Walker Percy quotes
1916 - 1990, American author
We love those who know the worst of us and don't turn their faces away.
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.
My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted.
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.
Why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone's finger as long as
one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a
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.
The enduring is something which must be accounted for. One cannot simply shrug it off.
Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?
Why is there such a gap between nonspeaking animals and speaking man, when there is no
other such gap in nature?
You live in a deranged age, more deranged that usual, because in spite of great scientific and
technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.
You can get all A's and still flunk life.
Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos - novas, quasars,
pulsars, black holes - you are beyond doubt the strangest?
Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.
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
Not a single thing do I remember from the first trip but this: The sense of the place, the savor
of the genie-soul of the place which every place has or else is not a place... There it is as big
as life, the genie-soul of the place which, wherever you go, you must meet and master first
thing or be met and mastered.
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
Christians talk about the horror of sin, but they have overlooked something. They keep talking
as if everyone were a great sinner, when the truth is that nowadays one is hardly up to it.
There is very little sin in the depths of the malaise. The highest moment of a malaisian's life can
be the moment when he manages to sin like a proper human.
As for hobbies, people with stimulating hobbies suffer from the most noxious of despairs since
they are tranquilized in their despair.