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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“So Beautiful or So What” by Paul Simon – On Dr. Martin Luther King and other “figures in the distance”

paulsimon_sbosw

Paul Simon’s song, “So Beautiful or So What,” from his latest release is a great song for many reasons, and I will allow the song itself to mainly support my statement. I decided to post this song since today is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and since the reference to that tragic event in this song is quite intriguing. I think the song’s meaning (or purpose?) is summarized in the short question that is the chorus:

“So Beautiful, So beautiful, So what” Continue reading

“Mother Nature’s Son” – The Beatles, Chris McCandless, and C.S. Lewis on our relation to Nature

Chirs McCandless in his area

A self-portrait of Christopher McCandless in his camp on the Stampede Trail was found undeveloped in his camera after his death.

Today was a beautiful mild and sunny late winter day. In the morning I attended a memorial service for someone my age that died from cancer, and in the afternoon was able to go with my family to the “Great Sacandaga Reservoir” in Upstate NY. Walking in the warm sun along the shore, under clear blue sky and on soft white snow, with our two dogs; the snowmobiles enticing one of them like distant buzzing bugs (that was what we thought she was thinking.)

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“Penny” watching the buzzing snowmobiles!

In a few minutes we stumbled upon some deer fur; moments later finding a small area strewn with skull attached to spine and some gnawed ribs, a bent leg and hoof, the lower jawbone and more patches of hide. What was the life and death scene that left this grim memorial? Our only conclusion was that some coyotes felt themselves fortunate and that the “circle of life” is evident.

“A day in the life.” What are we to think of nature? Of our place in it? 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