Growing up, there was nothing more exciting than going to the movies. Whether it was with my parents on a Sunday afternoon or with my friends on a Friday night, there was something so captivating about devoting a piece of my life to watching another life unfold on the silver screen. It sounds so cheesy, but ever since I can remember, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a filmmaker. Having taught myself in the height of my elementary youth the ins and outs of editing while all of peers would undoubtedly prefer a game of tag, I fell in love with the beauty of creating a space for myself in which anything is possible– where I am neither limited by the restrictions of linear time and physical space. I can imagine that it is for similar that Binx feels so drawn to the appeal of cinema as well.
Binx, being the Moviegoer that Walker Percy refers to in the title of the novel, sees himself less a protagonist within his own life and more as an observer– an audience member in which he processes all that happens to and around him. An introverted and introspective man, Binx finds solace in the space of the theater where things happen as they should with a beginning, middle, and an end in which there is a happily ever after. With this being said, although there is joy in going to the movies and resonating with what one sees on screen, there is an inevitable danger that comes along with the inability to separate fiction from one’s reality. This is the nature of Binx’s condition as he is a man that expects the grandiose and the glamorous. The subtle glances that read as love at first sight on the streetcar fueled with desire, the way Binx projects his infatuation onto his secretary– a woman of which he hardly speaks to. Binx, being a cinephile himself, knows all of the cues that signal satisfaction, interest, and ultimately a love for the ages through the function of films that he idolizes and adores– this being his way of learning and understanding about the world in general, but more specifically as it relates to himself. However, this isn’t a critique.
While I may be analyzing his condition and the way he moves through the world, I’m not saying that Binx is either wrong or right– I’m only making observations in the way that he does throughout the entirety of Percy’s novel. In fact, to criticize Binx would be to criticize myself as I feel that the two of us can (at times) be quite similar. I too am a Moviegoer, a girl that lives through observations well informed by cues that my media library has taught me over the years– another way of saying that I, like Binx, am a hopeless romantic. There is a beauty in seeing the world through a filtered lens, looking for the romance in every aspect of one’s life. Particularly in New Orleans, it’s almost too easy to indulge one’s inner romantic. Between the vibrant European-infused loveliness in the French Quarter, and the quaint hospitality of the Southern wealth in the Garden District, it’s too easy to fall in love with the city and anything within it. However, it’s an exhausting way to live when expectations often don’t align with reality. While waiting for the rest of the Bookpacking crew to come out of the Presbytere, I idled aimlessly through Jackson Square when I was enticed by yet another psychic.
Little cinematic moments...
Every reading I’ve had (and I’ve had many) is always different, yet they are all fundamentally similar and are usually structured with the same foundation. However, this woman who I stumbled upon while killing time read me in a way that I have never been read before– through odd specificities and metaphors I would have never thought of prior. “I’ve never said this before in a reading, but I’m getting the sense that you should invest in a storage unit soon…” she said as she squinted and leaned in closer to the cards, as if they were telling her the quietest of secrets inaudible over the jazzy hubbub of the square. I’m sure I just looked puzzled as I didn’t know what to make of that at the time, but before I could ask anymore questions she moved on to tell me: “And make sure you stop romanticizing everything. Just be more present and in the moment– no expectations.”
As I already said, I’m a big time romantic so it’s only in my nature to move through my life that way. Telling a romantic to stop romanticizing is like telling Binx to stop going to the movies– impossible. I understand what she meant, but it’s always easier to look into someone else’s life and tell them how to fix their problems when you’re not experiencing them yourself. Just as I think separating his appreciation of cinema from his understanding of the reality of his world would do Binx some good, that’s not necessarily a easy or a feasible task and I think that’s worth noting while reading The Moviegoer. Although not my favorite read on the trip thus far, I have a great appreciation for what Walker Percy is saying through the vessel of his character, and if anything it has only made me more self-aware as to how I operate in my daily life.
Throughout this trip so far, I've noted that there is nowhere for my romantic to hide hence the reason why it's so hard to pretend to be anything else. Anywhere else, I can at least pretend to be a cynic, but in New Orleans everything is beautiful. Even on Bourbon Street when every corner reeks of a frat party gone stale, there's still a rhythm and rhyme to it all that one can't help but give into. I want to take photos of everything and keep them tucked away forever; I want to jar the street scents and never release them; I want to feel everything that this city brings me all at once all the time. It may be platonic– maybe even unrequited– but it's love regardless and here, it's everywhere. The psychic is probably right though... It's in my best interest to let go of the romance. It'll only make it that much harder to peel myself out of here.