By fostering intensive collaboration between philosophers, religious thinkers, and psychologists, we will investigate whether self-transcendence helps to make ordinary cultivation and exercise of virtue a source of deep happiness and meaning in human life.
Sacred and Profane Love Episode 15: Goethe's Faust - SoundCloud (3622 secs long, 398 plays)Play in SoundCloud
In episode 15 of Sacred and Profane Love, titled, “Faustian Ambitions,” I speak with my colleague and neighbor, Professor Anne Pollok, about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s famous tragedy, Faust. For the purposes of our conversation, we use the Norton Critical Edition, translated by Walter Arndt and edited by Cyrus Hamlin, which is available here. Goethe’s drama deals with the infinite striving that lies at the heart of the human condition, and how our quest for the transcendent can go terribly awry.
Anne Pollokis Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. She did her Dr. Phil at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, and was a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Stanford University prior to her appointment at UofSC. Her main areas of research are in early modern, aesthetics, and 20th century philosophy of culture.
Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action, ethics, and law, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology.
Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is A Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and co-Principal Investigator at Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life.
This podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America.
Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.
In episode 14 of Sacred and Profane Love, “Walker Percy on Being Lost in the Cosmos,” I speak with associate professor of Literature, Jessica Hooten Wilson, about Walker Percy’s dystopian, science fiction novel, Love in the Ruins. We discuss the darkly comic adventures of Dr. Tom More as he tries to figure out how to live and love in the ruins of a society that seems eerily familiar to our own. We also discuss Percy’s satirical take on the self-help genre, Lost in the Cosmos. So bring out the Early Times this weekend, settle down on the porch, and enjoy a conversation about one of our greatest Southern writers.
Jessica Hooten Wilson is associate professor of literature at John Brown University. She is the author of three books: Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and the Brothers Karamazov, Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence, and A Guide to Walker Percy’s Novels. Currently, she is preparing Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished novel,Why Do the Heathen Rage? for publication.
Sacred and Profane Episode 14: Walker Percy on Being Lost in the Cosmos - SoundCloud (3310 secs long, 335 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
Last week I was honored to give two lectures on Anscombe at the University of Pennsylvania–one for the Collegium Institute, which is embedded below, and one for he philosophy department, which hosted its first Anscombe archive conference. You can read about the Collegium here, and how they acquired Anscome’s archive here. If you are in the Philadephia area, you should definitely make a point of attending some of their public events.
I spent about three hours in the Anscombe archive last Thursday. For me, it was an incredible experience that I am still processing, not only because of how exciting some of the unpublished material is (an entire manuscript on truth!), but also because it was a unique window into Anscombe’s private life. I read a long philosophical exchange (on postcards!) between Anscombe and Kenny as he was losing his faith and she was trying to bring him back. I read a letter from Philippa Foot to Anscombe explaining why she was an atheist. I read some of her “hate mail” after her opposition to Truman became international news (yes, it had some undeniable misogynist overtones). I read her marginalia on drafts of NNL papers (yes, it is funny and sometimes unkind). Finally, I read a letter from a Japanese victim of US war crimes that brought me to tears (he was writing from his hospital bed, describing what happened to him and his loved ones). As someone who has long admired Elizabeth Anscombe, sorting through all of this was an incredible experience, and I’m currently drafting a proposal to make several return trips.
For some thoughts about Anscombe’s relevance to all of us today, see the lecture below.
Living the Truth - On the Relevance of Elizabeth Anscombe's Thought Today - YouTube
In March I gave a lecture on the concept of moral truth at Brown University. If you are interested in practical truth, practical reason, self-knowledge, or conscience, you may be interested in this. You can download and listen here.
NB: It’s more of an informal teaching session than a formal lecture.
