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Livy At Washington

Nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus…

If history is one big abortion,
Then we’ve been done in by the specialists,
Whose confidence dims imagination.
The kids are good; the folks are not at home:
Orgasms vie with evolutionists—
And both will consume the same gay freedom
Whereby cool electrons slake the frisson
Of immanent democracy. So make
Mine a concrete, balloted passion—
The kind you get with a penny gumball,
What you might taste in a five-star beefsteak.
But form matters little to the hungry soul
When microphones crackle, truth to tell,
What prompts a heaven in humanity’s hell.

All I Ever Had

Novum Organum

In other publishing news, friends of Korrektiv Kerry Lea Perkins have teamed up with semiotician (and Percy correspondent) Ken Kettner and published a new book by Percy, Symbol and Existence: A Study in Meaning: Explorations of Human Nature:

SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE will prove fascinating to Walker Percy scholars and fans who wish to decipher Percy’s authentic philosophical stance. Percy, an existentialist Catholic at his core, was also a scientist seeking an objective paradigm to portray his views. SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE demonstrates that Percy was quite methodical and logical in his thought and provides an entirely new perspective on his scholarship. Much of this book is unique and has never been published before; however, some sections were revised and published as isolated journal articles or book chapters, never presented as the unified whole that Percy intended. The orderly unity of Percy’s work has not previously been accessible to scholars and fans.

SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE’s systematic presentation and its new material offer fresh insight and a more accurate view of Percy’s ideas. His early philosophical writings were often revised and significantly modified by outside editorial intent to conform to prevailing intellectual currents of the time. Readers of some published articles with corresponding passages in SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE will be surprised to discover major changes in meaning from Percy’s initial writing due to editorial intrusion and loss of context upon their removal from SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE.

As the only known systematic representation of Percy’s general working theory, SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE gives an important framework for his diverse intellectual background–philosophy and psychology, medicine and anthropology, semiotics and zoology–creating a coherent view of Percy’s “radical anthropology.”

SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE will prove fascinating to Walker Percy scholars and fans who wish to decipher Percy’s authentic philosophical stance. Percy, an existentialist Catholic at his core, was also a scientist seeking an objective paradigm to portray his views. SYMBOL AND EXISTENCE demonstrates that Percy was quite methodical and logical in his thought and provides an entirely new perspective on his scholarship. Much of this book is unique and has never been published before; however, some sections were revised and published as isolated journal articles or book chapters, never presented as the unified whole that Percy intended. The orderly unity of Percy’s work has not previously been accessible to scholars and fan

Korrektiv in the New York Times

I once heard a rumor that suffering gives authority.

Go ahead and call it an attempted comeback. Here’s where we’ve got to get back to if we’re going to get back at all: Friend of Korrektiv Bishop Daniel Flores (pictured above) telling the Times that he follows “The Korrektiv blog, which is by a number of different writers who look up to Walker Percy, whom I also like.” The good bishop used to be a blogger himself, though it seems he’s deeper into Twitter these days. Led there, no doubt, by the sensus fidelium. I liked this line: “Know what you must in conscience vigorously oppose in the agendas of whomever it is you decide to vote for; know these things at least as well, if not better, than you know what you can support.”

A Book Was Written

And there is a Walker Percy connection, believe it or not

In Memoriam: Paul Zimmer

Paul Zimmer: 1934-2019

I. The Visit

For Paul and Suzanne Zimmer and Cele Wolf

With sunlight pouring through the windows, March
Retreats and winter’s windy shadows shake
The shadows’ fruit from changing light. The lurch
And sway of barren limbs (no leaves to speak
Within the secret ear of spring) now cast
Their shadows through the room. We visit there
And lunch on whiskey’s fire – a sip, a taste,
Enough to warm remembrance with desire.

That afternoon your visit was a gift —
To know that spring came early and put
The bloom of meaning to books and birds.
Our host, the town’s librarian, had laughed
To think that here the dance of drink and thought
Had found a way with words — a way to words.

(For a sampling of Mr. Zimmer’s work, go here.)

A Babbsian Commentary on the Gospel of Aristotle

Today’s world offers an abundance of conveniences for daily life. We are able to order food at the touch of button, have clothing and any other necessity shipped right to our door, and with a simple tap on your screen you can “friend” someone.

This noun, conveying a positive relationship between two people, is now used as a verb — perhaps denoting a shift in the meaning of the word from being an absolute good — something necessary for human happiness — to becoming a contingent good — something useful designed to help us achieve some further goal. After all, the practice of “friending” and “unfriending” seems to carry no more weight these days than balancing one’s bank account or processing an insurance claim….

My dad gave me

My dad gave me
The history
Of future things
That he could see

And when I saw
The fatal flaw
He showed how mercy
Breaks the law

‘… On the Wings of the Wind …’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

… he came, cherub-mounted, borne up on the wings of the wind….

Pslam 18:11

Rachel Alexander on the Latest Disaster

Over at the Law & Libwrty Blog, Rachel Alexander has some thoughts about updating one of Percy’s better known theories:


Walker Percy had an eccentric theory about disasters. Despite the modern consensus that calamities should be avoided at all costs, the National Book Award-winning novelist speculated that most people actually prefer them to safe, healthy, “good” environments. Moreover, the joie de vivre folks tend to experience in the middle of a crisis (think Louisiana “hurricane parties”) is, Percy posited, the most natural and healthy response for an inhabitant of modernity, with all its technological prowess and progress. Does the COVID-19 outbreak—a disaster if there ever was one—qualify as Percy’s “catastrophe as catalyst in the ontology of joy”? For Percy, the advantage of a disaster lies in its capacity to break through the humdrum, detached routines of modern living. The current pandemic, by contrast, requires us to double down on these very routines, thus revealing limits to Percy’s theory, but making it all the more important to understand.

Read the rest of Rachel’s version here:

The Perverted Salve of Power Outages and Close Quarters