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ABOUT WALKER PERCY: A DOCUMENTARY FILM

In a rare television interview in 1980, Walker Percy said his concerns as writer were with “a theory of man, man as more than organism, more than consumer––man the wayfarer, man the pilgrim, man in transit, on a journey.” This one-hour program, entitled Walker Percy: A Documentary Film, looks at Percy’s own journey, and is framed as a narrative about his life and ideas.

 As a doctor turned writer and philosopher, Percy was concerned with the big issues: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" But he knew his audience was inured to a direct approach. Binx Bolling, in The Moviegoer, is almost allergic to such discussions-––“...if they spoke to me of God, I would jump into the bayou”––yet he is preoccupied with what he calls ‘the search.’ It is a preoccupation that haunts all of Percy’s work.

 Part of what makes Percy’s characters like Binx, Will Barrett, and Thomas More so indelible is their wry humor despite being ‘Lost in the Cosmos.’ In Percy’s fifth novel, The Second Coming, the protagonist, Will Barrett, descends into a cave, determined to confront God. He is thwarted by a toothache. For Walker, “humor was an instrument of introspection,” writer Robert Coles says in the film. “That’s what he beautifully combined: that lighthearted sensibility merged with a grave, seriously introspective side. This takes a genius.”

 Walker Percy: A Documentary Film tells the story with archival film, excerpts from Percy’s work, and interviews with family, friends and scholars.  Three years in the making, Walker Percy: A Documentary Film is currently in post-production. Support for this film comes from The Watson Brown Foundation, The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, The Reily Foundation, The Southern Humanities Media Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Brad Hipps.

 

 

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"The word for Percy is the clue: Language, symbolic behavior, is the clue to the mystery of the individual. The freedom of language made him wonder about human freedom. Humans aren’t completely determined, and why are they free? And for him this became a theological question. It’s the core question for him. He came to the view—and he had long periods of doubt––that the divine, god, was the enabling condition of human freedom. It’s the source of human freedom. The source of human individuality. And that this was a unique thing expressed in our symbolic activity. Written language, spoken language, yes, but also the language of art, music, dance—all symbolic forms that express meaning.

That express being.

That assert that we are.

We exist."

––Jay Tolson

Walker Percy: A Documentary Film. The Moviegoer. The Last Gentleman. Love In The Ruins. Lancelot.

The Second Coming. Thanatos Syndrome. Win Riley. Winston Riley. Bertram Wyatt-Brown. Robert Coles. Thomas Cowan. Paul Elie. Rhoda Faust. Richard Ford

Linda Whitney Hobson. Walter Isaacson.Bunt Percy. Phin Percy. Ben C. Toledano. Jay Tolson.

Walker Percy Flying a kite

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