I'm biased by the topics, I guess. But Holt on Waugh on Wittgenstein is a three-barreled gem (podcast extra!); and Joy Williams on Flannery O'Connor (Conan O'Brien's thesis topic at Harvard) is quite Flannery-esque:
She was a connoisseur of racial jokes. She believed that her audience was “hostile” and that “a writer with Christian concerns needed to take ever more violent means to get her vision across to them.” She spent the last 13 years of her life in Milledgeville, most of them on crutches, her bones and joints ravaged by lupus. She died of lupus, her father as well. Sometimes she painted. Describing her self-portrait with a pheasant cock, she wrote: “I very much like the look of the pheasant cock. He has horns and a face like the Devil. The self-portrait was made . . . after a very acute siege. . . . I was taking cortisone which gives you what they call a moon face and my hair had fallen out to a large extent due to the high fever, so I looked pretty much like the portrait. When I painted it, I didn’t look either at myself in the mirror or at the bird. I knew what we both looked like.”
I know what you mean about being repulsed by the church when you have only the Mechanical-Jansenist Catholic to judge it by. I think that the reason such Catholics are so repulsive is that they don’t really have faith but a kind of false certainty. They operate by the slide rule and the Church for them is not the body of Christ but the poor man’s insurance system. It’s never hard for them to believe because actually they never think about it. Faith has to take in all the other possibilities it can.
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