Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Grotesque is in my Blood

I encountered O'Connor as a high school tot, and now getting to meet with her again with a little more experience behind me is all the more enjoyable. Throughout reading Wise Blood I am constantly feeling... something. The oddity of her characters, the grossness of their everyday lives... the shrunken bodies left in coffins, the dirty oily women with friendly beds, the fake preachers with fake disabilities… it all invokes a feeling. While reading I was not sure how to put these feelings into words... (I've never claimed to be a poet)... but that's just it... it IS poetic. Just like a song, film, or work of painted art makes us feel something, sometimes unexplainable, so O'Connor successfully does so in her unique writing. After all, "Fiction begins where human knowledge begins- with the senses- and every fiction writer is bound by this fundamental aspect of his medium" (816). 

Being as I'm a good Mississippi gal, I have a good deal of Faulkner under my belt, even true to a pilgrimage to his Oxford home... He was my first experience with "the grotesque." Naturally, one can see the similarities between Faulkner and O'Connor go far past their disposition to a... 'southern draaaaawl.' In fact O'Conner says herself that ".. particularly in Southern fiction, we find this quality about it that is generally described, in a pejorative sense, as grotesque. Of course, I have found that anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic." Now that I have been able to put this oddity into words... I am even more concerned not only with why in the world this theme is prominent in Southern fiction, but why a good pure Southern girl like myself takes such delight in it? I often find myself smiley and getting tingly upon experiencing good writing but... really? What is this and why do I like it?? Is it really because it's a form of truth that so successfully describes the nastiness of the world?   Maybe I’m strange… but after all I AM Southern, and therefore the grotesque seems to be in me somewhere. Is anyone else with me?
But there is a truth in the TMI descriptions, a truth that isn’t found in other works. There is a truth in the depravity of a people Christ-haunted and depraved by what is around them and what they know that they know that they know.

Veering slightly from my existential crisis… I want to bring in the grotesque in the light of Maritain and “Christian Art”… I haven’t thought it out completely… but maybe there can be some sort of redemptive quality in the grotesque. In fact there must be. To be lifted out of the miry clay… from the Church with out Christ, from out Christ-haunted fields, and even from ole girls friendly oil stained sheets… to see where we were, where we are, where everyone IS or has been… and to see hope? I’m just going to leave that there for meditation because I’m being borderline to wordy. I feel a paper topic coming on.

DM, not sure if you’ve missed my blogs of random thoughts that probably don’t make a point or satisfying the assignment. Or maybe it did? You can chastise me or congratulate me later.


1 comment:

  1. You're doing fine, BK. Maybe a little more toward answering one or two of these questions (nature of the allure, connection to redemption).