Flannery O’Connor’s Only Two Known Recordings

From the Criterion Collection disc Wise Blood:

Taped at the Dorothy Lamar Blount Lecture Series at Wesleyan College in 1960:

(videos courtesy of http://www.BrainPickings.Org, with attached article by Maria Popova)

While I am overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of inventions raging for slices of our finite attention, a carnival of art and creativity my generation only knows as contemporary luxury not to be lived without, I am starved for more exposure and impressions of the silenced majority who walked before this more noisy time. With what remains of most of our modern human moment being black-and-white mutings of people’s real appearances, and poorly preserved if not distorted soundtracks of their knowledge offered in voice, the call to arms for digital archiving and oral history-making must sound so much louder than it does now.

I was so moved to come across this live recording of Flannery O’Connor reading her lines I myself–a Midwestener raised Methodist then Pentecostal then Seventh-Day Adventist–was taught to know of her by heart, her core value to us and cherished truth to herself: “I am both a Southern and a Catholic writer.” To hear her say it herself in her own voice is, for me, like having Jesus show up in a dream to whisper: “I am a Christian.” Racial politics and old Southern skepticism aside, Flannery O’Connor remains one of my favorite writers of all time.


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