I often tell people that Flannery O'Connor once wrote "the eye is an organ of judgment." Turns out, she never wrote that. When I typed "the eye is an organ of judgment" into the Google machine, the only thing that came back was a picture of me, from a previous issue of The Habit in which I had misquoted Flannery O'Connor. Sorry about that.
In my defense, however, I will say that my misquotation is a pretty good distillation of something that Flannery O'Connor actually did write, in her essay "Writing Short Stories," which you can find in Mystery and Manners:
For the writer of fiction, everything has its testing point in the eye, and the eye is an organ that eventually involves the whole personality, and as much of the world as can be gotten into it. It involves judgment.
She goes on to say that the student-writer is often so interested in thoughts and emotions that he neglects the concrete and sensory details where storytelling actually happens:
He thinks that judgment exists in once place and sense-impression in another. But for the fiction writer, judgment begins in the details he sees and how he sees them.
The eye is an organ of judgment. O'Connor is specifically talking about fiction-writing in these passages, but she could be talking about any kind of writing. In fact, she could just as easily be talking about everyday life.Read More