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View Full Version : Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flanner O'Connor



Delphina
02-09-2015, 12:41 PM
http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090515225950/lostpedia/images/3/36/5x16_Jacob_reads_a_book.jpg

I'm going to start reading this - anyone want to do a book club thing with me and read it too and discuss it as we go?

Delphina
02-13-2015, 04:11 AM
I'm not even through the first chapter - it is SO boring. I can see how maybe back in the day it might have been edgy, but so far it's preachy without any interesting main characters.

Neither the protagonist, nor his mother are likable.

So far it's about the son of a woman who remembers when her family had money but they don't now and they live in a poor neighborhood. It takes place in the late 50's early 60's during the civil rights movement when blacks were just starting to ride buses and some whites were chagrined. The mother is afraid and racist and the son holds contempt for his mother and attempts to befriend black people (who ignore him) just to stick it in her face - not because he sees them as interesting people he wants to befriend.

I believe the main point came up already that the blacks were 'rising', but that most whites wanted them to rise in a segregated way instead of 'converging'.

I hope there is a deeper meaning than just racism is bad, but so far, that's all it looks like.

Delphina
02-13-2015, 08:32 AM
So, I finished what I thought was going to be the first chapter - turns out this is a book of short stories. I purposefully didn't read the back cover or intro because I didn't want to be spoiled, but that makes what I was reading make more sense.

There was one funny spot in the first story but the ending is confusing - it was meant to be shocking but it was only jarring because I don't understand what exactly happened or what the author's point was in it. I'm going to look it up on the internet to see if I can get some clarification.

Delphina
02-13-2015, 08:53 AM
Okay, so now I know what exactly happened, and it was close to what I thought, but I still am not sure why the author ended it that way...

After reading a review on Goodreads by someone who read all the stories but had not seen the 6th season of Lost, I can see why they had Jacob reading this: Every short story is about characters who are stuck in some bad habit or belief that effects their life in a bad way and as they are attempting and struggling to 'rise' they run into other people along the way who are also, in their own messed up ways, rising and the converging is messy.

On the island the Losties are given a second chance and are the challenges cause them to rise but also, through their experiences together, their interests and futures also begin to converge. "Live together or die alone"

Delphina
02-13-2015, 09:45 AM
Just found this video which puts together snippets from Jack's life on Lost and at the end has the quote that inspired the title of the first story in O'Flannery's collection that I just read and described.


KR4HJ4Hek-U

I think it does a great job of showing the rising of Jack and those around him and how they converged.

The quote actually does a great job of describing what happened in the church.

From wikipedia:

The title Everything That Rises Must Converge refers to a work by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the "Omega Point": "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge."[3]

stefanie
02-13-2015, 06:06 PM
I think it does a great job of showing the rising of Jack and those around him and how they converged. The quote actually does a great job of describing what happened in the church.

Wow. That made me cry like a little baby. It really gets the point.

I was going to write a whole bunch about Flannery O'Connor and this short story, but after that video, it's unnecessary.

Delphina
02-13-2015, 07:54 PM
Yeah, the person who put that together really got it well. :)

Delphina
02-15-2015, 05:41 PM
This second story entitled "Greenleaf" is also about the lower classes rising up; getting an education, marrying well, living in better housing, owning 'bulls' instead of just staying in their place as workers for the higher class and long time owners of the property.

It's interesting because the woman chagrined over the rising of the "Greenleaf" family has two sons, one an intellectual and one a businessman, who care nothing for the farm and not only do not lift a finger to run it, they also don't have a clue of how to do it. So she is very upset that the two sons of the "Greenleaf" worker she employs will end up better off than her own.

When she asks her eldest about learning to run the farm because when she dies he has to do it, he says that when she dies he plans on marrying a 'fat farm woman' to run it for him... implying that she'll be grateful to be married and not mind doing all the work herself.

The woman is horrified that all her hard work to keep the farm nice and respectable will be destroyed when she dies.

Not quite done with this one...

Delphina
02-15-2015, 05:42 PM
This second story entitled "Greenleaf" is also about the lower classes rising up; getting an education, marrying well, living in better housing, owning 'bulls' instead of just staying in their place as workers for the higher class and long time owners of the property.

It's interesting because the woman chagrined over the rising of the "Greenleaf" family has two sons, one an intellectual and one a businessman, who care nothing for the farm and not only do not lift a finger to run it, they also don't have a clue of how to do it. So she is very upset that the two sons of the "Greenleaf" worker she employs will end up better off than her own.