I received the news via text from my brother just before my class: Notre Dame engulfed in flames! I gasped as the meaning of the words struck my consciousness like an unexpected slap in the face. My students gave me looks of concern, awaiting some kind of explanation. I immediately took to Twitter and saw the images of the great Cathedral consumed in a terrifying conflagration, its instantly recognizable spire collapsing to expressions of collective horror and disbelief. I swore, and then apologized for swearing, and then groaned and tried to hide my face, unable to believe my eyes, which were quickly filling with tears. I said a quick prayer in my head: merciful God, please do not allow it to be destroyed.
Aware of my surroundings and the absolute silence in the room, I instinctively blinked back my tears, cleared my throat, shut down my screen and swallowed my dread. I announced what I had seen, mumbled something about the lost art and history, the beauty and grandeur, our cultural heritage, and all the other properly secular pieties my mind could reach for in the moment. But I have to be honest: I was not grief stricken because of the loss of an old and beautiful building that housed important European art, though such losses are indeed very sad; I felt cut to the core because I had just watched one of the most significant sacred places of Catholic Christianity collapse before my eyes and I knew that as I spoke it was continuing to burn. But this grief I knew I was not supposed to show. My job as “ethicist” is supposed to be resolutely secular, and I know all too well that it never behooves the “moral expert” to reveal her faith; besides, the topic of the hour was voluntary euthanasia in Europe, and therefore hardly the most opportune moment to out myself as a partisan for the sanctity of life. I took a deep breath and began my lecture about the elevation of individual autonomy as the highest and most treasured good, and our political efforts to extend our techno-bureaucratic control to the very moment of death itself. I would allow myself to weep after class, in private, the way one is conditioned to experience religious emotions.
The first time I prayed inside of Notre Dame I was twenty years old; I had been a baptized Catholic for one year, and this my first visit to a Gothic cathedral. As a student of Medieval history and philosophy, I was in different respects both prepared and unprepared for the encounter. I was new to the faith and new to Europe; while wide eyed and truly awe struck by the sheer immensity of the space, I was thrown off by the irreverence of the tourist throngs inside, and I didn’t yet have the stable dispositions of Catholic religious worship that could help me navigate the Church as tourist attraction without feeling like I was, first and foremost, a spectacle myself. The second time I visited, one year later, was with my brother, who, like me the previous year, was also within the first year of his conversion and baptism. My brother and I were in Paris at the end of a long trip through Italy, and we were by now well acquainted with the experience of our newfound faith as object of intense foreign curiosity, of being the site for other’s imaginative projections. We attended a mass together confidently, cordoned off from the teeming crowds by ropes, no longer bothered by the irreverence of the gawking tourists as we had come to see the sense in which it was their space too, that the treasures of the Church were rightly open to the contemplation of all.
The last time I visited Paris was in the summer of 2016. I had spent much of that trip in another Notre Dame, one almost entirely ignored by tourists but favored by Catholic pilgrims: la Chappelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse, where the sister of charity Catherine Labouré was granted apparitions that led to the creation of the now famous image of the Blessed Virgin standing a top a half-globe, her feet crushing a serpent, with rays of light streaming from her delicate hands, which are reaching outward in a gesture of loving embrace. This was the front side of what is now known as the miraculous medal, worn or kept by tens of millions of faithful Catholics across the globe; its back side bears an image of the letter M surmounted with a cross, under which are two human hearts, one crowned with thorns, the other pierced through with a sword. The image of the mystical union of the hearts of mother and son, pierced by a suffering and sacrificial love that goes beyond all human power and measure, is a fixture of the modern Catholic imagination, instantly recognized. I recently noticed it is sold as jewelry by a fashionable boutique here in town. But I went to the rue de Bac not as a consumer but as a pilgrim in search of a sacramental, to contemplate it and its sacred meaning at its source; I went in search of the Catholic heart of Paris to come to the mother of God to ask for my own deeply troubled heart to be transfigured and conformed more deeply to her own. That summer was a deeply troubled time for me; I was fully aware of both my need for grace and my seeming lack of true desire for it. Grace is not cheap, and I knew as well as the young Augustine that I didn’t really want to pay the price for it. So I went in search of the help promised to all pilgrims. For the Catholic, the miraculous medal isn’t about adornment, and to see or wear it in such a light is to miss its true meaning and value entirely.
