Mr. Fueston may have a point here:

We are [still] lost in the Cosmos as Walker Percy said, but he didn’t help matters any. He was sometimes described as a Thomistic Catholic, but looking back to the years when I read several of Dr. Percy’s books, I fear he was probably reading Kierkegaard while thinking he was reading Aquinas. Kierkegaard re-discovered some of the insights of St. Thomas Aquinas but his attacks upon essentialist ways of thought were brutally unbalanced so that he showed no understanding of the importance of substance in this universe created by the God who is His own Act-of-being. Without an appreciation of substance, a thinker will lose sight of the goodness of Creation and will fall into the blackish moods common to Luther and Kierkegaard, Barth and Percy. [Read more.]

On the other hand, despite his indebtedness to Kierkegaard, I think Percy would opt for Aquinas when push came to shove — as evidenced by the essay, “The Message in the Bottle,” among others. The sacramental vision of Hopkins served Percy as a corrective to some of SK’s excesses, and yet Hopkins himself was prone to blackish moods as well. I would say a clear view of the goodness of creation might even (at times) contribute to some of this melancholia due to an accompanying clear view of the contrast with the reality of sin and death clinging like a parasite to that good Creation.


  1. Deep Furrows says

    It’s interesting that Hopkins was highly preoccupied with the self as was Percy (see Ong’s masterful Hopkins, the Self, and God). Hopkins was something of a Scotist, however (and a convert from Anglicanism).

    Percy’s depression, however, came from his family history – and he fared a lot better with it than most in his family (his father killed himself as did others in his family tree).


  2. Rufus McCain says

    Good points. And I guess you could say Kierkegaard shares in that preoccupation with the self. Aquinas, and the deposit of our Catholic faith considered as a whole, probably strike a healthier balance. Maybe there is a necessary postmodern medicinal corrective at work in this aspect of Hopkins/Kierkegaard/Percy. All three are wounded fellows, that’s for sure, and part of their power is that they name our own woundedness and meet us there.

  3. Big Jon, Bully says

    Percy is in good company when it comes to blackish moods; C.S Lewis, John of the Cross, St.Paul.

    Blackish moods have a good spiritual pedegree.

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