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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.

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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’)

of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of Reruns of

It'sNotCalledTheWheel

‘What else is there?’

Frames from Mad Men Episode 5.8, 'Lady Lazarus'

Frames from Mad Men Season 5, Episode 8, ‘Lady Lazarus’

Last season […] I was showing that the culture [of the United States in 1968] was like Don. It was carnal, it was anxious, it was having a huge self-confidence problem… And now [in Season Seven] I want to look at the material and immaterial world. Things that are of this world — ambition, success, money, and time to some degree — and the contrast of what we can’t see, the spiritual, the internal life… When your needs are met, when you have a roof over your head[…] and at a certain point those needs are met, what else is there?

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner on the show’s seventh (and final) season, which premieres this Sunday night; interview with amc.com dated April 7, 2014; emphasis added.

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DON DRAPER (1960)

You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1 (‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’)

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DON DRAPER (1960)

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1 (‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’)

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DON DRAPER (1967)

You’re happy because you’re successful… for now.  But what is happiness?  It’s a moment before you need more happiness.

–Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men, Season 5, Episode 12 (‘Commissions and Fees’)

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ROGER STERLING (1967)

What are the events in life? It’s like, you see a door. The first time you come to it, you say, ‘Oh, what’s on the other side of the door?’ Then you open a few doors and then you say, ‘I think I want to go over a bridge this time. I’m tired of doors.’ Finally you go through one of these things, and you come out the other side, and you realize that’s all there are: doors! And windows and bridges and gates. And they all open the same way. And they all close behind you. Look, life is supposed to be a path, and you go along, and these things happen to you, and they’re supposed to change your direction, but it turns out that’s not true.  Turns out the experiences are nothing. They’re just some pennies you pick up off the floor, stick in your pocket, and you’re just going in a straight line to you-know-where.

–Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 6, Episode 1 (‘The Doorway, Part 1’)

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DON DRAPER (1960)

I remember the first time I was a pallbearer. […] I remember thinking, ‘They’re letting me carry the box, they’re letting me be this close to it, they re not hiding anything from me now.’ And then I looked over and I saw all the old people waiting together by the grave and I remember thinking I… I just moved up a notch.

[…]

Jesus, Rachel, this is it. This is all there is, and I feel like it’s slipping through my fingers like a handful of sand. This is it. This is all there is.

–Bridget Bedard and Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton and Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 10 (‘Long Weekend’)

***

What, after all, is the use of not having cancer, cirrhosis, and such, if a man comes home from work every day at five-thirty to the exurbs of Montclair or Memphis and there is the grass growing and the little family looking not quite at him but just past the side of his head, and there’s Cronkite on the tube and the smell of pot roast in the living room, and inside the house and outside in the pretty exurb has settled the noxious particles and the sadness of the old dying Western World, and him thinking: Jesus, is this it? Listening to Cronkite and the grass growing?

–Walker Percy, ‘Bourbon’, Esquire 84 (December 1975): pp. 148-149; collected in Signposts in a Strange Land

I will show you fear on a package of butter.

Matthew Lickona, Swimming with Scapulars:

‘I cannot bear to think of the vastness of space. If humanity is a singular creation, so beloved by God that He redeemed it by the death of His Son, what is all that vastness doing there? I am shaken by images from the Hubble telescope; there are times when simply gazing into the night sky frightens me.’ (‘The World, …’, p. 203)

‘I feared eternity, even in heaven. “I think there should be a time when my spirit dies out,” I once told my father as he tucked me into bed. “Mom says that when my spirit leaves my body, it will still feel like me, but I don’t think it will.”‘ (‘The Janitor Prophet’, p. 6)

Cf. Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men, Season 4, Episode 12 (‘Blowing Smoke’):

SALLY DRAPER

This [dream] felt like I was going to heaven. Except that I don’t believe in it.

GLEN BISHOP

You don’t? Then what happens when you die? Nothing?

SALLY DRAPER

It doesn’t really bother me except that it’s forever. When I think about forever, I get upset. Like the Land O’ Lakes butter has that Indian girl sitting, holding a box, and it has a picture of her on it holding a box, with a picture of her on it holding a box. Have you ever noticed that?

GLEN BISHOP

I wish you wouldn’t have said that.