Existing in the Mutable New Orleans

It is that one finding oneself in one of life’s critical situations need not after all respond in one of the traditional ways.
— Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

I started to read Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer back in New Orleans, spending afternoons out on the balcony and pondering about my own “search” in the blazing sun. Being on this trip, I’ve been reminded of the foundation that raised me to be passionately invested in my relationships. Having been consumed by this “search”, I dismissed the importance of bonding with those I have come across. Now, it is as though I have to make up for the days I spent dwelling over the parts of myself lost in the void of the past. I recognize that the need to nurture the people to whom I grow attached will always be ingrained in me. My family is familiar with my vulnerable nature, and they have warned me, many times, to stop giving more than what is asked of me. The separation from that foundation has been injurious, as my overwhelming ability to provide what there is left of my passionate nature has turned out to be one of the biggest setbacks I could have possibly experienced.

Like Binx, to my surprise (a poorly timed surprise), I hadn’t acknowledged that I was in the middle of an existential crisis. In seminar, Andrew spoke about the depths of Binx’s relationship with Kate, stating that the nearness in whom one seeks comfort is possibly the only form of contentment one would desire when facing universal traumas. This resonated with me because I thought that I had been incapable of healthily expressing my purest affections in past relationships, being left alone to cope with my traumas; and in the meantime disapproving my own idea of intimacy to appease the persons from my past. I was simply misunderstood; I tried to suppress emotions I attempted to embrace for the first time.

Having read the novel a second time, Binx’s existential crisis provided a deeply reflective experience in which I simultaneously analyzed my own growth and regressive behavior as I walked the French Quarter. After the Korean War, Binx refused to settle for any mundane purpose, but seldom set any expectations of his own, which hindered his opportunities to become immersed in the unexcitable possibilities lain before him. He committed his entirety to the everyday experience, being observant of his environment and peers without latching onto some kind of purpose. I believed his “search” was meaningless, as I could not imagine how someone with such suppressed passions would be impressed with the mundaneness of everyday life. It dawned on me, after finishing the book, that I had suppressed my passions, missing out on many excitable possibilities when given the freedom to explore the mutable city. From this, I learned that there are many aspects of myself that exist as tension, colliding with one another, and with an equal demand to be embodied under trying times. On this trip, circumstances required that my present self be aligned with my emerging self. I was left to reconsider old wisdoms and embrace new knowledge, and entered a state of ennui that lasted for days. During that period, I had to preserve wisdoms that helped me endure traumas, but also let go of wisdoms that no longer served a purpose. In the same breadth, I had to become receptive of knowledge that was to guide me through a healing process, but retreat from knowledge if it did not produce an effectual process in growth.


Kate’s understanding of Binx’s ennui was an overlooked form of affection. Though she was capable of seeing through his purposeless behavior, her perception on life amplified the division that complicated their sense of unity. It was a painful realization. After being impressed by this realization I decided to stop dwelling on the failed relationships, believing that I had the strength to embrace the individuality necessary to restructure the ways in which I would like to ascend in my writing abilities. That has not been the case. Though Binx’s relationship with Kate disheartened me, understanding the need for a companion during dark times, I came to accept that I am both Binx and Kate in some degree; my present self relying on my emerging self to solidify my mental fortitude when hopelessness comes in waves. There were many nights when I walked around New Orleans to cleanse my mind of the horrors that I had not been able to accept. The city’s energy was extremely mutable, and was at times too overwhelming to process. I also spent those nights on the balcony of my room, contemplating over the progress in internal growth, and consequentially, my commitment to my writing career. I am not yet prepared to exercise abilities that have been presented to me under terrifying circumstances. But I have become aware of the sympathetic approach I must take to understand why the present and emerging selves have had such a paralyzing effect on me.

A collection of Gay and Lesbian poems purchased at Librairie Bookshop when taking a reflective walk; located in the French Quarter.

A collection of Gay and Lesbian poems purchased at Librairie Bookshop when taking a reflective walk; located in the French Quarter.

Here’s some advice to all my future selves:

Let unfamiliar experiences consume you, even when you are frustrated with the person you are becoming. There may be aspects of yourself, entrapped within, that could reveal excitable possibilities worthy of exploring. And you must remain vulnerable to those possibilities so that you may release any tension that you did not know you harbored. It does not mean that the release will alleviate the overwhelming impressions of the unfamiliar. Do not set out on your “search” without becoming of yourself when enduring the unfamiliar. When you have healed, exert the tenderness you feel within yourself, and towards your gentle and lively peers keeping in mind that your presence is still impressionable. You have taken on the purpose to guide, remaining, always, a student of experience. You do not know the answers and that is okay. If you do not discover what you seek, preserve your modes of survivability and passions that led you to that disappointment or shortcoming. Romanticize what sets your passions ablaze, because the impressions that have emerged are what will remind you of the comfort you seek in times of terror; they will settle your anxious heart when it is time to absorb your reality as it is. Retreat from what is left of your weakest self, but also, do embrace what will become of your forthcoming self.