Percy: The Common Reader and the Complex Reader
Walker Percy's "The Loss of the Creature" is a work to be read
and read again. He questions language and understanding or belief. He writes "piling example upon example" (qtd. in Percy 462). He speaks of the rare sovereign knower and the unique sovereign experience. One will never fully recover an entity into the understanding of the primary founder's, as try he might. There will only be one sovereign experience.
There are many opportunities for one to view the Grand Canyon. The common tourist takes the packaged tour. He sees the canyon the way his travel agent intended. He takes pictures and "measures his satisfaction by the degree to which the canyon conforms to the preformed complex" (qtd. in Percy 463). This simply means he is pleased with his experience, feeling he has not been cheated by the packaged tour. Like the tourist visiting the Grand Canyon, the common reader merely reads the text, however, the spaces between the lines are left unexplored. The common reader might read "The Loss of the Creature," not comprehend Percy's concepts and dismiss the text comparable to the tourist visiting the canyon, ignoring all of the history, beauty and mystique that has formed this national treasure into the preformed concept that civilization knows it as today. One who reads as a common reader would find that Walker Percy's "The Loss of the Creature" is a collection of asinine statements laid upon one another generating chaos in their minds, and nothing more.
In contrast to the tourist, the sovereign knower opts not to take the packaged tour. He is the one hoping to see the Grand Canyon as Garcia López de Cárdenas saw the Grand Canyon the first time, therefore creating a sovereign experience. To do this he must "avoid the approved confrontation of the tour and Park Service" (qtd. in Percy 464). One way the tourist can create a sovereign experience, hence becoming a sovereign knower is by a...
Cited: Percy, Walker. "The Loss of the Creature." Ways of Reasoning: An Anthology for Writers. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. New York: Bedford, 1990. 461-79
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