Help Yourself with the Last Self-Help Book

#howtotuesday: Help Yourself with the Last Self-Help Book

Why can you size up Saturn, or a stranger, in 10 seconds—but not yourself, whom you have known all your life?

Why is the Self the only object in the Cosmos which gets bored?

Why is it that the Self—though it professes to be loving, caring, to prefer peace to war, concord to discord, life to death; to wish other selves well, not ill—in fact secretly relishes wars and rumors of war, news of murders, obituaries, to say nothing of local news about acquaintances dropping dead in the street, gossip about neighbors getting in fights or being detected in sexual scandals, embezzlements, and other disgraces?

These are but a tiny sample of the questions posed by Walker Percy in Lost in the Cosmos: The Last-Self Help Book.

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book is a tongue-in-cheek, mock self-help text containing essays, multiple-choice quizzes, and “thought experiments” authored by past Loyola University New Orleans mentor and professor Walker Percy. The book, Percy’s most popular work of non-fiction, is formatted to satirize standard self-help books while encouraging readers to seriously contemplate their Self and existential situation. Percy embarks upon an array of topics—religion, science, movie trivia, fear, exhilaration, sex, boredom—and discusses both contemporary events and popular figures (e.g. Jonny Carson, Mother Teresa, and Carl Sagan).

Loyola University Special Collections & Archives holds nine copies of Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book—five copies feature the signature (and in a single case, a rather lengthy inscription) of Walker Percy with one additional copy being inscribed by the book’s editor, Robert Giroux.

Are you interested in taking “A Preliminary Short Quiz so that you may determine whether you need to take the Twenty-Question Self-Help Quiz” or courageously embarking upon Percy’s “Twenty-Question Multiple-Choice Self-Help Quiz to test your knowledge of the peculiar status of the self, your self, and other selves, in the Cosmos, and your knowledge of what to do with your self in these, the last years of the twentieth century?” If so, visit Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30 or Friday 9:00-12:00!

For further study of Walker Percy, Loyola University Special Collections & Archives holds a significant amount of material relating to the author including the Walker Percy Papers, Percy-Walsh Correspondence, Percy-Romagosa Collection, Percy-Suhor Letters, and Patrick Samway, S.J Papers.

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