Louis Gallo

—All Percy quotations from Walker Percy, Love In The Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971), first edition/first printing

Essay by Louis Gallo

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Dr. More thinks of his lapsometer as “the first caliper of the soul” which can scientifically measure the degree to which man no longer coincides with himself, an affliction associated with the Christian Fall from innocence.  If gnostic, i.e., unredeemed man, attempts to restore himself through existential projects doomed to failure, as the high incidence of mental illness and profane longing in contemporary America suggests, Dr. More’s own desire to ionize man into a state of neo-innocence also smacks of gnosticism in the form of scientific self-sufficiency.  A noble intention, perhaps, but Faustian in scope—precisely why Percy introduced the Mephistophelean character Art Immelmann to test his protagonist.[1]  Sometime before meeting Art, it had occurred to Dr. More that direct electrical stimulation of the pineal area might restore wholeness to even the most fragmented self.  Accordingly, he attaches an ionizer to the laposmeter, and thereby transforms a purely diagnostic tool into a therapeutic instrument.  And it works!  His problem is that no one believes him.

Except Art Immelmann.  Posing as a liaison between the “public and private sectors,” Art promises Dr. More not only the funding he needs to mass produce the lapsometer but also the Nobel Prize.  All Dr. More must do in return is sign over the patent rights (at a seventy-percent return) to those whom Art represents.  Aside from his instinctive distrust of Art, Dr. More rejects the offer because of his concern over the safety of casual, widespread ionizations.  Such man-made radiation might well set off a series of sub-chain reactions in the swamp’s heavy salt deposits, in effect detonating a cobalt bomb above New Orleans.  This is the physical end Dr. More fears at the beginning of the novel as he watches and waits on a southwest cusp of the interstate cloverleaf.  He fears equally a psychic Armageddon.  If the lapsometer fell into the wrong hands and people were ionized improperly, or for the wrong reasons, they could go berserk:

It would render any man totally abstracted from the concrete world, and in such a state of angelism that he would fall prey to the first abstract notion proposed to him and kill anybody who gets in his way, torture, execute, wipe out entire populations, all with the best possible intentions, in fact in the name of peace and freedom, etcetera.

Obviously, Art wants to clinch some demonic deal with Dr. More, but More knows that the loss of patent rights could jeopardize millions of lives; to consent for the sake of a Nobel Prize would surely mean signing away his soul.  Nor can Percy’s somewhat heavy-handed linkage of Art with the devil be ignored.  (A stench invariably signals his presence—what Luther noticed about Satan.)  He appears and disappears at will.  He buttons his clothing on the wrong side.  He first approaches Dr. More as the latter listens to Mozart’s Don Giovani descend into hell.  He claims to represent an agency more exalted than the F.B.I.  “We never ‘do’ anything to anybody,” he says.  “We only help people do what they want to do.  If people show a tendency to interact in a certain way, we facilitate the interaction in order to accumulate reliable data . . . . Doc, we’re dedicated to the freedom of the individual to choose his own destiny and level, his own potential.”  (Art’s last words might have emerged straight out of one of Voegelin’s diatribes against Gnosticism.  And note that the terms ‘interact,” “facilitate,” “data,” and “level” abound in technical, managerial, fiscal, sociological and, now, in university administrative jargon.)

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Art does, however, convince Dr. More to sign his name on the dotted line.  He tempts him with a gadget he calls a “differential stereotactic emission ionizer,” which, as a refined and precisely calibrated accessory, could be attached to More’s original lapsometer, transforming it into exactly the cheap, user-friendly behavior modification instrument the doctor craves.[2]  Art exploits Dr. More’s disappointment at having been refused funding through the normal medical and research channels as well as his fruitless efforts to convince his colleagues to take the lapsometer seriously.  But Art’s masterstroke is testing the new ionizer on Dr. More himself.  When he stimulates Brodmann II (the seat of the “musical-erotic”) Dr. More feels instant rapture.  Because he signs away his patent rights while under this hypnotic influence he cannot be held entirely responsible for this deed.  Nevertheless, he signs, and Art promptly employs the lapsometer to incite chaos, violence, rage, racial crises, political unrest and social malaise.

