In Walker Percys story The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling, a Stockbroker on theverge of turning thirty is on a quest.
Set in 1960 New Orleans during Mardi GrasBinx, an upper class southern gentleman sets out to find out about himself. Answer questions that have tugged at his soul. Questions about despair,everydayness, religion and romance. Binx is stuck in a quagmire. He must breakout from this cloak of ennui and find the essence of being.
But how? How canpeople, a person with a soul and a world at their fingertips be so inept atfinding what makes them alive. Can it be found in religion or on the arm of asouthern beauty? Maybe it can be found in the surrealism of a movie, or theexcitement of making money. What if an answer is found? Will it frighten aperson back to their everydayness? Some of these question are sound, others maybe just thoughts in the authors mind, but they are questions that Binx must findout about. The following will talk about the idea of despair & everydaynessand if others think about searching the way Binx Bolling does. Binx is deathlyafraid of being pulled into everydayness. That is to say that he does not wantto fall into the trap of a daily, weekly of life long rut.
He does not want tosettle for just living just an existence. He wants to be noticed, to have theability of excitement on a daily routine. To work hard and start a family andfight for what he thinks is a grand life. Only to realize years later that sucha routine was established you never left from where you started.
To Binx that isdeath. Not physically dead, but soulfully dead. But what is so wrong witheverydayness. One could argue that everydayness could be a positive influence. Millions of people for hundreds of years have lived a life of everydayness.
Hassociety stopped? Have people withered into tiny robots fueled by repetition?People need repetition to keep them going. Everydayness gets us up in themorning. It puts us in the game of life. It causes others to rely on oneanother.
If you are to change a habit, chaos can follow. The man who changes hisroutine of being husband and father can cause such damage to his family andothers that its almost unthinkable. Maybe these people are the ones on tosomething. And the people rooting about trying to avoid everydayness are theones that are lost. They are the ones stuck in everydayness, stuck in despair.
Binx tries with all his might to avoid the pit falls of everydayness anddespair. He finds comfort on the arm of various women and in the movies that hefrequents. Maybe he is on to something here. If you change the company you arewith on a regular basis, you can avoid the everydayness that has taken the lifeof others around him. Different smiles that are all the same, backsides thatmelt together: Marcia, Linda and now Sharon. Talk about repetition.
Thats aliving hell and then to justify it all through a movie. To believe that acelluloid hero can mimic real life is just unreal. Happiness can be written intothe script. Everydayness is an overlooked flash in the background. The directoryells cut if things go amiss. Ideals can be manipulated to fit the screen.
Binxputs more effort into avoiding everydayness than it takes to live with it He isavoiding something that so many of us long to have. Is Binx that far into hisown despair that he is missing the whole idea of finding everydayness? Manypeople search for that perfect person just to spend a lifetime of everydaynesswith. Binx lives through the movies he sees. He finds a realness there, arealness that is lacking in real life.
He talks about certification. With thathe feels that the places where we live and visit are not real unless thoselocations are depicted in the movies. Its not just movies where he finds thiscertification. For example when both he and Kate travel to Chicago. Binx talksabout the genie-soul he goes on: Not a single thing do I remember from thefirst trip (referring to a trip his dad took him, and his brother when they wereyoung boys) but this: the sense of the place, the savor of the genie-soul ofthis place which every place has or else is not a place (202) The genie-soul isnothing more than an apparition, but if there is to be realness about a place,any place there has to be more to it than those that inhabit it.
Because,dont forget, Binx cant be stuck in the everydayness of ordinary life. Sowhile in Chicago, Binx and Kate visit an old army buddy–Harold Graebner. Now toBinx Harold is the only soul know to him in the entire Midwest. This is becausehe saved Binxs life during the war (206). But the town where he lives doesnot have a genie-soul; it cant be certified. Its not a place at all, toBinx or Kate.
Its this type of certification that leads us to the end of thebook. The final scene where he (Binx) sends Kate downtown to get some governmentpapers. She is nervous about going, but Binx puts her mind at ease. He picks acape jasmine and hands it to her: Kate: While I am on the streetcarare yougoing to be thinking about me? Im going to sit next to the window on theLake side and put the cape jasmine in my lap? Binx: yes. Kate: And you willbe thinking of me just that way? Binx: Thats right.
Its at this point thatBinx and Kate have found what they were looking for. Certification. Certification that a moment in both their lives, marked by the simple gesture ofa flower and a common thought makes everything real now; not just the image ofthings being real. They have each other, not despair and everydayness.Book Reports