August 20, 2002

Ground Control to Major Tom
Walker Percy, in his wonderful non-fiction book Lost in the Cosmos argues (much more persuasively than I can communicate here) that artists have trouble with "re-entry" to the real world after experiencing the other-worldly sphere of pure creativity. Thus they are prone to addictions, suicides and other evidences of maladjustment as they constantly re-adjust to the more prosaic world that the rest of us, more or less permanently, inhabit.

You can see this plainly in addictions, where the person begins to prefer to be permanently under the influence. But I would argue that you can also see this in the spiritual life, where we desire to be permanently under the drunkeness of spiritual highs or consolations. St. Therese is a wonderful tonic here. In Story of a Soul she writes:

I have been convinced for a long time that, though of course one must not despise anything that helps us to be more closely united to God, such inspirations, however sublime, are worth nothing without deeds.... [If these inspirations] make the latter self-satified, like the Pharisee, [they] would be like someone dying of hunger at a well-spread table.

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