When she asks her eldest about learning to run the farm because when she dies he has to do it, he says that when she dies he plans on marrying a 'fat farm woman' to run it for him... implying that she'll be grateful to be married and not mind doing all the work herself.

The woman is horrified that all her hard work to keep the farm nice and respectable will be destroyed when she dies.

Not quite done with this one...

Delphina
02-18-2015, 12:31 PM
Greenleaf ended very poorly too - and it made no sense to me what the story was about or why it was written. What was her point? It was just some sad old woman angry at her situation trying to spite others and then spoiler> gets gored by a bull.


Not much connection to Lost at all. This woman reminded me nothing of any of the characters in personality or decisions. I don't think the story inspired anything on the show.

I'll keep reading...

Delphina
02-21-2015, 04:17 AM
The third story was called "A View of the Woods"

It's about a mean man who hates his son in law and lords over his daughter and their family by allowing them to live on his land and in his house, but then sells plots of the land just to spite them. His only delight is their youngest girl, his granddaughter who looks just like him and is spunky and smart. His son in law takes out his frustration against the grandfather by beating her (she's 9) around the ankles. The grandfather is mad at her for not standing up to him.

When he decides to sell the front lawn to a developer who plans to turn it into a gas station and store, the family is devastated, including his favorite grand daughter... because she likes to look out across the lawn and see 'a view of the woods'.

At this point, I'm going to go ahead and spoil it because I don't see any worth in reading it.

At the end of the story the granddaughter is so mad at him. for going ahead with the sale despite her asking him not to. that she starts throwing things in the store. He decides that maybe her father has it right and he takes her out to beat her - she attacks him and bites him and beats him until he gets so angry with her that he bashes her head in... and then he dies too of some sort of heart attack. No remorse as he goes; the girl deserved it in his eyes.

It's horrific and there is no moral to this story beyond mean people suck.

I'll read one more of these stories to see if there's anything worth while in it, but I'm starting to think O'Conner is just sick in the head. To spoil the last two stories as well - they both ended in pointless deaths before anyone could learn anything.

I guess in a way it's like Lost in that people die for no apparent reason; but nobody on the island was this bad except maybe Keamy....


EDIT: Just occurred to me that Locke's dad is very much like a lot of the people in the book; bitter, mean, egocentric, murderous and completely remorseless. Maybe that's why Jacob is reading this book while waiting for Cooper to try to kill John?

Delphina
02-21-2015, 12:10 PM
I posted my opinion on fb and a friend of mine pointed out that she O'Flannery is an excellent writer - yes, she is. The writing itself is well done - easy to imagine, easy to read (except if you figure out what's probably coming to the characters) and the irony is pretty impressive.

I just personally do not like dark, depressing endings. I prefer redemption and a positive change - someone being blessed for a good deed rather than mean people getting there comeuppance.

So this is why she is so famous - Gothic humor.

Maybe this book is what inspired Jacob (the Lost writers) to give Cooper the kind of ending he got - Jacob did write a note to Ben telling him that John could only be leader if he was able to kill his deserving of death father?

Until reading this book I always thought that was invented by Ben as a way to keep Locke from being the leader. I didn't imagine, or want to imagine, the Jacob I thought was all about redemption being also about punishment.

But the writers of Lost have put this book in Jacob's hands, not Ben's and so that is their hint - you can write fan fiction around it to get out of it, but I really think the writers should be respected in this regard.

My view of Jacob has just changed forever.

Delphina
02-23-2015, 01:32 PM
Never say 'forever'.

After more thinking on the topic I realized that the book is MIB's perspective - that each story represents what he said to Jacob on the beach:

"They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt, it always ends the same."

But Jacob means to change the endings... his face while reading the book is one of intense disagreement and he is waiting to go touch Locke, maybe even heal him/bring him back to life... he says, "Everything is going to be okay." Jacob is giving everyone in these stories a chance to start again, to get a better ending.


In the story I just read someone else is blaming their mother for his sickness and all of his problems - Parents at fault is another theme in LOST... and it becomes clear that she is not so bad as he has made out and certainly loves him - he's just so full of himself and what he wanted that he couldn't appreciate her and only saw her faults.

If it wasn't for the bleak endings I would actually like these stories more, and I'm starting to actually not mind the darkness as much as I did at the beginning.

These stories could very well be what would have happened to the Losties had they never been brought to the island.



