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The Moviegoer The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
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The Moviegoer Quotes Showing 1-30 of 67
“Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Losing hope is not so bad. There's something worse: losing hope and hiding it from yourself.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Nobody but a Southerner knows the wrenching rinsing sadness of the cities of the North.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Where there is chance of gain, there is also chance of loss. Whenever one courts great happiness, one also risks malaise.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“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
“In this world goodness is destined to be defeated. But a man must go down fighting. That is the victory. To do anything less is to be less than a man.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Have you noticed that only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real? I remember at the time of the wreck-- people were so kind and helpful and solid. Everyone pretended that our lives until that moment had been every bit as real as the moment itself and that the future must be real too, when the truth was that our reality had been purchased only by Lyell's death. In another hour or so we had all faded out again and gone our dim ways.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“What do you seek--God? you ask with a smile.

I hesitate to answer, since all other Americans have settled the matter for themselves and to give such an answer would amount to setting myself a goal which everyone else has reached--and therefore raising a question in which no one has the slightest interest. Who wants to be dead last among one hundred and eighty million Americans? For, as everyone knows, the polls report that 98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics--which leaves not a single percentage point for a seeker. For myself, I enjoy answering polls as much as anyone and take pleasure in giving intelligent replies to all questions.

Truthfully, it is the fear of exposing my own ignorance which constrains me from mentioning the object of my search. For, to begin with, I cannot even answer this, the simplest and most basic of all questions: Am I, in my search, a hundred miles ahead of my fellow Americans or a hundred miles behind them? That is to say: Have 98% of Americans already found what I seek or are they so sunk in everydayness that not even the possibility of a search has occurred to them?

On my honor, I do not know the answer.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Ooooh," Kate groans, Kate herself now. "I'm so afraid."
"I know."
"What am I going to do?"
"You mean right now?"
"Yes."
"We'll go to my car. Then we'll drive down to the French Market and get some coffee. Then we'll go home."
"Is everything going to be all right?"
"Yes."
"Tell me. Say it."
"Everything is going to be all right.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“It is not a bad thing to settle for the Little Way, not the big search for the big happiness but the sad little happiness of drinks and kisses, a good little car and a warm deep thigh.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“I don't quite know what we're doing on this insignificant cinder spinning away in a dark corner of the universe. That is a secret which the high gods have not confided in me. Yet one thing I believe and I believe it with every fibre of my being. A man must live by his lights and do what little he can and do it as best as he can. In this world goodness is destined to be defeated. But a man must go down fighting. That is the victory. To do anything less is to be less than a man.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple, at least for a fellow like me; so simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a cast away do? Why he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick. 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
“Hatred strikes me as one of the few signs of life remaining in the world. This is another thing about the world which is upsidedown: all the friendly and likable people seem dead to me; only the haters seem alive.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Have you noticed that only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real?”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“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: the time one climbed the Parthenon at sunrise, the summer night one met a lonely girl in Central Park and achieved with her a sweet and natural relationship, as they say in books. I too once met a girl in Central Park, but it is not much to remember. What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in Stagecoach, and the time the kitten found Orson Welles in the doorway in The Third Man.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“i had spent four years propped on the front porch of the fraternity house, bemused and dreaming, watching the sun shine through the spanish moss, lost in the mystery of finding myself alive at such a time and place.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“During my last year in college I discovered that I was picking up the mannerisms of Akim Tamiroff, the only useful thing, in fact, that I learned in the entire four years.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“Nothing remains but desire, and desire comes howling down Elysian Fields like a mistral.”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
“...having only learned to recognize merde when I see it, having inherited no more from my father than a good nose for merde, for every species of shit that flies--my only talent--smelling merde from every quarter, living in fact in the very century of merde, the great shithouse of scientific humanism where needs are satisfied, everyone becomes an anyone, a warm and creative person, and prospers like a dung beetle...”
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

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