A man must go down fighting

In Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (1961), Binx Bolling’s aunt thinks he wastes his potential as a stockbroker, not using his brain and making a contribution. Exasperated by the younger generation, she offers him unsolicited advice – advice his ears are not yet ready to hear:

“I no longer pretend to understand the world.” She is shaking her head yet still smiling her sweet menacing smile. “The world I knew has come crashing down around my ears. The things we hold dear are reviled and spat upon.” She nods toward Prytania Street. “It’s an interesting age you will live in – though I can’t say I’m sorry to miss it. But it should be quite a sight, the going under of the evening land. That’s us all right. And I can tell you, my young friend, it is evening. It is very late.”

For her too the fabric is dissolving, but for her even the dissolving makes sense. She understands the chaos to come. It seems so plain when I see it through her eyes. My duty in life is simple. I go to medical school. I live a long useful life serving my fellowman. What’s wrong with this? All I have to do is remember it.

“–you have too good a mind to throw away. I don’t quite know what we’re doing on this insignificant cinder spinning away in a dark corner of the universe. That is a secret which the high gods have not confided in me. Yet one thing I believe and I believe it with every fibre of my being. A man must live by his lights and do what little he can and do it as best he can. In this world goodness is destined to be defeated. But a man must go down fighting. That is the victory. To do anything less is to be less than a man.”

She is right. I will say yes. I will say yes even though I do not really know what she is talking about.

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