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Young Mary Flannery O’Connor Reads Jonathan Potter’s House of Words

Picture source.


  1. Gerard Manley Pointer says

    I bet she’d dig the poem on p. 41 about — SPOILER ALERT!!! — hitting the bear with the car.

  2. Gerard Manley Pointer says

    Once, in the city, a man with short quail-colored whiskers who had called himself a poet had recited one of his poems to Mrs Whitbone. He started off talking about building ‘a house of words’, and when he was done he asked her did she like it. ‘It was very spiritual,’ she said, letting her mouth gape open a little on ‘spiritual‘ the way Reverend Fowler did when he said something profound, only she made sure not to drool the way he sometimes did.

    In fact, Mrs Whitbone had never heard such foolishness in all her life. She didn’t know where that poet had come from that they built houses out of words, but where she came from, people built their houses out of boards and nails and tar-paper and shingles, or corrugated tin if they were poor white trash.

  3. I got to dislike O’Connor and, not having read her in a long time, cannot remember her political views. I re-read bits of Carson McCullers a few years ago, but otherwise haven’t read anybody southern for quite a long time.

    The photo is lovely, and it’s a shame about the caption, which spoils it. But it also reminded me of a friend’s child, who was less obviously intelligent at that age, certainly no reader, but sometimes used to hold her breath in company until she started to turn blue. Her family weren’t sure whether it was attention seeking behaviour or if, as O’Connor would say, she found some people irksome and this was the only way she could express it (being slow to develop language and in a foreign country).

  4. Cubeland Mystic says


    Were you that blue faced frustrated child?

    It’s okay you’re amongst friends here.

  5. No, thanks for asking, but it wasn’t me.

  6. But if I can talk about myself, I don’t know if anyone reads this apart from you or me, but I believe that despite behaving with magnanimity after being treated unprofessionally at university last term, I still seem to be perceived as the one who is odd, and that is frustrating, yes.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Oddness is necessary for excellence, don’t you think? Though unfortunately not sufficient for it. But at least your colleagues see you as something other than a mediocrity.

      Good luck sublimating your frustration into something pleasing or useful.

      • I was not complaining about my colleagues; I do not work in a university; I was talking about teachers.

        I have other worries, so that this only grinds me down further, but perhaps I don’t need to dwell on these, you’re right.

    • Cubeland Mystic says


      Like JW and yourself, I too Am troubled with the perceptions of others. They are like flies buzzing around your head at night while trying to pray. This may be shocking to you, but the world does indeed perceive me as odd. I was called to a major meeting at my employer’s corporate headquarters. So I went. I entered the board room and sat down at the mile long teak table. There I was dressed in filthy rags, tangled matted hair, and weak from fasting. Then the Lagerfuhrer turned to me and said, “Mystic you can’t come in here looking like that. You have to dress professionally!” I said to her that my rags were a sign of my faith, and that my poverty was a sign of devotion to our Lord. She called security and had me thrown out of the building.

      I was not frustrated, but at peace. You see I was sent there to be a sign of contradiction. I was meant to be a sign counter to the enslavers and their death message. So they perceived me as odd. But they are the ones who are odd with their fear and death mongering. They project it on to everything and everyone in our culture and that is proof of their oddity. Jesus wasn’t about fear. He was about being odd.

      You’re not odd, you’re probably independent, and beyond the hope of conformity. Therefore you are perceived as odd and a threat. I think it was written in the book of proverbs, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery.” This is a great truth, and another truth is “odd” people have trouble conforming to the enslaving effects of the dominant culture. Because they are already emancipated, and truly free. In other words they are odd.

  7. Jonathan Webb says

    Sorry about that.

  8. Jonathan Webb says

    Speaking as one who is himself percieved to be odd. And is.

  9. I’ve met you and I don’t believe you’ve ever had an employer. It’s nothing to do with religion, and not much to do with poverty, although I am poor. I didn’t mean my appearance. I was extremely disappointed not to get 3 essays marked last year – how many essays have I had marked in the last 30 years (how many in my life, given I didn’t write a lot at school or university), how many on Kant, how many on Hume, how many essays have I marked in the last 20 years? – and perhaps I became contemptuous (of whoever decided not to mark), and that got translated somehow into mad.

    As to being odd, I remember once overhearing someone at a new workplace say, ‘She seems pleasant and polite’.

  10. Cubeland Mystic says


    You seem to be backing away from this statement you made:
    “I still seem to be perceived as the one who is odd”

    All super heroes when confronted with the reality of what they are recoil or back away. The moment of shock as they come to terms with the new reality. You must have confessed your oddness in a moment of weakness, and now you seem to be backing away.

    You might even be a great mystic.

  11. So best, as the kids used to say.

  12. It’s arrogant to say you’re odd. But confronted with what I perceived as an accusation that I was mad I admitted to behaviour that, on reflection only, I thought might be interpreted as odd or eccentric, but which originated in, at various times: shyness, physical discomfort, clumsiness, poor eyesight, enthusiasm for the subject, a sense of fairness, a desire to enlighten (based on my teaching experience), competitiveness, happiness (especially when writing). You know the others.

  13. And fear, of others, and because of alarmist doctors.

  14. Anyway, I’ve explained myself as much as I intend to, in case anybody might have been reading, but I’ll go back now to enjoying your posts. Thanks.

  15. Why is the thought bubble coming out of her mouth?


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