August 21, 2009
The Thanatos Syndrome: A Book Prediction On Obama Denial of Care
A must-read book suggestion for our deadly times: The Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy. It has been a long-time favorite of ours.
It will soon be everyone’s favorite.
From a few years ago…
Winston Churchill said that if a book is not worth reading twice, it’s not worth reading once. Charmaine has a book suggestion that deserves double coverage.
I love nothing better as a Christmas present than a good book. (Unless, of course, the present sparkles.) After all the paper has been ripped apart, discarded, and finally cleaned up. . . to sit down with a cup of tea, ignore the kids (who are
fighting, hopefully, playing happily with new toys) and lose yourself in another world. . .That’s Christmas cheer for me.
If that’s you, or someone you love, then National Review has the list for you! Kathryn put up today NRO’s annual Christmas book-buying guide.
There are some terrific suggestions from Ralph McInerny, Michael Novak, Victor Davis Hanson, Mary Ann Glendon, and, well, me.
My own suggestion is The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy. First, it’s just a great story. But with Percy, there’s always two more layers. He’s such an unusual craftsman with words, that it’s a joy to read him, technically — to sit back and just watch the words march across the page. It’s almost like watching Percy play.
More importantly, however, I called this novel “subversive” because it’s not until the end of the book that the full import of the story becomes clear. He subtly pulls the reader along for a ride, then weaves a pro-life message into the book’s wackiness.
I was bemused at the end — I remember turning to Jack and saying, “Wow, how did he do that?” The book won a National Book Award!
Did I mention the underlying pro-life message??
What a hoot.
I think this Christmas, I’ll reread it.
* * *
Now it’s your turn. What else should I be reading this Christmas??
Cross-posted at Zeitgeist.
From Ralph C. Wood,
…Percy likens late 20th-century American life to the Weimar Republic. He finds harrowing parallels between our own behaviorists and the German scientists who practiced eugenics while quoting Rilke and Goethe and Schiller.
Our culture shares with theirs, Percy suggests. a mere utilitarian regard for human life.
The logical conclusion of that view is that those who are “useless” to themselves or the world — unwanted infants, nursing home residents and victims of severe mongolism, epilepsy, encephalitis, arteriosclerosis, progressive neurological disease and hopeless schizophrenia — ought to be “compassionately” eliminated.
In the absence of a “life with dignity,” reasons one of Percy’s humanist technicians, those who make no ‘contribution” to society should all be accorded their right to a “death with dignity.”
The sickness-unto-death that first manifested itself at Verdun and the Somme did not end with Dachau and Hiroshima; it has penetrated to the very core of American culture.
Percy gives our spiritual disease terrifying expression by having a team of well-meaning humanists enact their own deceptively decent form of demonry.