Friday, July 02, 2004

Flannery O'Connor & Abu Ghraib

Godspy essay on Abu Ghraib (thanks to reader David):
Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor would have considered the images of the prison scandal grotesque, but not in what she called "the pejorative sense"—of just plain images of ugliness and ignorance. For O'Connor—whose characters are some of the most memorable grotesqueries in American literature—the grotesque makes visible hidden "discrepancies" between character and belief. Such images "connect or combine or embody two points; one is a point in the concrete and the other is a point not visible to the naked eye."

Pride sets us against each other, and, most important, against God. To cure us of it, God allows us to sin. Again, St. Thomas: "the gravity of sins of pride is shown by the fact that God allows man to fall into other sins in order to heal him from pride."...

For O'Connor, God's providence was realized not despite our sins, but through them. Removing sin from life—or fiction—meant essentially cutting yourself off from the possibility of grace. Life—or literature, becomes either sentimental or obscene, and while "preferring the former, and being more of an authority on the latter," the Catholic reader fails to see their similarity.

3 comments:

Arp said...

I'm delighted to see that there's a blog on Flannery O'Connor; I've just finished the Spanish translation of The habit of being (24 years later) and I'm about to reread all her books (alas, in Spanish translation, my English isn't so good).
I'll read your blog with delight.
I've written some post on Flannery O'Connor: Compostela

TS said...

If you know of a place to make an online purchase of "Habit of Being", let me know! There's an Argentinian blogger I know who has been looking for a copy.

Elen said...

Gracias. muy interesante