SPOILER ALERT

In the story I just finished the young artist, broke, sick and dying goes back to live with his mother on a dairy farm after several years as a failed writer in NYC. The only thing he has written are two notebooks full of a letter to his mother carefully outlining how it was her fault that he did not have enough creativity, that she sucked it all out of him with all her rules and the way she ran things; she crushed his spirit and now he is dying. He puts the notebooks in a drawer and locks it, placing the key in his pj pocket, planning to give it to her just as he's dying.

BIG SPOILER
As he is just about to die, he gives his mother the key and she sets it on the table beside him. The doctor comes in all excited and as it turns out, this 'spiritual death' he believes he is dying is actually an illness he contracted when defiantly breaking one of his mother's rules and drinking milk right from the pail a long, long time ago. It's a fever that comes and goes and builds in you over time and gets worse and worse, but doesn't, supposedly kill you and you can eventually get better. He realizes he did this to himself by not listening to his mother (reminds me of Jack and Christian) and when she leaves the room, he takes the key back and puts it in his PJ pocket again... then, he DOES die. More dark irony.


It's at this moment that Jacob should have shown up and healed him and told him he has a job for him. haha!

stefanie
02-23-2015, 01:43 PM
Never say 'forever'... After more thinking on the topic I realized that the book is MIB's perspective

I agree. Jacob doesn't look like he's enjoying his read, either.

She's really hard to like as a writer, because her view of grace is extremely strict. I also think she wrote a lot about suffering (and how suffering figures into redemption) because she herself was very ill from young adulthood on. The "good country people" she writes about were all around her: on the farm she lived on; down the road; at church.

"Jacob's People" (as you can maybe think of the Others as being) really are a lot like Flannery O'Connor story characters.

But they're a lot like Old Testament characters too: hard-headed, disobedient (the Golden Calf is only half of it), greedy, violent. (Not only Anthony Cooper but Sawyer comes to mind, at least Sawyer in S1-S3.)

To me, O'Connor's mission as a writer was to show that among this horrible mess of humanity, grace does break through sometimes: and when it does, it's a complete mystery.

ETA: In-show, we don't know how many of those notes "from Jacob" really were. Ben has been summoning "the monster" at times. He's lied to Locke about speaking with Jacob. It may be that the little human-sacrifice drama at the pillar was either MiB's idea, Ben's, or both. It's hard for me to imagine that Jacob would have asked anyone to do such a thing. You've studied the character, though: do you think he would have?

Delphina
02-23-2015, 04:20 PM
No, I don't think it's consistent at all with the rest of what we've seen of him that we know he's done.

And when in doubt I always come back to those who we can confirm knew him best, Richard, Ilana and especially MIB.

How did he treat them and how did they behave in reaction to his influence?


Ilana made decisions like helping Jacob even though she was burnt to a crisp and had to wait for his help, keeping Frank with them even though he wasn't a candidate, because it didn't mean he wasn't important and most importantly, despite wanting to kill Ben, she considered his desperate apology and would rather let him stay with them than force him to choose Locke. If she's acting for Jacob, one of his agents, if you will, this shows that she knew he would not want her to kill Ben, if he was remorseful.

Richard even more makes the case, though, especially since he was involved in it and it's his job to be involved in it.


MIB - we know wants to leave the island, but he also wants to prove he's right - that people always come, fight, destroy and corrupt... Richard points this out to Jacob, that MIB will interfere and Jacob says if he doesn't want to, Richard can... it's his JOB to be Jacob's agent.

To figure out how he does this job, let's look at Richard's decision to help Kate and Sawyer save boy Ben's life without asking the leaders. He knew Charles especially would be opposed to saving boy Ben - but Richard says later that Jacob wanted it done. But what did we see? Richard listened to the time travelers... he doesn't know that they are candidates, but he does know they are important, and he makes a decision to do it - he is acting as Jacob's agent.

In that context, Richard's reaction to Ben's order is consistent with the saving Ben decision. Ben says Locke is supposed to kill Cooper, but Richard gives Locke Sawyer's folder so that Locke doesn't have to do it.

It's the same as the saving Ben situation - Ben may be the current leader and has authority to make decisions, but Richard is able to act outside of the leader's intentions if he believes Jacob would wants him too.

One could say, why would Jacob be okay with James killing Cooper if he didn't want Locke to do it?

Two reasons

1) Forgiveness/Redemption comes from remorse and repentance is important to Jacob - as in Ilana's story - she was going to kill Ben until he gave his explanation for what he did and said he was sorry... even though he didn't have to and could have shot her and gotten away. Cooper never did, even when faced with his own death.

