Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peacock Underwear

The writer Flannery O'Connor liked peacocks. She had so many that she finally stopped counting. I like this charming story about them, from Mystery and Manners.

"Since I have been keeping peafowl, I have been visited at least once a year by first-grade school-children, who learn by living. I am used to hearing this group chorus as the peacock swings around, 'Oh, look at his underwear!' This 'underwear' is a stiff gray tail, raised to support the larger one, and beneath it a puff of black feathers that would be suitable for some really regal use to powder her nose." (p.9)

Besides being a wonderfully light story, this has something to say to me. I observe that children have a mindplay that, as an adult, I often lack...from years of hardening my boundaries, my categories. It seems I could use to soften the lines again, especially if I'd like to be a good writer, with the kind of perspectives I can fan out and strut... to the delight of unsuspecting visitors.

Any ideas on suitable perspective tenderizers?


Blogger Andrea said...

Oh, I think you do a wonderful job of widening your boundaries as a writer. I, too, can do it as a *writer*. It's just not natural or automatic as children do it.

But I liked the way you recognized that children's eyes should be like writer's that.

8:00 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Thanks, Andrea... though I am committed to cultivating it more... and, of course, I'm always curious about how others try to nurture their ways of Seeing Things Afresh.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Mark Waltz said...

That you recognize and desire to wear the lens of a child more often seems to be a great place to start.

Great to be on your site. I'll be back for more...


11:54 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Mark... yes... I'm thinking maybe I should start making it a point to go on the swings at the playground, or slurp my juice at lunchtime... this would definitely be a a start in taking myself less seriously, maybe opening my eyes afresh. :)

8:43 AM  
Blogger Andy Blanks said...

So, I was wondering through your blog after you posted on mine last week, and what do I find but a Flannery O'Connor fan!

Consider me a regular guest, now! For a while I really did have sort of an unhealthy admiration for her work. I would read my wife lines from her stories, ususally to be greeted with an, "um-hmm," or a "wow, that is nice . . ."

The religious imagery in her stories is remarkable, my favorite being Greenleaf. Or “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Or, “Good Country People.” Or “Displaced Person.” Or . . .

I'll be back. I enjoy your writing very much.

11:55 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ah, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"... one of my favorites... and the Misfit even makes an appearance in my book (I hope he gets to stay. He is pretty strong-willed, but so are professional editors! :)

8:34 AM  

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