Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

Walter Isaacson on Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes

In yesterday’s issue:

Walker Percy had a theory about hurricanes. “Though science taught that good environments were better than bad environments, it appeared to him that the opposite was the case,” he wrote of Will Barrett, the semi-autobiographical title character of his second novel, “The Last Gentleman.” “Take hurricanes, for example, certainly a bad environment if ever there was one. It was his impression that not just he but other people felt better in hurricanes.”

Percy was a medical doctor who didn’t practice and a Catholic who did, which equipped him to embark on a search for how we mortals fit into the cosmos. Our reaction to hurricanes was a clue, he believed, which is why leading up to the 10th anniversary of Katrina, it’s worth taking note not only of his classic first novel, “The Moviegoer,” but also of his theory of hurricanes as developed in “The Last Gentleman,” “Lancelot” and some of his essays.

Percy lived on the Bogue Falaya, a lazy, ­bayou-like river across Lake Pontchartrain from my hometown, New Orleans. He was a kindly gentleman whose face knew despair but whose eyes often smiled. With his wry philosophical depth and lightly worn grace, he was acutely aware of his alienation from the everyday world, but he could be an engaged companion when sitting on his porch sipping bourbon or holding court with aspiring writers at a lakefront seafood joint named Bechac’s. “My ideal is Thomas More, an English Catholic . . . who wore his faith with grace, merriment and a certain wryness,” he once said. That describes Percy well.

Indeed it does. Thank you, Walter

But will it also be true of earthquakes, when the really big one comes?

The Casa Missives – I

casa-building

Older Son graduated high school this year and instead of heading straight into college – perhaps to join his sister, Oldest Daughter, here – he has decided to take up an invitation from one of our diocesan priests who happens to be director of our diocesan-sponsored orphanage, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II in Lurin (suburb of Lima), Peru. I will occasionally be posting updates as he plans to Youtube his experiences; so call it a guest posting or or call it a running narrative of a non-traditional trajectory to higher learning or call it a first hand account of a young man discerning his vocation. Whatsoever it turns out to be, there are some folk in southwest Wisconsin pretty proud right now…

 

Dear Papa, Mama, Barbara,Bernadette , Norah, Liam, Annie, Mara, Lucy and Claudia!!

I am just letting you know that I made it and that I am settling in fine. My Spanish is very rough but I’m working hard on it!! All the kids are incredibly cute even though I can’t understand most of what they say!! I took some videos of my plane flight but I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Lima because apparently people sometimes break the car windows just to steal cameras out of your hands.(yeah that’s a thing here) but I will try to get some pictures/videos of Casa Hogar and get them to you ASAP. It’s really hard getting used to not hearing my name so much because I had to pick a new name (they don’t have the SH sound) and I decided on Patricio (Spanish for Patrick) now before you go around saying my new name wrong remember to roll the R and the P doesn’t really make a P sound its sorta a genetic hybrid between a P and a B and the best way to know if you’re saying it right or not is to hold your hand a little ways away from your mouth and if you can feel the air you’re probably saying it wrong I miss you lots and love you that much more!!

~ Love Seamus (a.k.a. Patricio)

from The Apologizer by Milan Kundera

There’s just loads of French out there to read these days. Not just a new Houellebecq novel, but another Kundera book as well. The Festival of Insignificance will be his first novel in more than a decade. I’m in the midst of the French version, but the translation comes out next month and I seriously doubt I’ll finish it before then. Here is a selection of a selection in The New Yorker a few weeks back:

It was the month of June, the morning sun was emerging from the clouds, and Alain was walking slowly down a Paris street. He observed the young girls: every one of them showed her naked navel between trousers belted very low and a T-shirt cut very short. He was captivated, captivated and even disturbed: it was as if their seductive power resided no longer in their thighs, their buttocks, or their breasts but in that small round hole at the center of the body.

This provoked him to reflect: if a man (or an era) sees the thighs as the center of female seductive power, how does one describe and define the particularity of that erotic orientation? He improvised an answer: the length of the thighs is the metaphoric image of the long, fascinating road (which is why the thighs must be long) that leads to erotic achievement. Indeed, Alain said to himself, even in mid-coitus the length of the thighs endows woman with the romantic magic of the inaccessible.

If a man (or an era) sees the buttocks as the center of female seductive power, how does one describe and define the particularity of that erotic orientation? He improvised an answer: brutality, high spirits, the shortest road to the goal, a goal that is all the more exciting for being double.

If a man (or an era) sees the breasts as the center of female seductive power, how does one describe and define the particularity of that erotic orientation? He improvised an answer: sanctification of woman, the Virgin Mary suckling Jesus, the male sex on its knees before the noble mission of the female sex.

But how does one define the eroticism of a man (or an era) that sees female seductive power as centered in the middle of the body, in the navel?

How? indeed! Read more here.

Tagged: Death

A fun little jaunt through the last 700 1,400 years of death.

Coming Soon: The Tale of Tales

Or, in the original Italian, Il racconto dei racconti, because it was directed by Matteo Garrone, who gave us the excellent Gomorrah. And a few others that I haven’t seen yet, but will try to get to before Tale of Tales comes out later this summer.

This new film looks a bit like some of those Guillermo del Toro movies from a few years back … but based on Gomorrah, I’m hopeful this will be even better. It’s based on a book by the seventeenth century author Giambattista Basile called The Pentamerone (at Wikipedia, anyway), or in the original Neapolitan, Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille, “The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones”. That’s quite a title for the entertainment of Little Ones, and seeing Salma Hayek chow down on dinosaur sushi doesn’t lead me to believe my nieces would enjoy it.

The reviews are beginning to come in, and while the critics don’t seem to be overwhelmingly enthusiastic, I’ll hold out hope until I see it myself.