2) Free will is important to Jacob. Ben going to Flocke was not what he wanted, Ilana gave him a choice and killing Cooper was not what Locke wanted, Ben wasn't giving him a choice - it was what James Ford wanted, though. It was his mission his entire life was to kill 'Sawyer'.


That just took me 1 1/2 hours to type out. But boy did it feel good. :D

NO way was it Jacob's idea to have Locke kill Cooper in order to become leader - that was MIB's influence on Ben that Richard was able to counteract by doing the job Jacob hired him to do.

stefanie
02-23-2015, 08:55 PM
I just found this article which you might find interesting; it's about Flannery O'Connor and Teilhard de Chardin's philosophy: http://toto.lib.unca.edu/sr_papers/literature_sr/srliterature_2008/crawford_carly.pdf


Ilana made decisions like helping Jacob even though she was burnt to a crisp and had to wait for his help, keeping Frank with them even though he wasn't a candidate, because it didn't mean he wasn't important and most importantly, despite wanting to kill Ben, she considered his desperate apology and would rather let him stay with them than force him to choose Locke. If she's acting for Jacob, one of his agents, if you will, this shows that she knew he would not want her to kill Ben, if he was remorseful.

Agree 100%.


To figure out how he does this job, let's look at Richard's decision to help Kate and Sawyer save boy Ben's life without asking the leaders. He knew Charles especially would be opposed to saving boy Ben - but Richard says later that Jacob wanted it done. But what did we see? Richard listened to the time travelers... he doesn't know that they are candidates, but he does know they are important, and he makes a decision to do it - he is acting as Jacob's agent ... It's the same as the saving Ben situation - Ben may be the current leader and has authority to make decisions, but Richard is able to act outside of the leader's intentions if he believes Jacob would wants him too.

Agree. Richard is definitely outside the Others' "chain of command." Doesn't he say somewhere that he doesn't answer to whoever's in charge of the Others?


Ben says Locke is supposed to kill Cooper, but Richard gives Locke Sawyer's folder so that Locke doesn't have to do it.

It also gives Sawyer a choice. Sawyer doesn't *have to* kill Cooper. He could have walked away; given Cooper back to Ben; done any number of things.

In a way Sawyer is like a character in a Flannery O'Connor story. When he's living in Dharmaville 1974-1977, it's like he's living in a kind of fake "utopia." But it's not really, though (we see the ugly sides: Radzinsky, the casual way they treat the worker who gets killed @ the site; the psychedelic drug-using interrogator, etc.) His wake-up call arrives when Juliet is killed. Then he has to decide whether to embark on another vengeance quest against Jack, or allow the grace of the situation to work its way through him.


Cooper never did, even when faced with his own death.

He was one hard-hearted, unrepentant s.o.b., I agree.


It was his mission his entire life was to kill 'Sawyer'.

The "Sawyer" he really needed to kill was his whole fake self, which was created out of anger, rage, vengeance. Seriously, Flannery O'Connor could have written a story about him.

Jacob (IMO) in LOST is kind of a stand-in for God. Not God himself, of course, but he acts in ways very much like God in both the Old and New Testament. (Saying to Ben right before his own death, "What *about* you?" is so much like YWHW saying to Job, "So, where were YOU when I made the universe?")

I have a question for you too, which I think might at least be tangentially related to talking about O'Connor's violent redemption arcs: why do you think Jacob saved Locke's life, but allowed him to remain paralyzed for 4 years, until he arrived on-Island? It's almost as if Jacob wanted Locke to suffer, or I should more specifically say: learn certain lessons from his years of suffering.


NO way was it Jacob's idea to have Locke kill Cooper in order to become leader - that was MIB's influence on Ben that Richard was able to counteract by doing the job Jacob hired him to do.

Well said.

Delphina
02-23-2015, 10:04 PM
I started to read that article, but it talks about stories I haven't read yet - so I'll come back to it after I'm done - to avoid other people telling me what to think before I have a chance and to keep away from spoilers. :D


why do you think Jacob saved Locke's life, but allowed him to remain paralyzed for 4 years, until he arrived on-Island? It's almost as if Jacob wanted Locke to suffer, or I should more specifically say: learn certain lessons from his years of suffering.

I don't know if it was making him suffer so he can learn lessons as much as needing him to not take for granted that his healing was special.

