Roger Sterling, Lost in the Cosmos

Detail of a frame from Mad Men Season 4, Episode 2, ‘Christmas Comes but Once a Year’

Detail of a frame from Mad Men Season 4, Episode 2, ‘Christmas Comes but Once a Year’

[W]hat is not generally recognized is that the successful launch of self into the orbit of transcendence is necessarily attended by problems of reentry. What goes up must come down. The best film of the year ends at nine o’clock. What to do at ten? […]

Options of reentry into [the everyday] world [include]: […]

(4) Reentry by travel (sexual). One has a succession of lovers […]. It is difficult to imagine the self of the autonomous artist in his singular and godlike abstraction from the ordinary world of men settling down with a wife and family any more than Jove settling down with Juno. Juno — yuck! […] Better to grow old alone in the desert, sit on a rock like a Navajo. But how lovely are the daughters of men! Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is the very paradigm of the reentry of the ghost-self back into the incarnate world whence it came.

–Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 2011), Nook edition, chap. 14.


Frame from Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7, 'Waterloo'

Frame from Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7, ‘Waterloo’

ROGER STERLING (July 21, 1969)

Did you see we landed on the moon? Neil Armstrong, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? Screw every girl in Florida, I guess.

–Carly Wray and Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 7, Episode 7 (‘Waterloo’)


  1. “Yuck – Juno!”

    That gets me every time.

    Still laughing…


  2. Fantastic. I guess walking on the moon is wasted on boy scouts like Armstrong.

  3. Louise Orrock says

    I’m sorry not to read and comment more. It’s like living in slime here in the last couple of years, although we’ve had some nice weather this year, in terms of some of what you see and hear and read, and it puts me off being online. I hope the contributors are well and read what I wrote about medical science if they hadn’t already known it. Here is the summary again in case anyone didn’t know.

    Medical science

    If we set aside, as Descartes asks us to, the foundational facts of science that we have been told (for example that the earth travels around the sun at 66600 miles per hour –from 18.5 miles per second), and instead rely on observation, common sense (derived from observation) and reasoning to decide what is most likely to be true, it seems unlikely that virus cells would survive in the human body, travel, harm, cause alteration, or even exist, and that the illnesses associated with hypothetical HIV infection result from the treatment and fatalism associated with diagnosis.

    Even if one assumes that viral cells are only able to survive and travel within the human body, despite variations in body temperature, nutrition and hydration, and in the viscosity and density of bodily fluids and parts, and even if one assumes that they have a motive (mechanical or conscious) for harming and killing their host, a virus cell that is initially imperceptible to the senses, and which remains invisible to the eye, will not possess the ability to inflict harm (by force, toxicity, or ’cell’ alteration) by whatever number it is multiplied, ie, however many cells eventually inhabit the body. This is at least because the capacity of a large number of cells to inflict harm would not be substantially greater than that of the individual cell (as the sound of a large number of birds will not be significantly, if at all, greater than that of a single bird). However, even if the individual cells were able to act as a single, larger substance, the fact that the virus cell is apparently invisibly small to the eye implies that by whatever number it is multiplied it will have no volume or weight and so not be capable of harm or hypothetical alteration of host ‘cells’ for the reason that an organism that is invisible to the eye does not exist. The eye can detect tiny organisms, whereas relatively limited magnification would not produce a clear image. The image one sees most clearly under magnification will be of the same size as it appears at close range to the eye alone, so that what one sees when looking into a microscope is most likely to be an image of ‘cells’ contained within the microscope overlaying any substance on the slide.

    What kills in the case of apparently fatal illnesses such as those associated with HIV infection, including cancer, is a cumulative weakening caused by drugs, poverty, stress and fatalism. As you do not need gravity to explain why things fall to earth, you do not need HIV infection and associated diseases such as cancer (about which one ought also to be sceptical on the basis of microscopy alone) to explain why people who have received a diagnosis of either might fall ill and die.

  4. Louise Orrock says

    What I will say, however, is that I don’t think it is necessarily near the wend of the world, and that millenarianism is an excuse for fascism.

    I started commenting on here after I was sent a link – or found it by looking up a link on another link in an email I was sent – at work shortly after I returned from the US in 2008. I had stopped contributing on another forum and thought this might in some way be connected to it but also that it seemed a bit more highbrow than the one I had been contributing on.

    I am not sure, however, that it is the same people, and although I have found things on it to be good, and enjoyed some of the poems in the booklets you published, it can also seem fairly creepy.

    What do you mean, bad Catholics? I have found Catholicism too superstitious in the past, but I might have been confusing the religion with the particular adherents, since I didn’t feel the same about Catholics from Europe or Latin America, and I respect some of the little I know about its ideas and realise it has been undermined by the attack on priests. I do wonder, however, to what extent the whole things was invented to undermine the West, at least, in the sense that it might soon come to seem more implausible than other religons, including other monotheistic ones.

  5. Louise Orrock says

    If you are bad Catholics in the sense of knowing what has been happening and not attempting to stop it, then, yes, I agree you are bad.

    Another thing I am certain of, in the sense of repeated observation, is that animals are vastly more intelligent than us. I don’t know how widely this is known, although it seems from the photographs that the encyclopedia writers might know it. For example, it has occurred to me that the encyclopedias are written by those animals able to type and the manuscripts sent anonymously to publishers. I also am certain that they can read out thoughts.

  6. Louise Orrock says

    In that sense, they would not be intervening, in that they would not attempt to rewrite history or challenge facts, but would hint, rather than confuse.

  7. Louise Orrock says

    I’ve also thought for the first time that k is to c as p is to h: ie, vip.

  8. Louise Orrock says

    By the way, the email address I have put down almost every time since I first contributed comments in 2008 was an old one that I was no longer able to access. It was one I used until about 2007, when I changed to the googlemail one as I then didn’t have to delete emails because it had more space. Soon after I changed, I could no longer access it – I can’t now – but I did occasionally put it as an email address so as to remain anonymous on what could be viewed, since it didn’t have my name in it, not so I couldn’t be contacted. But if anyone had tried to contact me, I wouldn’t have responded.

  9. Louise,

    “Bad Catholics” is taken from the subtitle for Walker Percy’s novel Love in the Ruins, which reads, “The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World.” What Percy means by “Bad” here is this (also taken from the novel): “I believe in God and the whole business, but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth, and my fellowman hardly at all.”

    The usage here on the blog is somewhat tongue in cheek, and also somewhat devotional – we’re all Percy fans here. But there is also this aspect to it: we acknowledge our sinfulness. We are not as good as we ought to be, and we are not as good at practicing Catholicism as we ought to be.

    Personally, I think that if animals were more intelligent than we are, they would make better art.

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