Thursday, January 15, 2015

Good Story 099: Everything That Rises Must Converge

Julie and Scott offer 90 fun-filled minutes of inadequate and unworthy discussion about the patron of the podcast - Flannery O'Connor. Everything That Rises Must Converge. Eventually. This is Episode 99!

Stories discussed in-depth: Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Lame Shall Enter First, Revelation

Download or listen via this link: |Episode #099|

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  • My Dear God - Flannery O'Connor's Prayers
  • Flannery O'Connor reading "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in 1959
  • Good Story Episode 32: A Good Man is Hard to Find


    1. Before I get into listening I just thought I'd make an early comment.

      I've read Wise Blood and I loved it. The ending especially is one of my favorites. But it's not as shocking as something like A Good Man even with the ending it has. There's a lot of funny and strange moments (you'll never look at a monkey suit the same way again) and the usual Flannery goodness underneath everything. There's a line right after a shocking revelation near the end that gets me laughing out loud every time I think about it. Hazel Motes is a character that really resonated with me, even if he is very unlikeable as per Ms. O'Connor's usual type, there's something in his anger that struck me as true and haunting.

      The novel is really short-- not much longer than a novella. I read it in an afternoon. Some people don't think her novels are anywhere near as good as her short stories but from what I've read, Wise Blood is as strong as them. I still have those final lines come to me all the time.

      I can't say anything for The Violent Bear It Away as I haven't gotten to it yet. But now I suddenly want to. :)

      1. After reading these stories I now want to tackle her novels. Slowly and with a lot of other stuff between readings! :-)

    2. I read all her works last year and then read The Habit of Being. Wish I would have read the letters first. I highlighted the heck out of her letters and exported it out to a file.

      I remember my first read of some of her stories and they were totally opaque to me for the most part. Still I kept seing people whose taste I trusted referiing to her stories and so gave them another try some years later. That’s when they started hitting me. I think I had to grow as a Catholic first for some of it to penetrate although have more to do in this regard.

      One of the interesting things that surprised me in her letters is how much she got out of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardi. I knew of him, or at least his reputation regarding the omega point, noosphere, and some connection with Piltdown Man (some alledged he was involved in the fraud which is certainly not proven). It seems he was a rather speculative theologian with interesting ideas and as with the tendency of speculative theologians they can go right and wrong at the same time. Still despite his run ins with the Vatican and the reprimand of his work, he was later defended by some great theologians for parts of his theology such as by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. So I can understand why he would appeal to Flannery to spur her imagination.

      On a fiction sidetrack Pierre Teilhard de Chardi thoughts also appear prominently in Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos. I would not be surprised to find that Simmons was raised Catholic and that he has an ax to grind about the faith. Still I liked his Cantos, but enjoyed the second and third books much more than the first.

      Back to Flannery, I will need to get her Journals since what Scott read was super-intriguing.

      1. Wonderful about Hyperion - it's funny because I just started re-reading that book this weekend. I'll keep my eyes open for Fr, Chardin. His name keeps popping up. I have an audiobook in my Audible queue called The Jesuit and the Skull - I really need to give that a listen.

        I need to pick up Flannery's Journals too. Just reading what I had has got me writing some of my own.

    3. This episode made me smile. So much. Never apologize for talking too long...I'm pretty sure I wouldn't tire of your discussions if every episode were two hours long :)

      I read 'Everything Rises' in conjunction with the episode and will be working through the rest of the stories gradually. Like Scott, I really need time for each story to 'cure,' so to speak before I move on to the next. Each one is so rich, and leaves me feeling as if it's on the verge of something profound. I remember reading 'Wise Blood' (my first Flannery) a few years back and having this same feeling at the end - she has this marvelous way of leading the reader almost where she wants you to go, just enough to glimpse the shadow of something intriguingly other-worldly, which pulls you into a frenzied contemplation. The experience is strikingly so much like prayer and discernment, where one often starts with prescribed methods and devotions but must always make that decisive leap about how to live in your particular state of life.

      One thing I may not have noticed with the benefit of reading a scribbled-on used copy is her use of numbers in 'Everything Rises' - '165 to 200 pounds,' 'seven dollars and a half,' 'Two wings of gray har,' 'when she was ten,' 'ninth grade,' etc. I don't know if there is a significance to the whole pattern of numbers, but it is interesting that 165+200 = 365, the number of days in a year.

      Habit of Being is amazing and provides such a delightful sense of her good humor and spunk, which, I think ,does make reading her 'real' stuff less opaque. I absolutely loved that anecdote from the prayer journal that Scott shared - it's been on my to-read list for a while, but I'd been waffling about it after hearing some critics' disappointment at how 'immature' her writing was at that point (I believe she was still in grad school at the time). I will waffle no longer!

      Like Jeff, I was also a bit puzzled by her fascination with Teillhard de Chardin in her letters, since the writings of his that I'm familiar with have a bit of a 'hippie' or 'out there' flavor to them (very 'speculative, as Jeff said - I think those focus more on spirituality). If I recall correctly, she was most intrigued by his commentary on science - I remember some of her comments about efforts to reconcile theories of evolution, for example, with Christianity, which she thought to be quite a reasonable endeavor. I'd have to get my hands on one of his books about Darwinism to know for sure, though.

      Can't wait to hear you two with Br. Guy!

      1. The episode made us smile quite a bit too - thanks Joanna!

        You have me more eager to read Wise Blood.

        I am moving on in The Habit of Being, and enjoying it. So much to think about. I think she's great.

      2. Your comments made ME smile (in a good way). :-)

        I feel that Teilhard de Chardin must have been for Flannery what Marshall McLuhan's The Medium and the Light was for me. It blew my mind enough that I could only read pieces and then let it "cure." However, it was also intriguing and exciting, opening my mind to new ways of thinking. Surely that was part of what Flannery was exploring in these stories.

      3. Did you ever see Inspired Angela’s blog series on McLuhan? Quite wonderful.

      4. I didn't ... must find it! Thanks for the heads up!

    4. I'm chiming in. If you or your readers are interested in my analysis of O'Connor's story, "Greenleaf" I dissect it in excruciating detail in two posts at my blog:
      Part 1:
      Part 2:

      Sorry for the selfish plug.