The Message In The Bottle Analysis

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In the essay “The Message in the Bottle”, Walker Percy attempts to separate information into two categories. These two categories are “knowledge” and “news”. Through an extended metaphor featuring a person cast away on an island, the significance of Percy’s distinction does not offer merely definitions, but rather a perspective on the man’s life and deliverance. The castaway in Percy’s story has no memory of his past. He does not know where he came from or who he is. Nevertheless, in this predicament, he discovers and assimilates to the island’s culture. When a series of bottles with messages wash up onto the shore, the castaway becomes engaged in evaluating the information they contain. In his categorization and evaluation of “knowledge” and “news”, the castaway desires to balance objectivity and personal posture. Knowledge, as referred to by the castaway, means knowledge sub specie aeternitatis. Percy defines sub specie aeternitatis as “knowledge which can be arrived at anywhere by anyone and at any time” (Percy 125).…show more content…
This is knowledge which grants eternal happiness and meaning cannot be philosophized by the castaway; it must arrive in the form of news, which is the Absolute Paradox. By faith, this news must be heard and heeded. The Christian faith is neither knowledge nor science nor a “miraculous favor which allows one to… believe the impossible” (146). Faith is a form of communication from God, which is delivered by an apostle whose message, while transcendental and paradoxical, is believable and necessary. Jesus, who comes to bring news across the seas does so with authority and steadfastness to the point of martyrdom. To the castaway who understands his own plight, and is waiting for the arrival of a message in a bottle, this is not just news, but the “Good News”, the Christian Gospel, the story of Salvation through Jesus
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