Nuns and Naked Women

Somebody said that the only interesting thing about New Orleans was that it smelled different. There are whiffs of ground coffee and a congeries of smells which one imagines to be the “naval stores” that geography books were always speaking of. Yet the peculiar flavor of New Orleans is more than a smell. It has something to do with the South and with a cutting off from the South, with the River and with history. New Orleans is both intimately related to the South and yet in a real sense cut adrift not only from the South but from the rest of Louisiana, somewhat like Mont-St.-Michel awash at high tide. One comes upon it, moreover, in the unlikeliest of places, by penetrating the depths of the Bible Belt, running the gauntlet of Klan territory, the pine barrens of south Mississippi, Bogalusa, and the Florida parishes of Louisiana. Out and over a watery waste and there it is, a proper enough American city, and yet within the next few hours the tourist is apt to see more nuns and naked women than he ever saw before. And when he opens the sports pages to follow the Packers, he comes across such enigmatic headlines as HOLY ANGELS SLAUGHTER SACRED HEART. It is as if Marseilles had been plucked off the Midi, monkeyed with by Robert Moses and Hugh Hefner, and set down off John O’Groats in Scotland. — Walker Percy, “New Orleans Mon Amour,” Signposts in a Strange Land, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991, p. 11-12.


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    Great minds think alike. I had my SIGNPOSTS IN A STRANGE LAND out last week, but the blog wouldn’t let me into the dashboard.

    I was going to out potter Potter!

  2. Jonathan Potter says

    Yes, yes, but you didn’t, did you.

  3. Jonathan Webb says


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