I did not make it to the most visited place in Paris until my final day of my trip, when I met a Jesuit friend for morning mass before I had to take the metro to de Gaulle for my flight home. In fact, I almost didn’t make it: ignorant American with forbidden suitcase in tow, the guards initially refused to let me enter the great Cathedral. But my friend insisted that I needed to attend mass, and the guard was clearly uncomfortable refusing a priest entrance. Never looking at or addressing me directly, he said, in perfect English, “Father, I make an exception for you, as she is your companion.” With great relief and a few giggles, we entered together.
It is difficult to describe the feeling one has stepping inside the Notre Dame, but the immense verticality of the entire structure, illuminated from outside through light refracted in the colors of the stained glass, isn’t accidental in its immediate effects. We are meant to experience our own smallness; we are meant to be drawn upwards towards the light pouring in from all sides, and to see it as symbolic of the illumination of our minds through revelation and grace. As we raise our gaze we feel deep in our hearts the yearning for that which is higher and greater than ourselves; if we do not feel this, we have missed something of its purpose or meaning. Even the most secular people I know have experienced a kind of wonder and awe at the beauty and grandeur of Our Lady’s Cathedral, perhaps in spite of themselves given its undeniable purpose and significance. I certainly do not wish to deny that one can marvel at it as an architectural achievement, at its historical significance for France and for Europe—these are genuine aspects of its universal appeal. But most fundamentally it is a place that presents its sacred character on its face: it speaks to our aspiration for something that utterly transcends any immanent frame we can conceive; the whole thing is designed to make explicit our deep longing for union with God as absolute truth, beauty, and goodness. No account of the cathedral as a mere monument to “civilization” can get around this fact, which is baked into its very structure and its essence. If you are moved by Notre Dame, you are in some sense attracted to the ideal it physically manifests.
It is no surprise that Notre Dame is synonymous with Paris, as Gothic architecture was born of the French Church and its Kings in the heart of the Île-de-France. One dismayed Parisian, as she watched the conflagration, remarked that,“Paris without the cathedral is not Paris anymore.” Seeming to agree with this sentiment, Emmanuel Macron vowed that France would rebuild the Notre Dame because “it is, in the deepest sense, our destiny.” This should strike us a curious choice of words. If the great Gothic cathedral is the pre-eminent symbol of and destiny of France, why is this so? A destiny, after all, refers to an end or fate that has been foreordained, whose pull is somehow overpowering of one’s own deliberative will. These are strong words for a country renown throughout the world for its resolute commitment to secularism.
When the great earthquake of Lisbon struck in 1755 on the morning of the Feast of All Saints, thousands of people were worshipping inside its imposing churches, which subsequently collapsed upon them causing their deaths. The near total destruction of Lisbon shook Europe at a time of internal upheaval and posed existential questions about evil, providence, and other core commitments of Christianity, commitments that were already unsettled by the political upheavals brought about by the Protestant Reformation. As we sort through the rubble of Notre Dame and assess the extent of the damage to it, we cannot ignore the fact that its near collapse poses its own set of existential question for Europe–of what Europe is and what it stands for. Can we feel so protective of Europe’s great Catholic patrimony all the while turning our backs on what these “monuments” fundamentally represent?
The reality is that Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals are no mere beautiful buildings, monuments, or repositories for art. If these cathedrals remain indelibly imprinted on the European imagination and landscape, such that we wish to spend hundreds of millions to preserve and protect them as a matter of “destiny”, we must ask ourselves why this is the case. For let us not forget that the same elites that tell us the Gothic Cathedrals are great monuments to “civilization”, also warn us that the beliefs and principles upon which they were constructed represent all that the progression of civilization firmly opposes: patriarchy, superstition, ignorance, empire, intolerance, and bigotry. This raises the question: why spend so many hundreds of millions to rebuild a symbol of all that we now so vehemently reject? Why value the Notre Dame as a building and find it so lamentable that those praying inside of it still believe so stubbornly in that for which it stands? As we continue to use Medieval and Catholic as pejorative terms, why do we spend so much time preserving the remaining public relics of it? It is a strange posture, worth exploring.
