In Walker Percy's story The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling, a
Stockbroker on the verge of turning thirty is on a quest. Set in 1960 New Orleans during Mardi Gras Binx, an upper class southern gentleman sets out to find out about himself. Answer questions that have tugged at his soul. Questions about despair, everydayness, religion and romance. Binx is stuck in a quagmire. He must break out from this cloak of ennui and find the essence of being. But how? How can people, a person with a soul and a world at their fingertips be so inept at finding what makes them alive. Can it be found in religion or on the arm of a southern beauty? Maybe it can be found in the surrealism of a movie, or the excitement of making money. What if an answer is found? Will it frighten a person back to their everydayness? Some of these question are sound, others may be just thoughts in the authors mind, but they are questions that Binx must find out about. The following will talk about the idea of despair & everydayness and if others think about searching the way Binx Bolling does.
Binx is deathly afraid of being pulled into everydayness. That is to say that he does not want to fall into the trap of a daily, weekly of life long rut. He does not want to settle for just living just an existence. He wants to be noticed, to have the ability of excitement on a daily routine. To work hard and start a family and fight for what he thinks is a grand life. Only to realize years later that such a routine was established you never left from where you started. To Binx that is death. Not physically dead, but soulfully dead. But what is so wrong with everydayness. One could argue that everydayness could be a positive influence. Millions of people for hundreds of years have lived a life of everydayness. Has society stopped? Have people withered into tiny robots fueled by repetition? People need repetition to keep them going. Everydayness gets us up in the morning. It puts us in the game of life. It causes others to rely on one another. If you are to change a habit, chaos can follow. The man who changes his routine of being husband and father can cause such damage to his family and others that it's almost unthinkable. Maybe these people are the ones on to something. And the people rooting about trying to avoid everydayness are the ones that are lost. They are the ones stuck in everydayness, stuck in despair.
Binx tries with all his might to avoid the pit falls of everydayness and despair. He finds comfort on the arm of various women and in the movies that he frequents. Maybe he is on to something here. If you change the company you are with on a regular basis, you can avoid the everydayness that has taken the life of others around him. Different smiles that are all the same, backsides that melt together: Marcia, Linda and now Sharon. Talk about repetition. That's a living hell and then to justify it all through a movie. To believe that a celluloid hero can mimic real life is just unreal. Happiness can be written into the script. Everydayness is an overlooked flash in the background. The director yells cut if things go amiss. Ideals can be manipulated to fit the screen. Binx puts more effort into avoiding everydayness than it takes to live with it He is avoiding something that so many of us long to have. Is Binx that far into his own despair that he is missing the whole idea of finding everydayness? Many people search for that perfect person just to spend a lifetime of everydayness with.
Binx lives through the movies he sees. He finds a realness there, a realness that is lacking in real life. He talks about certification. With that he feels that the places where we live and visit are not real unless those locations are depicted in the movies. It's not just movies where he finds this certification. For example when both he and Kate travel to Chicago. Binx talks about the genie-soul he goes on:
"Not a single thing do I remember from the first trip (referring to a trip his dad took him, and his brother when they were young boys) but this: the sense of the place, the savor of the genie-soul of this place which every place has or else is not a place (202)
The genie-soul is nothing more than an apparition, but if there is to be realness about a place, any place there has to be more to it than those that inhabit it. Because, don't forget, Binx can't be stuck in the everydayness of ordinary life. So while in Chicago, Binx and Kate visit an old army buddy--Harold Graebner. Now to Binx Harold is the only soul know to him in the entire Midwest. This is because he saved Binx's life during the war (206). But the town where he lives does not have a genie-soul; it can't be certified. It's not a place at all, to Binx or Kate. It's this type of certification that leads us to the end of the book. The final scene where he (Binx) sends Kate downtown to get some government papers. She is nervous about going, but Binx puts her mind at ease. He picks a cape jasmine and hands it to her:
Kate: While I am on the streetcar"”are you going to be thinking about me? "I'm going to sit next to the window on the Lake side and put the cape jasmine in my lap?"
Kate: And you will be thinking of me just that way?
Binx: That's right.
It's at this point that Binx and Kate have found what they were looking for. Certification. Certification that a moment in both their lives, marked by the simple gesture of a flower and a common thought makes everything real now; not just the image of things being real. They have each other, not despair and everydayness.