Teilhard De Chardin's View Of Diminishment And The Late Stories Of Flannery O'connor
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ABSTRACT Scholars have used different approaches to study and interpret the work of Flannery O'Connor; those approaches have ranged from Feminism to New Criticism to religious (Christian and non-Christian) to psychological. These attempts to analyze and interpret her work have produced a diverse approach to understanding this intriguing author, who lived only to the age of thirty-nine because of lupus erthymatosus. The approach of this dissertation is that the presence of this disease in her life caused her to look for ways to resolve and adapt to the limitations of the disease. One prominent source for reflecting and resolving the situation was the influence of Teilhard de Chardin. Beginning in May of 1959, when she first heard of him, through the summer of 1964, when she died of the disease, she read, reviewed, and discussed his ideas in an increasing manner. In that five year period, she had collected eight books written by and about him, written numerous reviews about his work for the Bulletin, the local Catholic diocesan paper, mentioned him numerous times in her letters, and talked about him with acquaintances. Chardin's concept of progressive diminishment in convergence helped her to resolve and adapt to the pervading limitations of her long-term disease. Through two books that O'Connor found provocative, The Phenomenon of Man and The Divine Milieu, she discovered a philosophical framework called progressive diminishment operating in convergence. The gist of this Teilhardian idea is that human beings evolve throughout time developing a propensity towards psychic development as they journey towards a destination called Point Omega. Some psychic development characteristics are possession of a central body of knowledge, the concept of community, and the ability to reflect on existence. Since progressive diminishment helped O'Connor resolve and adapt to the presence of lupus erthymatosus in the last five years of her life, she incorporated his ideas into her posthumous collection "Everything That Rises Must Converge." This psychological approach analyzes the link between them and focuses on how his ideas influenced the development of literary elements in this collection.