As the Cathedral burned, French Catholics gathered outside of its walls, kneeling and singing the Ave Maria, the Church’s great prayer to the Mother of God. What sort of soul is moved by such tenderly pious displays? Our Lady is remembered first and foremost for her obedience to God’s will; a Cathedral dedicated to her is always a symbol and reminder that the sovereign individual will is not the highest good, that the deepest desires and aspirations of the human heart are for something greater than oneself, that the best human lives are those lived in obedience to a truth that transcends anything we currently think we understand. If you were moved by their voices crying to heaven, is it just because you felt sorry for them?
As we reflect on these spontaneous displays of Catholic piety and how they made us feel, we cannot help but confront the fact that privileging the autonomous will above all else has not in fact led the West to a culture of deep happiness or true liberation, but rather, to a culture of elite bureaucratic managers clinging to their own privileges and power, a culture of shallow consumerism driven by an obsession with youth and physical beauty, a culture that finds little to no meaning or value in sacrifice or suffering, a culture that believes, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that the Promethean impulse for technical control over nature is an unqualified and unquestionable good. In short, a culture in which talk of Medieval Gothic cathedrals as destiny seems to make no sense, but still, for some reason, sounds high minded enough to be worthy of our assent.
The West is at a cross-roads, as its internal contradictions become ever more difficult to ignore or explain away. If the West continues to proclaim the self-expression of the autonomous individual will as the highest sovereign good, then it will continue to be a society that cannot allow any shared meaning of the profound sufferings and longings of the human heart, a society that recoils from the call to sacrifice oneself for others, a society that is obsessed with youth, bodily appearance, consumption, and luxury, a society obsessed with sexual pleasure but that no longer even sees the value of reproducing itself in the next generation; in short, it will continue to be a society that has lost all sense of a transcendent calling. If we rebuild the great Medieval Cathedral, is it in the hope that we can call ourselves to something more than we presently are? This is a serious question, posed honestly.
‘What is Paris without her cathedral?’ is really the question of what we are without any transcendent horizons to our thought, imagination, and deliberation. Perhaps we feel such depths of sorrow as we watch the Notre Dame burn because we recognize, however dimly, that this beautiful old building in the heart of Paris does in fact reflect the deeper aspirations of humanity, and not merely a sentimental feeling for gargoyles and flying buttresses. Perhaps we do in fact find it beautiful in a way that is not untethered from its essential and obvious meaning, from that reality to which it points. Perhaps yesterday we came face to face with an existential question about ourselves we now need to confront: whether the entirely immanent frame of sovereign individualism truly speaks to the depths of the human heart, or whether we long for more.
First and foremost, I apologize for the dearth of posts lately. I had to take a medical leave this semester (yes, I was very sick; and yes, I am fine now) and as a result all non-essential activities (as well as some essential activities) were sacrificed. But I’m happy to be back online to share some news about the podcast.
First and foremost, I have a new institutional partner and affiliation! Although I am still releasing a few episodes over the coming months with support from the John Templeton Foundation, going forward next year it will be underwritten by The Institute for Human Ecology, which is a research institute housed at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The IHE is a multi-disciplinary institute that supports work focused on questions about the nature of human flourishing, so it fits well with my own work. The IHE has made me a faculty fellow and will continue to support the podcast for as long as it continues to have a loyal following.
Second, the blog has recently been featured on the American Philosophical Association’s blog. You can read the whole blog post here. One thing this post does is finally explain my choice of image for the podcast’s logo.
