Scribbles, &c.

Walker Percy

I have since finished Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome. They were great. Love in the Ruins is an interesting product of its time - an end-of-the-world novel written in 1971 that's set somewhere in the imagined 1980s. It holds up pretty well to be honest, with a sort of semi-dark hilarity that's definitely reminiscent of contemporary movies and TV shows - think M*A*S*H (the movie). The political predictions alone will make it worth revisiting. Maybe certain predictions didn't land as well as jokes because, lo, they've basically come to pass.

The Thanatos Syndrome is a sequel inasmuch as it features the same main character (and several others) but it stands on its own and you needn't have read the other book first to enjoy it. I remember reading it, probably in college, based on the title and general conspiracy-plot description. The Catholic elements completely escaped me at the time, so it was well-worth revisiting. Have re-tackled the adventures of Dr. Tom More, Louisiana psychiatrist and self-described terrible Catholic, I'm probably going to add The Moviegoer and Lost in the Cosmos to the bookshelf soon.

As it is, I'm done with my fiction break and diving back into spiritual reading: The Conferences of John Cassian. I bought a copy of it on Amazon only to find out afterward that it's a selection of nine conferences and not the complete set. The introductory material is terrific, though, so I'm reading it while waiting for a full edition to arrive. And it will arrive just in time - we're about to hit the road for a funeral in the Ozarks and some meaty reading will be an extremely welcome distraction.

I seem to keep gravitating to the mystics and monastics - Bernard of Clairvaux and before that, Catherine of Siena. The Rule of St. Benedict. The Daily Office. What has this quarantine been but a sort of monastic enclosure of circumstance, where we live in community, occasionally receive guests, pray, and go about our daily work? Where we meet God in the ordinary moments of the day, in those others before us, and reflected in created beauty? Where, if we are honest, we fail, and seek the grace to rise again, and hasten along the path? Where we listen?