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Walker Percy: Small disconnected facts have a way of becoming connected.

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Cultivate a low-grade curiosity

Two years in the clink have taught me a thing or two.

I don’t have to be in a demonic hurry as I used to be.

I don’t have to plumb the depths of “modern man” as I used think I had to. Nor worry about “the human condition” and suchlike. My scale is smaller.


In prison I learned a certain detachment and cultivated a mild, low-grade curiosity. At one time I thought the world was going mad and that it was up to me to diagnose the madness and treat it. I became grandiose, even Faustian.

Prison does wonder for megalomania. Instead of striking pacts with the Devil to save the world—yes, I was nuts—I spent two years driving a tractor pulling a gang mower over sunny fairways and at night chatting with my fellow con men and watching reruns of Barnaby Jones.

Living a small life gave me leave to notice small things—like certain off-color spots in the St. Augustine grass which I correctly diagnosed as an early sign of chinch-bug infestation. Instead of saving the world, I saved the eighteen holes at Fort Pelham and felt surprisingly good about it.

Small disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.


–Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome (NY: Picador, 1987) 67


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

March 11, 2015 at 8:41 am

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