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THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy


by Walker Percy

Pub Date: June 15th, 1961
ISBN: 0375701966
Publisher: Knopf

An existentialist novel is keyed at the start by a few lines from Kierkegaard ("..the specific character of despair is precisely this; it is unaware of being despair".) and if it begins at the same point of Kierkegaard's aesthetic mystique (man's pursuit of pleasure), it closes without reaching any finite revelation. Jack "Binx" Boiling lives in New Orleans, and his attempt to escape from a world where "everydayness is the enemy" is achieved through movies, or a casual dalliance with his succession of secretaries. Certainly he is not desperate, but he is very aware of his malaise- of the danger of "becoming no one nowhere", and of the inanition of the life he leads. This he shares only with his cousin Kate, who is sick (and has been suicidal). In Intermittent scenes -- from the settled middle class solidity of his aunt's home, to the beach, to the bayou, back country, rundown house where his mother is casually bringing up a brood by a second husband, we follow Binx on his "search"-which ultimately brings him to a certain point of resolution-caring for Kate.... It is an unaccented but tantalizing projection of the suspension of self in a limbo without responsibility- without reality, and there will be those who will find that this kind of "dark pilgrimage", the indifferent prowling, frittering, shadow walking- "like Banque's ghost" is curiously fascinating while elusive.