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‘the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric’

He [i.e., Lactantius] delighted in writing, in the joinery and embellishment of his sentences*, in the consciousness of high rare virtue when every word had been used in its purest and most precise sense, in the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric. Words could do anything except generate their own meaning.

–Evelyn Waugh, Helena (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012), Nook edition, chap. 6, p. 8.

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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’)

The many selves of Krista – or, things to discuss with ourselves over drinks as we watch a sunset/sunrise on Guemes Island

alpha cent

I thought this an interesting read, worth some discussion, especially since Walker Percy haunts the margins of the piece but never quite makes an appearance:

The Romantic conception of self-knowledge as a quest for “authenticity,” to some extent a revolt against the rigidity of the Enlightenment model, is still very much with us, particularly in the argot of the New Age and self-help movements. More importantly, one must point to the rich tradition of Christian thought and praxis, which assumes that each person is the unique creation and image of a loving God, a duality of body and soul destined for immortality. There are many variants of the Christian discourse on the self, but none of them has ever posited a purely autonomous paradigm of selfhood. Indeed, one might suggest that the postmodern, decentered self is simply the all but inevitable outcome of a process of secularization that began in the 17th century. Robbed of its metaphysical foundation, the Enlightenment or, later, the Romantic self has grown increasingly attenuated and subject to disintegration.

‘A Darwin and a Catholic?’

“That I freely chose to be a Catholic after much thought and analysis, and wasn’t brainwashed into it, baffle my friends and family alike,” she writes. “I overheard one comment: ‘But she seemed like such an intelligent girl.’ So when people ask ‘A Darwin and a Catholic?’ what they’re saying is that I confound expectations.”

And more of her own words here.

h/t CTIL

N.b. NASA’s Goal for 2023

Coming Soon

Marvel’s Kierkegaardians of the Galaxy: Lost in the Cosmos:

guardians-of-the-galaxy-photos-concept-art-full-guardians-of-the-galaxy-gets-a-whole-host-of-cute-marvel-minimates

Paging Dr. Percy

So I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film very much about the importance of the artist.

grand-budapest-hotel
And at the end, there was a note about how the film was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Over at The New Yorker, Richard Brody shone a little light on the connection. Naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of Zweig in the magazine. Ah – a suicide. And naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of suicide’s resurgence, also in the magazine.

Artists, suicides, Zweig…ah. Of course. A Moveable Piece: Stefan Zweig and Walker Percy’s Problem of Artist-Writer Reentry, Jennifer Levasseur’s very fine presentation (attended by several members of the Kollektiv) at the second Walker Percy Conference (not to be confused with the Walker Percy Weekend, which somehow has yet to be mentioned on this blog).

Perhaps Dr. Percy is not quite as doomed to the past as I had feared. When I applied for the Amtrak writer thingy, I pitched The Last Gentlemen. Hoo!

Rhababerbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel

My oldest’s newest nickname…

(Not to be confused with that other fella, Johann Gambolputty-de-von-Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crass-cren-bon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelter-wasser-kurstlich-himble-eisenbahnwagen-guten-abend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwürstel-gespurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumeraber-schönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittleraucher-von-Hautkopft of Ulm.)

Boom.

990707-N-6483G-001

Most groups of people who get tagged by history as a “generation” can be described in an easy, offhand way: as folks sort of the same age experiencing sort of the same things in sort of the same place, like the cast of “Cheers” or “Seinfeld” or “Friends.” I’m pretty sure—as a result of taking Modern Literature in college—that Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, Henry Miller and Ezra Pound were roommates in a big apartment on the Left Bank in Paris in the 1920s. (If not, I give this idea for a sitcom away for free to the reader.)

Point of Departure

goin south

“Note however, that reentry by travel and also exile…nearly always takes place in a motion from a northern place to a southern place.”