irretrievably, that death by alcoholism becomes not only a tolerable risk but actually a positive "growth experience" by comparison ... (a) Explanations of the relationship between Free Will and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; (b) Panel discussion on Science and Faith; (etc) (Check One)"

7:01 AM  

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