Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OoooO'Connor - Where the Dark Goes Sweeping Across the Page

I'm partway through "Everything That Rises Must Converge" by Flannery O'Connor.  It is a collection of 9 of her short stories.  She gets recommended for reading amongst some portions of Christian literature and is maligned by many who start reading and quickly discard the books.

From wiki:
Mary Flannery O'Connor
(March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a Southern Gothic style and relied heavily on regional settings and grotesque characters. O'Connor's writing also reflected her own Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics

This is my first stab into FO and might be last.  The stories unsettled me.  My initial thinking was that it reminded me of seeing a dog hobbling along with a cast on its leg.  I also thought of a dilapidated building torn down and left in a broken heap; the rubble never moved and nothing built there.

She is certainly an excellent writer giving voice to characters and a great grasp of understanding people and places.  The characters and story was just dark.  Terribly dark.  For the few I've been through I wanted one more chapter for the nice ending.  It wasn't there.

Last night I had a great epiphany which let me deal with the stories better.  These aren't regular stories, these are horror stories.  They are meant to unsettle.  They expose something that is dark, evil, or sinful.  It is unsettling due to the frame it's put in.  Something (person or aspect) should be good and isn't.  Or it is virtue that is twisted and displayed (often blindly) for an evil.  Having pity on someone isn't necessarily bad; giving pity to that poor little child because he's black IS.

Without a doubt the world is fallen and sin, pain and brokenness is all around.  Effective stories can appeal directly to a higher good, a deeper truth.  They can also examine the rubble all around us and by the vacuum of good, leave you longing for the sacred.  It works, it's just painful.

I'll finish the rest of these stories, probably at a slow pace.  I can only endure so much.  Your worst day is only the "worst" because the days after it were better.  It may also have been a marker for a large change, or a hammer blow in the forging process of life.

"Sorrow and pessimism are indeed, in a sense, opposite things, since sorrow is founded on the value of something and pessimism upon the value of nothing.  And in practice we find that those poets or political leaders who come from the people, and whose experiences have really been searching and cruel, are the most sanguine people in the world.  These men out of the old agony are always optimists; they are sometimes offensive optimists." -GK Chesterton

1 comment:

  1. Well put. I think I would get more benefit from O'Conner and others of her ilk were I either more sheltered or more numb.