Three o’clock and suddenly awake amid the smell of dreams and of the years come back and peopled and blown away again like smoke. A young man am I, twenty-nine, but I am as full of dreams as an ancient. At night the years come back and perch around my bed like ghosts.
My mother made up a cot in my corner of the porch. It is a good place, with the swamp all around and the piles stirring with every lap of water.
But, good as it is, my old place is used up (places get used up by rotatory and repetitive use) and when I awake, I awake in the grip of everydayness. Everydayness is the enemy. No search is possible. Perhaps there was a time when everydayness was not too strong and one could break its grip by brute strength. Now nothing breaks it—but disaster. Only once in my life was the grip of everydayness broken: when I lay bleeding in a ditch.
In a sudden rage and, as if I had been seized by a fit, I roll over and fall in a heap on the floor and lie shivering on the boards, worse off than the miserablest muskrat in the swamp. Nevertheless I vow: I’m a son of a bitch if I’ll be defeated by the everydayness.
(The everydayness is everywhere now, having begun in the cities and seeking out the remotest nooks and corners of the countryside, even the swamps.)
— Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Fort Dobbs is good. The Moonlite Drive-In is itself very fine. It does not seem too successful and has the look of the lonesome pine country behind the Coast. Gnats swim in the projection light and the screen shimmers in the sweet heavy air. But in the movie we are in the desert. There under the black sky rides Clint Walker alone. He is a solitary sort and a wanderer. Lonnie is very happy. Thérèse and Mathilde, who rode the tops of the seats, move to a bench under the projector and eat snowballs. Lonnie likes to sit on the hood and lean back against the windshield and look around at me when a part comes he knows we both like. Sharon is happy too. She thinks I am a nice fellow to take Lonnie to the movies like this. She thinks I am being unselfish. By heaven she is just like the girls in the movies who won’t put out until you prove to them what a nice unselfish fellow you are, a lover of children and dogs. She holds my hand on her knee and gives it a squeeze from time to time.
Clint Walker rides over the badlands, up a butte, and stops. He dismounts, squats, sucks a piece of mesquite and studies the terrain. A few decrepit buildings huddle down there in the canyon. We know nothing of him, where he comes from or where he goes.
A good night: Lonnie happy (he looks around at me with the liveliest sense of the secret between us; the secret is that Sharon is not and never will be onto the little touches we see in the movie and, in the seeing, know that the other sees — as when Clint Walker tells the saddle tramp in the softest easiest old Virginian voice: “Mister, I don’t believe I’d do that if I was you” — Lonnie is beside himself, doesn’t know whether to watch Clint Walker or me), this ghost of a theater, a warm Southern night, the Western Desert and this fine big sweet piece, Sharon.
A good rotation. A rotation I define as the experiencing of the new beyond the
expectation of the experiencing of the new. For example, taking one’s first trip to Taxco would not be a rotation, or no more than a very ordinary rotation; but getting lost on the way and discovering a hidden valley would be.
— Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Dark question: What is the capacity of a life and do I owe it to mine to fill it? I ask this of the dark, that is—the dark being all around me.
What I am calling the moment was in fact conceived by Kierkegaard for the very first time in philosophy. This idea makes it possible to start the first completely new era of philosophy since antiquity.
A momentous silence reigns always in the woods, and their meaning seems just ripening into expression.
But a time would come when the book would be written, would be behind me, and I think that a little of its light would fall over my past. Then, through it, I might be able to recall my life without repugnance.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice; and that interests me so that I feel I can go ahead without praise.
The thing is that I very rarely think; consequently a host of little metamorphoses accumulate in me without my noticing it, and then, one fine day, a positive revolution takes place.