Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors. Be the first to learn about new releases!
Start by following Walker Percy.

Walker Percy Walker Percy > Quotes


Walker Percy quotes (showing 1-30 of 222)

“You can get all A's and still flunk life.”
Walker Percy, The Second Coming
tags: life
“Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?”
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
“The difference between a non-suicide and an ex-suicide leaving the house for work, at eight o'clock on an ordinary morning:

The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breath is high in his chest.

The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn't have to.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
“The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages.

As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment.

Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive.

Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either.

School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics.

Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements.

The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla.

Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection.

But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation.

Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
“Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
Walker Percy
“They all think any minute I'm going to commit suicide. What a joke. The truth of course is the exact opposite: suicide is the only thing that keeps me alive. Whenever everything else fails, all I have to do is consider suicide and in two seconds I'm as cheerful as a nitwit. But if I could not kill myself -- ah then, I would. I can do without nembutal or murder mysteries but not without suicide. ”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“It's one thing to develop a nostalgia for home while you're boozing with Yankee writers in Martha's Vineyard or being chased by the bulls in Pamplona. It's something else to go home and visit with the folks in Reed's drugstore on the square and actually listen to them. The reason you can't go home again is not because the down-home folks are mad at you--they're not, don't flatter yourself, they couldn't care less--but because once you're in orbit and you return to Reed's drugstore on the square, you can stand no more than fifteen minutes of the conversation before you head for the woods, head for the liquor store, or head back to Martha's Vineyard, where at least you can put a tolerable and saving distance between you and home. Home may be where the heart is but it's no place to spend Wednesday afternoon.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
“I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“For some time now the impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead.
It happens when I speak to people. In the middle of a sentence it will come over me: yes, beyond a doubt this is death. There is little to do but groan and make an excuse and slip away as quickly as one can. At such times it seems that the conversation is spoken by automatons who have no choice in what they say. I hear myself or someone else saying things like: "In my opinion the Russian people are a great people, but--" or "Yes, what you say about the hypocrisy of the North is unquestionably true. However--" and I think to myself: this is death. Lately it is all I can do to carry on such everyday conversations, because my cheek has developed a tendency to twitch of its own accord.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Lucky is the man who does not secretly believe that every possibility is open to him.”
Walker Percy
“You live in a deranged age - more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
“What is the nature of the search? you ask. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted.”
Walker Percy, The Second Coming
“Losing hope is not so bad. There's something worse: losing hope and hiding it from yourself.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?”
Walker Percy
“Whenever I feel bad, I go to the library and read controversial periodicals. Though I do not know whether I am a liberal or a conservative, I am nevertheless enlivened by the hatred which one bears the other. In fact, this hatred strikes me as one of the few signs of life remaining in the world.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.”
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
“Small disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.”
Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome
“The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie. Other people, so I have read, treasure memorable moments in their lives...”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Lord, grant that my work increase knowledge and help other men. Failing that, Lord, grant that it will not lead to man’s destruction. Failing that, Lord, grant that my article in Brain be published before the destruction takes place.”
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
“If poets often commit suicide, it is not because their poems are bad but because they are good. Whoever heard of a bad poet committing suicide? The reader is only a little better off. The exhilaration of a good poem lasts twenty minutes, an hour at most.

Unlike the scientist, the artist has reentry problems that are frequent and catastrophic.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
“Ours is the only civilization in history which has enshrined mediocrity as its national ideal. Others have been corrupt, but leave it to us to invent the most undistinguished of corruptions. No orgies, no blood running in the street, no babies thrown off cliffs. No, we're sentimental people and we horrify easily. True, our moral fiber is rotten. Our national character stinks to high heaven. But we are kinder than ever. No prostitute ever responded with a quicker spasm of sentiment when our hearts are touched. Nor is there anything new about thievery, lewdness, lying, adultery. What is new is that in our time liars and thieves and whores and adulterers wish also to be congratulated by the great public, if their confession is sufficiently psychological or strikes a sufficiently heartfelt and authentic note of sincerity. Oh, we are sincere. I do not deny it. I don't know anybody nowadays who is not sincere.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Fiction doesn’t tell us something we don’t know, it tells us something we know but don’t know that we know.”
Walker Percy
“To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“I couldn't stand it. I still can't stand it. I can't stand the way things are. I cannot tolerate this age.”
Walker Percy
“Nobody but a Southerner knows the wrenching rinsing sadness of the cities of the North.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“What needs to be discharged is the intolerable tenderness of the past, the past gone and grieved over and never made sense of. Music ransoms us from the past, declares an amnesty, brackets and sets aside the old puzzles. Sing a new song. Start a new life, get a girl, look into her shadowy eyes, smile.”
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins
“Like many young men in the South, he had trouble ruling out the possible. They are not like an immigrant's son in Passaic who desires to become a dentist and that is that. Southerners have trouble ruling out the possible. What happens to a... man to whom all things seem possible and every course of action open? Nothing of course.”
Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
“He means that he hopes to find himself a girl, the rarest of rare pieces, and live the life of Rudolfo on the balcony, sitting around on the floor and experiencing soul-communications. I have my doubts. In the first place, he will defeat himself, jump ten miles ahead of himself, scare the wits out of some girl with his great choking silences, want her so desperately that by his own peculiar logic he can't have her; or having her, jump another ten miles beyond both of them and end by fleeing to the islands where, propped at the rail of his ship in some rancid port, he will ponder his own loneliness.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8

All Quotes | Add A Quote
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game

The Moviegoer The Moviegoer
19,326 ratings
Open Preview
Love in the Ruins Love in the Ruins
2,599 ratings
Open Preview
Lancelot Lancelot
2,181 ratings
Open Preview
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book Lost in the Cosmos
1,816 ratings
Open Preview