Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Flannery O'Connor on writers

Some timeless wisdom from Flannery O'Connor, on creative writing courses: "Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them" (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, 84).

People are drawn to creative writing courses because of an urge to express themselves, to unburden themselves of their deepest feelings. But self-expression is the deadly enemy of fiction. It is a thick bog in which the capacity for fictional imagination is captured and drowned: thus the need for universities to exercise preemptive stifling.

If self-expression attracts people to fiction-writing while simultaneously killing off the object of study, might there be any rough equivalents in theological study? Does our own discipline need a bit of preemptive stifling once in a while?


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