On Understanding Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor

Illustration by Ande Cook

“Sometimes Flannery O ’Connor turns readers away bewildered by her violence and seemingly hostile attitude toward life. Perhaps in her writing she is like the peacock who does not present its glory when the observer wants it, nor, even when it spreads its tail, immediately displays the “best” side. What the viewer has to accept first is the peacock’s rear:

When the peacock has presented his back, the spectator will usually begin to walk around him to get a front view; but the peacock will continue to turn so that no front view is possible. The thing to do then is to stand still and wait until it pleases him to turn. When it suits him, the peacock will face you. Then you will see in a green-bronze arch around him a galaxy of gazing, haloed suns. (Flannery O’Connor: Mystery and Manners (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969), pp. 9-10).

To seek out and demand the beautiful directly (or the happy or the edifying) does not bring results from Flannery O ’Connor either. Like the peacock she continues to present her awkward characters in their funda­mental weakness and need of salvation.” (Entire excerpt is from Flannery O’Connor and the Peacock by David R. Mayer)

Explanatory “footnote” from Manifest Propensity: This post aims to merely present a few hints for understanding Flannery O’Connor, for those interested, through the beautiful artwork of Ande Cook and the excerpt from an essay by David R. Mayer. An understanding of her life and mysterious writings are well worth pursuing and these two sources I’ve shared in this post seem to quite ably set one on the right course for that pursuit.

BMC @ Manifest propensity, 2016.

Questions & comments are always welcomed. Thanks for reading. (Now go read Flannery!)

 

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“Pascal’s Cat” – A lost fragment from the Pensees

Jerome

An artist’s rendition of Pascal and his cat.

A cache of documents, dating from the 1600’s, was recently discovered in England, near Pembroke College, Oxford. Scholars have conclusively determined that at least one fragment has been attributed to Blaise Pascal, the 16th century French genius. Continue reading

“Man in the Long Black Coat” by Bob Dylan – A lesson in songwriting and “interpretation”

Oh Mercy

“A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true. They’re like strange countries that you have to enter.” (Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume 1, 165.)

In this post I do not offer an interpretation. Instead I merely present the song and a few comments from Mr. Dylan himself regarding how one particular dream “came true.” I also am writing this as a confession that the “interpretations” I offer on this blog must remain tentative, being subservient to  the realities of artistic expression, in which there is a real sense in which artists themselves may not fully “know” their subject, let alone the “interpretation.” Continue reading

Theological Aesthetics – Video – Ben Quash – Not for “Artists Only”

supernova

“Whatever it be that keeps the finer faculties of the mind awake, wonder alive. and the interest above mere eating and drinking, money-making and money-saving; whatever it be that gives gladness, or sorrow, or hope – this, be it violin, pencil, pen…is simply a divine gift of holy influence for the salvation of that being to whom it comes, for the lifting of him out of the mire and up on the rock. For it keeps a way open for the entrance of deeper, holier, grander influences, emanating from the same riches of the Godhead. And though many have genius that have no grace, they will only be so much the worse, so much nearer to the brute, if you take from them (their art).” George MacDonald, 1824-1905, quoted in “State of the Arts, From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe” by Gene Edward Veith, Jr., p. 232. Continue reading