The social ferment following Dr. More’s defeat convinces him that Art intends to stir up more than a little trouble, although we learn later that he greatly exaggerates the peril as his mind vacillates between the musical-erotic bliss and acute paranoia.  He immediately cancels his agreement with Art and demands the return of a crate of lapsometers that have somehow come into Art’s possession and which, the latter claims, have been distributed to some “interdisciplinary task force.”  To keep Dr. More under control Art continues to zap him with debilitating doses of radiation—but he is thoughtful enough to warn him that “it” (which Dr. More takes as a slow sodium reaction) has begun.  Only when Art attempts to lure away Dr. More’s secretary/girlfriend and future wife with a lucrative job offer can the doctor rally sufficiently enough to route him for good.  At this point he stands firm through the power of prayer—not science or reason.  (And note that it is a woman who catalyzes Dr. More’s triumph over Art.)[3]

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Kierkegaard’s musical-erotic is an existential category Percy remodeled to suit his literary as well as philosophic needs.  Kierkegaard associated it with Don Juan, who flits about (although not indiscriminately) from woman to woman in a relentless cycle of rotation, or novelty, as the only means to assuage his profound despair and boredom.  He is therefore a fornicator, like Sutter in The Moviegoer and Dr. More between marriages.  As fornicator, Dr. More desires and seeks to possess all women but makes no moral commitments.  Kierkegaard’s moral stage is characterized by intimate bonds of intersubjectivity which serve as a preliminary foundation for the ultimate “religious” stage as exemplified by the Knight of Faith.  The secretary-girlfriend Ellen Oglethorpe, mentioned briefly above, will come to incarnate the moral stage as Dr. More’s wife, whereas the other two girls stashed away in an abandoned Howard Johnson’s motel function as aesthetic, musical-erotic amusements.  When Dr. More tells fellow physician Max that he prefers a stewardess in a motel to a “lovely person, a mature well-educated person who is quite fond of [him],” Max replies: “Exactly! . . . . You prefer ‘fornication,’ as you call it, to a meaningful relationship with another person.”

But if this were entirely true, Dr. More would not speak so glowingly of marriage as he does; nor would he desire to be married.  Even his first marriage, which failed, had its great moments, and it failed not so much because Dr. More was a bad husband but because Doris changes:  “Somewhere,” he explains,” she got the idea that love is spiritual.”  Doris’ spirituality, spawn in an ersatz union of the I-Ching, Ayn Rand, Hesse and “various Oriental persuasions,” symptomizes extreme self-abstraction since it denies the flesh, and therefore, exacerbates Cartesian dichotomy.  Thus “spiritual” Doris, who mistakes her urge to “find herself” as a genuine search, leaves her husband with two “English fags” and shortly thereafter dies on the island of Cozumel.  Dr. More’s final commentary on Doris:

What she didn’t understand, she being spiritual and seeing religion as spirit, was that it took religion to save me from the spirit world, from orbiting the Earth like Lucifer and the angels, that it took nothing less than touching the thread off the misty interstates and eating Christ himself to make me mortal man once again and let me inhabit my own flesh and love her in the morning.[4]

Dr. More seeks the spiritual in the concrete, the sublime in the pedestrian, whereas Doris forsakes the lovely, ordinary world, hunting the spiritual within the spiritual and succumbing to gnostic illusions . . . the pursuit of which hastens her death.

Lola Rhoades and Moira Schaffner represent Kierkegaard’s aesthetic stage in that Dr. More longs for and even loves both but will marry neither.  Art Immelmann, of all people, explains the dynamics of such relationships to Dr. More by relating them to music, the art Kierkegaard employed to symbolize this “first” stage on life’s way:

Here the abstract is experienced concretely and the concrete abstractly.  Take women,  for example.  Here one neither loves a woman individually, for herself and no other, faithfully; nor does one love a woman organically as a dog loves a bitch.  No, one loves a woman both in herself and insofar as she is a woman, a member of the class women.  Conversely, one loves women not in the abstract but in a particular woman. Loves her truly, moreover.  One loves faithlessly but truly . . . loves her as one loves music.  A woman is the concrete experienced abstractly. Music is the abstract experienced concretely, namely sound.

“Truly?” asks a skeptical but inquisitive Dr. More, as if to suggest that faithless love is no love, unless love and lust are one and the same.  Yes, as he admits, “all girls are loveable and I love them all.”

