Walter Percy's "The Loss of Creation

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Walter Percy’s essay, “The Loss of Creature,” criticizes society’s expectations and outlook on life. “A certain value” (469) for experiencing life has slowly diminished, and yet people are unwilling to “recover” (470) this “loss” (474) according to Percy. He illustrates and condemns various efforts to capture, or “recover” personal sovereignty throughout the essay. From the American tourists in Mexico to the tourist in France, Percy questions these experiences and then proposes multiple methods we could possibly use to recover our loss. While his criticisms appear to act as solutions, Percy’s main objective is to startle us by daring us to think beyond our symbolic complex of what is expected. By “leaving the beaten track” (470), Percy recommends we create our own unique trail to follow. Progressing from one example to another, Percy appears to have developed a plan to assist us in recovering our loss of sovereignty. Beginning with the title, “The Loss of Creature,” Percy proposes that something is missing. While we do not know what is lost at first, we begin to realize the detrimental effect preconceived notions have on experiences. We have surrendered “a certain value,” (469) our ability to see something with an untarnished eye by bringing no prior knowledge to the experience. However, because not all sovereignty is gone, Percy can propose numerous resolutions through his various examples of “recoveries” (469). By continually utilizing the word “recovery” (469) Percy enables even the largest of conformists to be helped. In order to experience the same sight that Garcia Lopez de Cardenas saw when he discovered the Grand Canyon, Percy suggests recovery through “a breakdown of symbolic machinery” or a “national disaster” (471). If a “breakdown of symbolic machinery” actually occurred, the static world filled with guided tours and premeditated movements would suddenly be disrupted. In addition, the proposition of a natural disaster implies that the longer something...
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