Thought Experiment

Imagine Walker Percy in place of Norman Mailer here.

That’s sort of what my Still Lost in the Cosmos paper (co-authored with Read Schuchardt) will aim to do.

Rumor has it, McLuhan’s library (now in his son’s possession) contains several heavily annotated Percy titles.

See Also.

See you in New Orleans.


  1. Did they get The Byrds to do the intro music on that one?

    Cool jangles, at any rate.


  2. Whereas my paper will be mostly fart noises, accentuated by the occasional slide whistle.

  3. Best introduction ever: “Mailer’s career is studded with literary success and stained with matrimonial failure. It had it’s early beginnings with “The Naked and the Dead”, a bestseller that brought him instant fame. Recent years have been lean, but last October her joined 50,000 American in a march on the Pentagon to protest the war in Vietnam.”

    Brrrr! That was cold!

    Notice how “Naked and the Dead” might refer to both literary success *and* to matrimonial failure.

    Love the Woody Allen intro w Tom Wolfe.

  4. Getting stoked about this conference! From an interview in the Paris Review, perhaps a revisit, for fun and anticipation…

    I’m interested in that “more likely she.” Hmmm…


    Nonfiction. Lost in the Cosmos?


    Lost in the Cosmos was a sly, perhaps even devious, attempt to approach a semiotic of the self. Circumspection was necessary here, because semioticists have no use for the self, and votaries of the self—poets, humanists, novel-readers, et cetera—have no use for semiotics. It was a quite ambitious attempt actually, not necessarily successful, to derive the self, a very nebulous entity indeed, through semiotics, specifically the emergence of self as a consequence of the child’s entry into the symbol-mongering world of men—and even more specifically, through the acquisition of language. What was underhanded about the book was the insertion of a forty-page “primer of semiotics” in the middle of the book with a note of reassurance to the reader that he could skip it if he wanted to. Of course I was hoping he, or more likely she, would be sufficiently intrigued to take the dare and read it, since it is of course the keystone of the book. Having derived the self semiotically, then the fun came from deriving the various options of the self semiotically—the various “re-entries” of the self from the orbits most people find themselves in. Such options are ordinarily regarded as the territory of the novelist, the queer things his characters do. The fun was like the fun of Mendeleyev who devised his periodic table of elements and then looked to see if all the elements were there. Technically speaking, it was a modest attempt to give the “existentialia” of Heidegger some semiotic grounding—this, of course, in the ancient tradition of Anglo-Saxon empiricism administering therapy to the European tendency to neurotic introspection. It was also fun to administer a dose of semiotics to Phil Donahue and Carl Sagan, splendid fellows both, but who’s perfect?

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      … the ancient tradition of Anglo-Saxon empiricism administering therapy to the European tendency to neurotic introspection…

      Possibly some extra fodder for my Walker Percy/David Foster Wallace paper there. In any event, a good read. Thanks!

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