Lola, the romanticist, gets excited at the prospect of making love in the ruins, lives in a house called Tara and hoes her garden wearing sexy blue jeans.  Dr. More envisions life with Lola, his mother’s favorite, as an exercise in role playing: “I am perceiving myself as she sees me, an agreeable H. G. Wells nineteenth-century scientist type, ‘doing my research’ in the handsome outhouse of Tara . . . . Then we’ll go to our bed, not in the bunker to watch the constellations spin in their courses but upstairs to the great four-poster, the same used by Rhett Butler and Scarlett and purchased by Vince Marsaglia [a Mafia don] at the M-G-M prop sale in 1970.”  Because he once committed an indiscretion with Lola he feels obliged to her as well to her father, who knows about the incident.  Both Dusty (Lola’s father) and Dr. More’s mother urge him to marry her, and he might have had Ellen proved less devoted.  But marrying Lola would have been a mistake; she would have run out of mythic roles at some point and, like Doris, sought refuge in the bogus spiritual.  Luckily, Dr. More learns the easy way this time, for Lola quickly tires of eschatology and abandons him to marry Barry Bocock!

Moira Schaffner represents the aesthetic stage in a manner typical of Percy women:  “She lives for what she considers rare perfect moments.”  (In this sense, Moira resembles Binx Bolling’s Aunt Emily a great deal, although she has no historical sense whatever.)  Alas, Dr. More continues, “What I long to share with her are ordinary summer evenings, cicadas in the sycamores.”  Like so many alienated young women in Percy’s fiction, Moira savors the prospect of catastrophe and is therefore “delighted with the motel,” its “soupcon” of danger.  “Ruins make her passionate,” says Dr. More, which brings to mind Percy’s observation that the “heart’s desire of the alienated man is to see vines sprouting through the masonry.”       Because Dr. More does indeed see vines sprouting through the masonry, he finds Moira attractive for reasons other than her obvious physical charms.  Alienated love, or lust, always grounds itself in illicit or secret “occasional” passion.  As a secretary at Love Clinic, where Masters and Johnson-like experiments are conducted, Moira has surely witnessed every possible extreme of deviant sexuality, which distinguishes her from Lola, who would no doubt dismiss such displays as vulgar.

Otherwise, Moira and Lola and hardly well-developed characters; they occupy minor roles in the novel, incarnating two aspects of a single musical-erotic condition.  Yet Dr. More, who loves all girls, wants both.  “Women,” he says, “are mythical creatures.  They have no more connection with the ordinary run of things than do centaurs.”  But perhaps Dr. More’s fellow madman on the acute ward has more insight than all of the psychiatrists and proctologists of Paradise put together when he takes one look at him: “You want to know your trouble?  You don’t love God, you love pussy.”  At any rate, Moira too abandons Dr. More in the end.  This does not mean he winds up with Ellen by default, for he makes a definite choice in the matter and even sacrifices the Nobel Prize for her sake when he realizes that she is part of Art’s price.

And finally there is Hester, a sexy, post-hippie dropout who more than casually appeals to Dr. More and seems his for the asking as long as he forsakes Paradise and takes up residence in the swamp. “Hester is my type,” he muses: “Post-protestant, post-rebellion, post-ideology—reading Perry Mason on a little ideological island!—reverted all the way she is, clear back to pagan innocence like shepherd girl piping a tune on a Greek vase.”  (Recall, however, what Percy had to say about Earl Stanley Gardner in his essay, “The Man on the Train.”)  Near the end of Love in the Ruins, when Dr. More’s condition has badly deteriorated, after Moira and Lola have departed, and both his personal life and career have reached their nadir, Hester reappears (he had met her in the swamp quite some time before) and looks more tempting than ever.  Moreover, if he dropped out of sight just then he could avoid the disgrace which would inevitably befall him now that doomsday had come and gone and the Bomb didn’t fall.  Nevertheless, he chooses Ellen, even as Art tries to drag her away.  As mentioned, Dr. More finally defeats Art (and art as well) since Ellen represents the moral rather than the aesthetic stage; yet he directs his prayer not to God but to Sir Thomas More.  “Why can’t I follow More’s example, love myself less, God and my fellowman more, and leave whiskey and women alone?” and “Why can I not be merry and loving like my ancestor, gentle, pure-hearted knight for Our Lady and our Blessed Lord and Saviour?”  Only when doctor More rids himself of gnostic hubris and faith in science over God, which he does at this critical point, when in danger of losing everything, can he acquire humility and stop asking unanswerable questions.  The scene is climactic—Art about to drag Ellen away, about to zap Dr. More into musical-erotic splendor, Paradise (Dr. More believes) in ruins: “I close my eyes.  Sir Thomas More, kinsman, saint, best dearest merriest of Englishman, pray for us and drive this son of a bitch hence.”  Whereupon, Art staggers away, dazed, and disappears in a cloud of smoke.  (The parallel here with Jesus’ Get thee behind me Satan is obvious and somewhat disturbing since, ironically, Dr. More, despite newfound humility, is likening himself to Christ.)