Here’s an excerpt from the blog post:
“The logo features a striking image of a battle between divine and earthly love by the Roman artist Giovanni Baglione. Baglione’s painting makes explicit reference to a famous depiction of Cupid by his contemporary Caravaggio, titled amor vincit omnia. In Caravaggio’s painting, Cupid towers triumphantly over the scattered symbols of human striving, clutching his arrows with an impish grin. The title of Caravaggio’s famous piece comes from Virgil’s Eclogues; the full quote it references is “omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamus amori,” which is often translated as, “love conquers all; let us all yield to love.” Although we now associate this phrase with the romantic platitude that only love can overcome all obstacles and divisions, Virgil’s words come from the mouth of the heart sick Gallus, who is conquered by love (Gallus, in anguish from eros unsatisfied, kills himself after uttering these famous last words).
Baglione is playing with these themes in his painting; he responds to Caravaggio’s playful Cupid with a piece that depicts the superior power and triumph of divine over earthly love. Baglione’s image is not hard to interpret, but it has a deeper meaning; Baglione is speakingtoCaravaggio directly in his painting—in fact, he is attacking and provoking him (note that the devil’s face bears a non-accidental resemblance to Caravaggio). Baglione and Caravaggio were bitter rivals in the competitive world of Roman art. Although Baglione knowingly imitates Caravaggio’s distinctive style, his admiration is tinged with a jealous envy of Caravaggio’s manifestly superior talent and fame. The painting is (no doubt unintentionally) simultaneously a representation of the triumph of sacred love and a testament to the potential for profane love to lead us into folly and ruin. For it is Baglione’s worldly ambition—his craving for recognition and power as an artist—that creates the bitter resentment and jealousy that constitutes the painting’s deeper meaning. Ironically, Baglione’s depiction of the ultimate triumph of sacred love announces to the world that its creator has been conquered by profane ambition; in attempting to accuse Caravaggio, Baglione unwittingly implicates himself.
I love Baglione’s painting because it captures the central thrust of my podcast in deliciously ironic fashion, which is to explore the relation between love, virtue, happiness, and life’s purpose or meaning. In each episode we explore how and what we love can conquer in two distinct senses: when well-ordered through the cultivation of virtue, love can help us to conquer ourselves so that we can lead deeply happy lives, but when disordered, love can conquer us, by making us jealous, wrathful, selfish, lustful, and overcome with despair. Moreover, the layers of meaning in the painting—intended and unintended—brings out the fact that we bring our own lives to art, whether as creators or consumers. As someone who thinks of art as a central aspect of human experience, I am interested in the fact that how we look at and interpret art determines how we are affected by it, and how this, in turn, is inevitably bound up in our own life experience; this interpretive and affective dynamic includes most especially our own experiences of passionate desire—its perils and its promise, its profane and sacred dimensions. It is the power of the artist’s representation of love to transform us in a deep and permanent way that interests me—how art potentially shapes our character by changing our imaginative landscape, thereby helping to shape how we ourselves think, feel, and desire.
I have talked about art and morality, but my podcast focuses on literature in particular. I wanted to turn to literature because I believe that it is a very specific mode of access to the truth, especially moral truth. Whereas philosophical theory operates at the level of the abstract and general, literature operates in the particular and the concrete. So, while the philosopher can demonstrate the essential structure of vice, the novelist can show us how vice works to destroy the life of a particular person in a particular way. The novelist operates, not at the level of judgment and belief, but at the level of imagination and perception, which brings us closer to the realm of personal choice and action. I also think that literature is one of the best sources for our knowledge of human nature, which I think is a kind of general self-knowledge. Fiction expands the moral imagination such that we see reflections of ourselves and our own lives in the characters we come to invest ourselves in; in this way it often serves to reveal to us some uncomfortable truths about ourselves. This recognition can serve to correct some of our deep-seated tendencies towards self-deception.”
I’ve got upcoming episodes on Goethe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s King Lear, so fans of the podcast–especially those who take the time to write to me about it–thanks for your patience and stay tuned for new episodes soon!
