How Queer Man Is

Micheal Mikolajczak suggests that the three main sections of Lost in the Cosmos correspond to the three parts of the subtitle of The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do With the Other. Perhaps that can serve as a starting point for a discussion of the the first 12 multiple-choice questions.

Does this first section of Lost in the Cosmos succeed in outlining how queer man is (or, to avoid any giggling over the terms: how freakin’ odd people are)? Do the mid-20th Century pop-culture references date the book? Have circumstances improved or worsened or changed since Percy wrote the book? How has the rise of the Internet impacted the predicament outlined by Percy in the first part of the book?

In the preliminary quiz, Percy compiles a list of possible selves, or ways in which we try to fit ourselves into the world. He exempts all but the “lost” self from continuing with the book. Which of the selves in Percy’s list are most popular these days? Which ones do you identify with? Have new varieties of self-concept arisen since Percy wrote? Are folks more or less likely to see themselves as lost nowadays?


  1. Henri Young says

    Percy’s categories still work pretty well. Evangelicals, sports fans and travelers, geographical are all still with us.

    Cultural consumerism might be more of a factor now. And what about the Green movement?

  2. Rufus McCain says

    By the Green movement, do you mean the supposed “hype” over global warming? I’m not sure Percy would think it’s hype (since I don’t think it is). But I could imagine him taking an interest in the apocalyptic element of it. How thrilled people are to be faced with the prospect of: maybe we did manage to really fuck up the earth. And that the political polarities are even divided on this basic issue.

    Regarding depression and the ascendancy of Prozac et al. I imagine Percy would have some interesting things to say. I wonder if the ex-suicide idea has ever been used in psychotherapy. I personally go back to it on a regular basis.

    And then Percy quotes some stats on porn video rental, which trend has blossomed into full flower with Internet porn. We’ve got the Last Donahue show here, but what would Percy make of Jerry Springer et al.? More of the same, only more so, I guess.

    Also with the Internet and the advance of cable TV etc, ever increasing options for diversion, for being the diverted self. Everything has been spread a lot thinner since 1983. The breeding ground for the malaise has spread (to venture into The Moviegoer territory) and at the same time a frantic underswell everyone senses. You know something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones.

  3. angelmeg says

    Does anyone remember when Mr Springer first began his talk show and gave that impassioned speech in which he said he would not descend into the depths to which his counterparts in the television talk show industry had sunk?

    I remember so clearly the day he made that speech and then just a scant few years later he was doing sex fetishes and paternity tests and worse.

    Ratings rule!

  4. Henri Young says

    The whole reflection thing he does at the end of each episode must be intentional irony. I just can’t stop laughing every time I see it.

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