Walker Percy excellence

“Scientist A: All phenomena in the Cosmos can be explained by the scientific laws that govern matter in interaction. This principle applies to the simplest chemical reaction between atoms to the most complex, including the behavior of organisms, the origin of the species, and the ascent of man. Like any other organism, man evolved when mutant forms and functions such as the opposable thumb for tools and weapons, the cortex, and the larynx-pharynx conformation for language gave him an advantage over other primates in adapting to the environment.

Scientist B: Then how do you account for the fact that with the appearance of man three also appeared for the first time in the Cosmos, as far as we know, language, mind, self, and consciousness, and almost immediately thereafter a train of disasters and triumphs which seem to have very little to do with adapting to an environment–such as organized warfare against himself, composing Don Giovanni, Charlie Manson, John Keats, suicide, joy, madness, murder, heroism, modern medicine, child abuse, loving care for the genetically malformed–and in recent years the appearance of the demoniac spirit of the erotic and the violent expressing itself in every conceivable variety of florid sexual behavior which has nothing to do with reproduction or survival of the species, and that with the very rise of science there has occurred the spectacular rise in technological violence, so that more men have been killed in this century (20th) than in all others put together–and that finally there should have come to pass the present state of affairs which surpass all belief, not merely that this very matter you speak of, …seen as atoms colliding and joining, is in fact possessed of an energy of such an order that one quarter teaspoon will destroy Greater New York, but that this very secret and this very matter–and here the mind reels–should find itself in the hands of this selfsame demoniac autonomous self, itself a creature of science?

Scientist A opens his mouth to reply, but the elevator doors open at last and there enters a Hasidic rabbi. The two scientists exchange glances and fall silent” (Percy 197-198).


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