Today marks the centenary of one of the truly great minds of the twentieth century: Elizabeth Anscombe. This mother of seven, and wife of philosopher Peter Geach, authored some of the most influential papers in analytic philosophy; she made groundbreaking contributions to moral philosophy, action theory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and the history of philosophy.
On New Year’s Day, Pints with Aquinas, a podcast that seeks to explain the thought of Thomas Aquinas to non-specialists, featured an episode on happiness; it is a conversation between me and the podcast’s hilariously self-deprecating and generous host, Matt Fradd. The episode is titled “How to be happy” but its not about that (no one can tell you how to be happy–virtue is not a technique, and philosophy isn’t self-help). I’m posting a link to it here; I hope you enjoy our conversation!
Whenever I do a podcast, I always think about what I wish I had said as opposed to what I actually said. In this episode, for instance, Matt asked me why I don’t like Jordan Peterson’s writings. I wish to say a little bit more in response here than I offered Matt during our conversation. I didn’t want to derail our episode, but at the same time, I want to be on record about why male interest in Jordan Peterson bothers me.
First and foremost, I don’t follow Jordan Peterson and I have not read his book. I do not consider this a failure on my part. I am a finite being with limited resources, and I have to be prudent about what I decide to read, especially since I read very carefully and in a time consuming way. Jordan Peterson is famous not because he has brilliant ideas–from what I can gather, his book promotes many pedestrian, time worn platitudes about us, in addition to some fairly shallow readings of great books–but because he is an admitted, radicalized culture warrior. I am allergic to our toxic culture wars, as they drag down discourse rather than elevate it. Culture warriors have practical (typically political) ends and reality gets dragged around to meet these ends on both sides; I have no time for that. I don’t need to engage yet another voice opposed to finding common ground together. I want to search for common ground, and if I didn’t believe that was possible I would sooner give up on discourse rather than further destroy it.
But I went further and said I don’t like his work, and that is what needs to be explained. Jordan Peterson says some unserious (indeed, laughable) but also dangerous things about women, and frankly, whatever sensible, true things he says about our culture is outweighed by his toxic attitudes about women. For instance, that the feminine is deeply associated with chaos whereas order and reason is masculine, and to treat it any other way would be “transhuman” or denying reality. For instance:
“You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”
And please note that his “Twelve Rules for Life” is an antidote to chaos–an antidote to the feminine. I think I know enough already about what he is on about, and I’m not interested in what he’s selling. If you are interested–if this vision of women appeals to you and rings true to your experience–I’m concerned about you.
Having said this, I certainly don’t want to silence Jordan Peterson, even though I think this vision of the feminine is dangerously false. I will raise daughters to be proud of their feminine genius insofar as they have cultivated it. But when men ask me point blank, as Matt did, why I don’t like him, as if he’s obviously great, I hope the answer is now clear: I don’t have time for misogyny masquerading as eternal verities. Life is too short, and I’d rather be reading wise women like Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Donna Tartt, Edith Stein, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Marilynne Robinson, Eleonore Stump, or any of the incredibly amazing contemporary women philosophers and theologians I am so blessed to work with and learn from.
Back in October I gave a talk at the University of Virginia, hosted by the Thomistic Institute. My topic was how we can think about meaning in life and happiness within a unified conceptual framework. You can listen to an audio recording of the talk here.
I was in DC yesterday giving a talk on Walker Percy and the Federalist Radio Hour asked me to swing by their recording studio to do an episode with them. It was fun (Ben was an incredible host) and I’m delighted they invited me on the show. In the episode, we discuss Percy’s ideas about the self and self-knowledge, the south, being a southern catholic, despair, sin, sex, women, false transcendence, and how to be alive to your own inevitable catastrophe of self. If you are interested in Percy, you may want to bust out the Early Times, have a listen, and share with all of your friends. You can access the full episode here.