terça-feira, maio 19, 2009
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200906/flannery-o-connorShe saw no contradiction between her faith and her art. Just the opposite: “Because I am a Catholic I cannot afford to be less than an artist.” However, she stated,
the novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural.
This assertion, taken together with O’Connor’s assertion that the central mystery is why human existence “has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for,” constitutes the following argument: (1) from the Christian viewpoint, the modern human condition is filled with a peculiar horror; (2) therefore, to fictionally depict humans in their peculiarly horrifying aspect is necessary in order to explore the mysteries of redemption and grace.
The problem with (1) is that the Christian viewpoint does not necessitate a heightened sensitivity to that which is loathsome about humans or modern times. A heightened love of humans and the lives they create for themselves could just as easily be argued. There is a further problem. The repugnancy of O’Connor’s characters is, in her portrayal, connected to their poverty and backwardness. Yet in the essays, she is anguished by, and fundamentally hostile to, the forces—ostensibly progressive—that ask us “to form our consciences in the light of statistics.” She is hostile, in other words, to the enlightened disturbance of the culture of which the poverty and backwardness are part, and in which characters repugnantly find themselves. Some readers may find that here O’Connor is herself repugnant: that they are faced with one of those people for whom the misery and injustice of human affairs is chiefly a source of egocentric intellectual gratification, and whose political and moral instincts are distorted accordingly. However, it is precisely this troubling feature that gives O’Connor’s work its strange power.
One problem with O’Connor the exegesist is that she narrows the scope of her work, even for Catholic readers. To decode her fiction for its doctrinal or supernatural content is to render it dreary, even false, because whatever her private purposes, O’Connor was above all faithful to a baleful comic vision derived, surely, from an ancient, artistically wholesome tradition of misanthropy. Nonetheless, a spiritual drama is playing out. Only it is not the one put forward by the self-explaining author, in which she figures as an onlooker occupying the high ground of piety. On the contrary, Flannery O’Connor’s criticism reveals her as scarily belonging to the low world she evokes. She was touched by evil and no doubt knew it. That is what makes her so wickedly good.
posted by Luís Miguel Dias terça-feira, maio 19, 2009