Flannery O'Connor Knew
In Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 73, Susan Srigley discusses the sacramental and incarnational fiction of Flannery O'Connor. Explaining O'Connor's use of vivid descriptions of sensory experiences to explore the realm beyond them, and get to "the mysterious underpinnings of reality," Srigley says, "To understand the spiritual, you have to begin with the physical, you have to begin with concrete experience to try [to] move towards that deeper mystery. Because that's the way we know." She also reads a lengthy quote from O'Connor's Mystery and Manners that I won't transcribe here, but it tends to corroborate the thesis of LTK in subtle but powerful ways that, true to her style, leave you with your head thundering and your knees a bit weak. I don't know whether Srigley has read LTK, but it would be possible to arrive at similar ideas strictly through the writings of O'Connor, especially the book Mystery and Manners, which is a collection of her writings about writing fiction as a Roman Catholic in the rural southern US.
This shows once again how great artists (in the broadest sense of those who deal in the artistic, including writers) seem almost intuitively to grasp the so-called Polanyin epistemic model. Perhaps it's because God gives them a special ability to see past the material clues around them. You can see that in their eyes, if you look closely. Their gaze always seems to be looking through things rather than at them. You can feel it emanating from them. A great artist walks into a room where you are and your spirit immediately drops its jaw and says, "Ah, the fire burns brightly in this one." They are people driven by the longing to deeply engage the sensory world with their bodies and minds, with the goal of evoking profound glimpses of the stuff that life is ultimately made of. They can almost see it, almost taste it, and they must communicate it to the rest of us or die.
I might almost go so far as to say that an unrelenting sense of true knowing is the key factor separating the men from the boys, so to speak, in the arts. It may be the most important thing we can teach those who are in training in the arts. Every university-level Fine Arts student should be required, in their freshman year if possible, to take a course on LTK. Just my opinion. :-) I can tell you, I sure wish I had been taught these principles when I was a college freshmen majoring in Church Music. How many of us graduated still laboring under the misconception that music is little more than a string of notes, or a painting little more than a collection of lines and colors? "Just a bunch of stuff that happened," quoth Homer Simpson, with uncharacteristic sagacity.