Dr. More’s prayer in extremis epitomizes the secret source of strength men of faith hold in reserve.  As a believer he typifies Kierkegaard’s logician of the absurd who accepts faith as a matter of fear and trembling and, therefore, beyond the exigencies of reason.  It follows that he has either eased into complacency or acquired the character as well as the virtues Kierkegaard attributed to the Knight of Faith.  A model citizen at peace with himself and the world, Dr. More seems positively jovial and worthy of his merry ancestor at last.  Not for nothing has he experienced two significant repetitions: a moral repetition, through remarriage, and a religious, through his acceptance of the Eucharist and Father Smith.  Change, then, lies not in Paradise Estates or America or even the world but within each man, an internal affair.  Dr. More sees everything he once saw but through new eyes.

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Perhaps Dr. More out-Kierkegaards Kierkegaard, especially when the philosopher’s personal record comes to mind.  Kierkegaard’s biographer writes that near the end of his life K. railed against the established church and became an ever more extreme defender of radical individualism.  His refusal of the Eucharist on this deathbed signifies an uncompromising nature at odds with the image of religious serenity he himself envisioned when depicting the Knight of Faith.  A critical difficulty here, with respect to Percy’s “debt” to Kierkegaard, is hardly insurmountable.  For one thing, Gabriel Marcel’s more orthodox influence on Percy consistently tempers that of Kierkegaard (see Marcel’s two-volumed, The Mystery of Being.)  Further, that Kierkegaard could not measure up to his own ideal, if indeed such was the case, in no way invalidates the ideal itself.  Finally, Percy’s acceptance of Roman Catholicism as his personal faith more than accounts for the differences with Kierkegaard.  What requires attention is not how closely Percy follows or deviates from the Dane, but the transformation of Dr. More as Percy depicts it in the epilogue of Love in the Ruins.

Dr. More had stopped going to mass and eating Christ for clear enough reasons, the most significant of which was that he felt no guilt.  His friend, Max, asks at one point why that should bother him.  “Because if I felt guilty,” Dr. More replies, “I could get rid of it . . . [by] the sacrament of penance”; “The problem is that if there is no guilt, no contrition, and a purpose of amendment, the sin cannot be forgiven,” which means, “you don’t have life in you.”  Max’s suggestion that he try a Skinner Box hardly amuses him.  He confesses the same lack of contrition and firm amendment to Father Smith, a “gray stiff man” who has also spent time on the acute ward after having a vision of modern man’s living death.  Suspect in the eyes of his parishioners, Father Smith strives to carry on God’s work discreetly and without incident.  And it will be he who administers Christ’s body and blood to Dr. More in the epilogue, representing, as he does, a surviving remnant of the original Catholic Church, which, as explained earlier in the book, has split into three factions.

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When Dr. More receives the Eucharist he still maintains that he feels no guilt or sorrow for his sins; nor has he achieved his firm purpose of amendment.  He continues to lust for young women and imagines delightful infidelities, but at least he no longer stashes girls in abandoned motel rooms.  “Only one woman to my name now . . . but one is enough,” he says.  He has cut down on his drinking but still savors Early Times—and takes Ellen to bed while dead drunk in the closing scene of the novel.  His ambition has waned as well, though he believes firmly as ever in his lapsometer.  “What I want is no longer the Nobel, screw prizes . . . [what I want is] just to figure out what I’ve hit on.  Some day a man will walk into my office as a ghost or beast or ghost-beast and walk out as a man . . . .”  As he awaits the right moment (he no longer imposes the lapsometer upon skeptical colleagues), secure in his conviction that the lapsometer works, he boasts: Even now I can diagnose and shall one day cure . . . the new plague, the modern Black Death, the current hermaphroditism of the spirit . . . .”  This latter may sound familiarly gnostic until one recalls that Percy never discredits scientific progress as such; he discredits only its intrusion into matters beyond its scope.