But also, Jacob may not have had a choice in it. The interesting thing about Jacob's powers is that it doesn't always seem like he's in complete control of what happens (MIB in the Light) or can't have exactly what he wants (limitations on giving Richard what he wants and rules that have loopholes)... and at times it's as if he's tapping into the island and directing the power but the island has a 'say' as to what happens as well.

Even Richard says, "The island chooses who the island chooses."

So I think Jacob touched Locke and healed him, but not all the way - not until he got to the island. It was the catalyst to his belief in the island.

Imagine if Locke was healed completely when Jacob touched him, John's relationship with the island would have been completely different.

So, short answer is :I don't know if it was Jacob's intention too, but it certainly was the island's.

Delphina
02-25-2015, 01:51 PM
Just finished 'The Comforts of Home" - ugh.

Imagine if Kate decided to get her father in trouble with the law so she could rescue her mom, but instead she ends up getting caught by him and when she tries to kill him she accidentally kills her mom and the police show up and assume she did it because she was into her dad and needed her mom out of the way.


That's what it was like; without the incest.


These stories are so twisted. On to the next...

Delphina
03-04-2015, 02:09 PM
I actually liked "The Lame Shall Lead Them"

It was about a self-righteous atheist widower social-worker who was trying to 'save' a wayward, but God-believing teen who, in the man's his eyes, was only bad because he had tough breaks. Meanwhile this man is judging his own 11 year old son who he thinks is selfish because he wants to keep money he's worked hard and earned instead of giving it away to the poor, and the boy is, in his mind, too emotional for missing his mother even thought it's only been a year since she died.

Anyway, it's interesting because the teen has a limp and is as smart, if not smarter than the man realizes and can see right through the help that is being offered - the teen believes that he has to CHOOSE to be better and that he's been bad because he's made those decisions to be bad, not because of his environment. The teen resents the help that is being offered as patronizing because he knows that if he does turn his life around and make the right choices, the man will conclude that it was the man who saved him.

The teen does move in though; he has no where else to go, and he treats the younger boy well and they become friends. He's kinder to the poor boy than his own father is, actually.

As the story unfolds you can see how the man is congratulating himself for any progress the teen makes and the teen is getting increasingly restless and starts playing on the emotions of the man until at the very end he rejects a new shoe the man offers, that will help the teen not limp - and the man is resentful of his help not being accepted. Eventually the teen purposefully gets himself in trouble just to prove to the man how wrong he is about being a savior.


SPOILER OF THE END





The man realizes he loved the teen more than his own son, feels regret, but when he goes to turn to his son, his son has jumped out a window and is dead.

I thought there would be at least one happy ending. Nope. nope. nope....

stefanie
03-04-2015, 09:43 PM
I actually liked "The Lame Shall Lead Them"...

Yeah, the idea that the social worker is going to be your savior, nope. Not in a Flannery O'Connor story. As a creator, she's kind of like YWHW in the Old Testament with Job (as one of her characters.) Her characters can't get away with squat.

I have head-canon about Jacob reading this story, and understanding why Mother made it so that he and MiB couldn't hurt each other.

Delphina
03-06-2015, 08:05 PM
Well, except that Job actually got everything back in the end, and more (though his wayward kids stayed dead, he did get more).

How do you think the book helps Jacob understand why mother made it so they couldn't hurt each other? I think mother was wrong and you can't prevent that because they did, horribly hurt each other, worse than what she probably could have imagined - for over 1000 years.


I hated the last story so much. The man was not completely all there so she kept jumping around between what he was imagining happening and what was actually happening and he just wasn't as interesting as the rest. Lots of use of the n-word in her stories and I know that is supposed to be edgy and realistic during that time period, but it just gets old.


The final review, as far as it relates to Jacob reading this book when he's about to save Locke...

I have to go back to what I said above about him finding people who were similar to characters in the story; people who were confused, hurt, in difficult situation and behaving badly, but not necessarily bad people. They just needed to be taken out of their situation and given another chance.

I imagine he would have been reading that book and seeing how spot on it was and because he needed someone to protect the island, he wanted someone who understood the dark side of human nature, but who had been given a chance to change, who chose to change and was willing to die for what helped them to change.

It's the whole 'whoever needs and receives the most forgiveness, loves more'.

People who have a wonderful family love their family.

People who didn't have it, then got it will appreciate it more because they know what it's like to not have it.


Jacob is reading this book as he's about to save Locke from his horrible family and give him a shot at an other one.