How about that! Our Walker Percy Weekend organizing committee had a meeting this morning. One of us brought the proposed design for the poster, which was made possible through the generosity of Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, who let us use his portrait of Percy. I took this shot with my iPhone, which is why it isn’t entirely clear. This may not be the final design; we await Mr. Rodrigue’s approval. But I think it’s beautiful.
I need to be in touch soon with you who have expressed interest in speaking at the festival, which will be held on June 6-8, 2014. The topics of the panel discussions are:
Cinematic Catechism: Moviegoing and the Meaning Of Life
In “The Moviegoer,” Binx Bolling manages his gnawing spiritual hunger by greedily consuming movies, which tell him how to behave, and what’s real. How do film, television, and media culture shape — and distort — our understanding of who we are, and what we are to do with our lives?
Lost In The Cosmos: Is Science Enough Without Religion?
Walker Percy was troubled by “scientism,” the belief that science is the only authoritative way of knowing. Science divorced from Judeo-Christian morality leads to the gas chamber, he thought. Was he an alarmist — or a prophet?
The Message In The Mosaic: The Jewish People As A Sign
Though a devout Roman Catholic, Walker Percy saw the Jewish people and their persistence through history as one of “the only two signs of significance” in the modern world. What did he mean by that — and what does this have to do with what he called “that Jewish sect, Catholicism”?
Place and Non-Place: Walker Percy And The Search For Home
Why do we crave rootedness, yet find it so difficult to achieve? Many of Percy’s characters define themselves by their places and cultures, yet struggle to live within them. What does Percy have to teach us about humanity’s inherent restlessness, and whether it’s possible ever to feel at home in the world?
We are in the process now of raising money for the event. The festival is a not-for-profit event; it’s actually a fundraiser for the Julius Freyhan Foundation, an arts and culture institution here in West Feliciana Parish. All donations to the Foundation for the festival are tax-deductible. We’re working on launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds from Percy fans nationwide.
You might recall that we’re working on a Friday night screening of Win Riley’s wonderful Percy documentary, which we hope to show during the crawfish boil and craft beer event in the park. On Saturday night, Chef Cody Carroll from Hot Tails Louisiana Crawfish House is going to host a cochon de lait (Cajun pig roast), and also shuck and serve chargrilled Louisiana oysters. There will be a band, and dancing. Saturday morning will be the panel discussion, as well as tours all day of West Feliciana places important in Percy’s work, as well as Old South plantations, if you like. In the late afternoon we’ll have a progressive Bourbon tasting on Royal Street front porches. We’re also working on a project that would allow festivalgoers who knew Percy or who were moved by his writing and witness in some way to record their memories for posterity.
So, lots of fun stuff planned for the celebration of a great American writer and son of the South. If you are a writer or scholar who would be interested in participating in a panel discussion on one of the aforementioned topics, please drop me a line at rod (at) amconmag.com . At this point in the fundraising game, we don’t know if we will be able to offer an honorarium to anyone; all we can promise now is accommodations to panelists. Depending on how well fundraising goes — I’ll tell you when we have the Kickstarter campaign up and running — we hope to be able to offer travel expenses as well as honoraria.
Let me hear from you too if you have fundraising ideas. Again, this is a not-for-profit festival, but it still costs money to stage.