A Skinner Box cannot cure spiritual malaise, nor, one presumes, can a lapsometer.  The latter may prove effective against mental illness, as, say, the Salk vaccine proved effective against physical illness, but Dr. more never says, nor would he say, that sodium-chloride ionization can replace faith, reunion with being or prayer.  His own experience with Art refutes any such presumption.  Yet because he is a Catholic scientist living in a gnostic age, Dr. More’s sensibility reflects both his calling and his era.  If he has acquired the virtue of patience, which indicates some progress in his long battle against pride, he regards this as a less a personal achievement than as a feature of the new “age” when he states, “In the last age we planned projects and cast ahead of ourselves” whereas now we “watch and listen and wait.”  The implication is that project-oriented planners succumb to gnostic impatience while striving to erect a Secular City rather that the City of God.  Otherwise, as both Dr. More and readers observe, little else has changed.

Yet Dr. More has at this point eaten Christ again and does wear the sackcloth and ashes provided by Father Smith, who absolves him after he confesses not sorrow for his sins but shame.  Clearly, his confession leaves much to be desired; at the same time it heralds a new beginning since the essence of Holy Communion is religious repetition.  One walks into and out of church an identical yet utterly changed person.  Kierkegaard’s Knight of Faith alone among men dramatizes the full scope of this transformation, described by Kierkegaard as “a movement in virtue of the absurd, which occurs when one reaches the bounds of the miraculous.”  The “miraculous” avails itself to the Knight as the “sublime in the pedestrian,” or, the immanent goodness in nature rather than the immanent wickedness perceived by gnostics.  One can gather as much from Kierkegaard’s portrayal of the Knight as follows:

                        . . . he belongs completely to this world, no

Philistine can belong to it more thoroughly . . . .

He is delighted with everything, takes part in

everything, and every interest that engages him

he pursues with a persistence which denotes

the earthly man whose souls is absorbed in

such things.  He is attentive to his business.  When

one sees him at that, one might think him a

quill-driver who had lost his soul to the Italian

book-keeping system, so punctually he is about it.

He keeps Sunday.  He goes to Church.  No heavenly

glance, no sign of the incommensurable betrays

him; if one did not know him, it would be impossible

to distinguish him from the rest of the crowd; for

his healthy, hearty hymn-singing proves at the

most that he has good lungs.  He leans out of the

open window and watches the square on which

he lives—everything that goes on there, how a

rat creeps under the curb of the gutter, how the

children play—as tranquilly occupied with it all

as if he were a girl of 16 years.  And yet he is not

a genius; for I have sought in vain to detect in him

the incommensurability of genius.  He smokes

his pipe in the late afternoon, and seeing him

then one might swear that over there lay a

huckster vegetating in the twilight.[5]


“Vegetating in the twilight” aptly describes what Dr. More means by watching and listening and waiting.  And now behold the Dr. More of the epilogue himself as he prepares a family barbecue:


                                    Barbequing in my sackcloth.

The turkey is smoking well.  The children

have gone to bed., but they’ll be up at dawn to

open their presents.

The night is clear and cold.  There is no moon.

The light of the transmitter lies hard by Jupiter,

ruby and diamond in the plush velvet sky.  Ellen

is busy in the kitchen fixing stuffing and sweet

potatoes.  Somewhere in the swamp a screech owl


I’m dancing around to keep warm, hands in

my pockets.  It is Christmas Day and the Lord is

here, a holy night and surely that is all one needs.

On the other hand I want a drink.  Fetching

the Early Times from a clump of palmetto, I take

six drinks in six minutes.  Now I’m dancing and

singling old Sinatra songs and the Salve Regina,

cutting the fool like David before the ark or like

Walter Huston dancing a jig when he struck it rich

in the Sierra Madre.

The turkey is ready.  I take it into the kitchen

and grab Ellen from behind.  She smells of flour

and stuffing and like a Georgia girl.


