Neo-Nazi Notes on The Moviegoer

If passing a Jew on the street is like Robinson Crusoe seeing a footprint in the sand, to what shall we compare bumping into a Nazi on the Internet?

The Moviegoer Word Cloud

Why didn’t Binx participate in the Krewes?


Josef Pieper may not have the total answer (although a total answer is perhaps found elsewhere in the same book), but this passage is too interesting not to share:

“Festivity is impossible to the naysayer. The more money he has, and above all the more leisure, the more desperate is this impossiblity to him.

“This is also true of the man who refuses to approve the fact of his own existence – having fallen into that mysterious, ineffable ‘despair from weakness’ of which Soren Kierkegaard has spoken and which in the old moral philosophy went by the name of acedia, ‘slothfulness of the heart.’ At issue is a refusal regarding the very heart and fountainhead of existence itself, because of the ‘despair of not willing to be oneself’ which makes man unable to live with himself. He is driven out of his own house – into a hurly-burly of work-and-nothing-else, into the fine-spun exhausting game of sophistical phrase-mongering, into incessant ‘entertainment’ by empty stimulants – in short, into a no man’s land which may be quite comfortably furnished, but which has no place for the serenity of intrinsically meaningful activity, for contemplation, and certainly not for festivity” [Emphasis mine].  – from In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity, pp.27-28 (1999, St. Augustine Press, South Bend, Ind.).


My submission for Binx casting

Glenn Ford has the no-place/someplace conundrum going for him in a way that Mr. Peck never could.

In any of his films, his lodestar is his being in despair without knowing he’s in despair.



Do Me Like Akim

For Lonnie our Sundays together have a program. First we talk, usually on a religious subject; then we take a ride; then he asks me to do him like Akim…. During my last year in college I discovered that I was picking up the mannerisms of Akim Tamiroff, the only useful thing, in fact, that I learned in the entire four years. (The Moviegoer, p. 164-5)

Akim Tamiroff in a scene with Janet Leigh in Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil

Do We Know What Binx Bolling Looks Like?

This question arose among the kollektiv the other day, while we were all sitting in our hotel room in Reno where we’re holed up working on our presentations for the Moviegoer conference.

Well, here’s what Binx says:

“I am a tall black-headed fellow and I know as well as he [i.e., Gregory Peck] how to keep to myself, make my eyes fine and my cheeks spare, tuck my lip and say a word or two with a nod or two.”

And then there’s Sam Waterston, who was cast to play Binx in the movie adaptation which never came to be:

And then there’s the tall (formerly) black-headed fellow named Jonathan Webb. If you want to see what he looks like, you’ll have to meet us in New Orleans.

“… his Archie Moore mustache …”

O Rory Rory Rory

Rory Calhoun as Bill Longley, in a wacky episode of The Texan from 1958. Thought experiment: imagine Binx and Mrs. Schexnaydre watching this together on channel 12 one evening.

From IMDB: “After Longley is forced to kill a barfly that tried to shoot him in the back, he learns a quirk in the Montana law code — any man who slays another in a fair fight is responsible for the care and feeding of the widow and children until she gets married. Longley’s efforts to escape the snare all come to naught because the widow is in love with him and wants him for a husband ….”

The Late H. B. Warner (1875-1958)

The killers go out in a gruff manner and fetch the padre, a fellow who looks as much like the late H. B. Warner as it is possible for a man to look. The Moviegoer, p. 108

Dana Andrews


Charles Boyer and Adolph Menjou

His lips move muscularly, molding words into pleasing shapes, marshalling arguments, and during the slight pauses are held poised, attractively everted in a Charles Boyer pout — while a little web of saliva gathers in a corner like the clear oil of a good machine. — The Moviegoer, p.18

Mercer is a chesty sand-colored Negro with a shaved head and a dignified Adolph Menjou mustache. Ibid, p. 22.

Flannery to Walker

As requested by Angelico (ask and ye shall receive):

Letter from Flannery O’Connor to Walker Percy, dated 29 March 1962, from The Walker Percy Papers, UNC Chapel Hill Libraries.

Prytania Street


The K-team will be presenting papers at Loyola U’s The Moviegoer at Fifty conference … and we’ll all be staying on Prytania Street to boot. Anybody game for a meet-up? Let’s get together and toast the going under of the evening land!

A.J. Liebling and The Moviegoer

“Unlikely as it sounds, The Moviegoer won the National Book Award in large part because of writer A. J. Liebling’s interest in Earl Long and Louisiana politics.” — Jay Tolson, Pilgrim in the Ruins


I was supposed to prepare a talk for the Moviegoer conference …

… but then a peculiar thing happened.



Like a Slow-Release Drug

Patrick at Plastic Beatitude turned me on to another fine essay, this one by Jim Santel at The Millions, in observance of 50th Anniversary of The Moviegoer.

F. Scott Fitzgerald thought “the purpose of a work of fiction is to appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader’s mind.” Other than Fitzgerald’s own works, I’ve never read a novel whose power lies so fully not in the course of being read, but in the astral glow of having been read. When I completed The Moviegoer for the first time, I was at a loss to explain the significance of the 242 pages I’d just traversed, but I knew they had been important. I felt the novel working on me in strange ways, like a slow-release drug. That so much of The Moviegoer’s effect is felt when it’s not being read can be attributed not to some defect in Percy’s prose, but rather to the nature of the novel’s moral project. Read more …

Santel seems to be grokking something John Desmond touched on here as well.

It Happened One Night

From The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Panickers in the Streets (of New Orleans) Coming This October

There will be several of us hereabouts that might be feeling a bit of that old-time certifiable panic coming on because we’re purporting to deliver papers at a litter-airy conference.

In a related story, the neighborhood gets certified:

From The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (Part 1, Ch. 7)

That’s right, you can watch the entire movie right here in the Korrektiv Old Orleans Theatre. So pop some popcorn, put your feet up, gather the wife and kids around the laptop, and try not to slip clean out of existence.