Minor details aside, these two portraits project amazingly similar states of social and personal repose.  No “sign of the incommensurable” betrays either Kierkegaard’s Knight or Dr. More, which is perhaps the secret of the religious personality’s negotiation with the world.  (One finds similarly felicitous passages describing the early days of Dr. More’s first marriage.)  The ethical condition symbolized by marriage may therefore serve as a pre-condition for eligibility into the religious stage, although both Kierkegaard and Percy point out that the three spheres, or stages or phases, are not mutually exclusive.  Of course, the Knight never thinks about such things; he is merely what he is, unlike Dr. More, who thinks about such things constantly, and thereby perpetuates his alienation.  Dostoevsky’s dictum that “consciousness is a disease” seems pertinent here—as it does throughout Percy’s work.  (That odd modernist paradox that in order to be an authentic anti-intellectual one must first be an intellectual.)  Indeed, one presumes that Dr. More experiences his most beatific moments when engaged in some mindless task like turning the Christmas turkey on a grill.

Percy’s novel offers no easy solutions to the problems of social anomie and decay, however.  The one “radical cure” for most ailments, Kierkegaard said, is Christianity, and Percy concurs.  But the prescription is personalized rather than collective.  A man lost in the ruins may be able to save his own skin and soul but not necessarily his country, not even if he has invented a lapsometer for precisely that purpose.  As Kierkegaard ever reminds us, salvation is an arduous and perilous enterprise.  It may be that Dr. More’s larger interest in the salvaging of both soul and society amounts to a pipe dream.  All one can finally say it that the seriousness of Love in the Ruins often obscures the fact that Percy has written a delightfully funny, comic novel.  It does not belong to the once designated category of “black humor” (its author takes a clear-cut ideological stand), but, as satire, it revels to some extent in the irreverent spirit of that genre.  As Conrad Hyers (quoting Nathan Scott) maintained long ago in his The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith, the “motions of comedy, to be sure, finally lead to joy . . . . a joy that we win only after we have consented to journey through the familiar, actual world of earth which is our home.”[6] This of course is the journey Dr. More has consented to make.  Hyers goes on:  “Such is the peculiar but very real salvation that the comedian stoops to bring.  It is the comedian who moves within the dustiness and density of the real world, unafraid to get his hands dirty and feet muddy, without anxiety over losing face or tarnishing some polished image.  ‘The comedian is not generally an aviator; he does not journey away from the familiar world or earth; he refuses the experiment of angelism; he will not forget that we are made of dust.’”

Such a critique seems made to order.  And if Hyers is right what more can we ask of Dr. More—or of Percy?




[1] In certain forms the German immer—Dr. More mistakes Art’s name as Immerman at first—can mean more. Art objectifies Dr. More’s most damnable trait, his ambition to be more than an ordinary man.  He does covet the Noble Prize after all.  Further, art of more man is a play on words applicable to the lapsometer itself since it does in a way add more being or substance to those whose index of selfhood barely measures above zero on the gauge.

[2] There is some textual confusion on this point.  Dr. More does indeed treat patients with a lapsometer-ionizer of his own devising long before he meets Art.  We can only say that Dr. More’s ionizer lacks perfection—and is also dangerous in terms of the aforementioned chain reaction.  Art’s ionizer is simply a more finely tuned instrument.  Art takes it with him when he disappears because we find Dr. More in the epilogue complaining again about getting the lapsomenter “right.”  That is, the old problem of unfocused radiation.

[3] I am well aware of feminist and other critics who complain that Percy’s women characters (as well as his African-Americans) amount to little more than stereotypes, if that.  When one reads Percy’s fiction not as “realistic” but rather as allegorical treatises examining ideas then such critiques can be somewhat tempered.  Women, however stereotypical, play major roles in Percy’s work in the same vein as Regine Olsen for Kierkegaard and even Beatrice for Dante.  Women are the vessels of salvation for Percy’s lost, fragmented and male malaisians.

[4] For a further (and breathtaking) exploration on Percy’s “angelism/bestialism” and orbiting abstract selves, consult Lost in the Cosmos:  The Last Self-Help Book.

[5] Walter Lowrie, Kierkegaard, vol. I (Peter Smith, 1970), 267-270.  Lowrie’s landmark biography was originally published in 1938.

[6] Conrad Hyers, The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith: A Celebration of Life and Laughter (Pilgirm Press, 1981), 95.  Every Percy reader should consult this volume.  Its insights into religious comedy apply directly to Percy.


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