This week at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago a play opens , The Sunset Limited, that has been written by one of my favourite writers, Cormac McCarthy. I've read some his novels a couple of times, and Blood Meridian I have read 12 times. I have participated in an online book club focused on McCarthy for almost ten years and it has been an amazing source of reading material, wit and philosophical challenges. This week I am going to meet a couple of fellow participants in person for the first time. I am pretty excited to put names and faces together. So in celebration, here are a few quotes from some of Cormac McCarthy's work.
"It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way."Blood Meridian
"The truth about the world he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.
The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, the mind itself being but a fact among others." Blood Meridian
"He fell asleep with his hands palm up before him like some dozing penitent. When he woke it was still dark. The fire had died to a few low flames seething over the coals. He took off his hat and fanned the fire with it and coaxed it back and fed the wood he'd gathered. He looked for the horse but could not see it. The coyotes were still calling all along the stone ramparts of the Pilares and it was graying faintly in the east. He squatted over the wolf and touched her fur. He touched the cold and perfect teeth. The eye turned to the fire gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes that he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun's coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her. Deer and hare and dove and groundvole all richly empaneled on the air for her delight, all nations of the possible world ordained by God of which she was one among and not separate from. Where she ran the cries of coyotes clapped shut as if a door had closed upon them and all was fear and marvel. He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it or he reached to hold what cannot be held, what already ran among the mountains at once terrible and of a great beauty, like flowers that feed on flesh. What blood and bone are made of but can themselves not make on any altar nor by any wound of war. What we may well believe has power to cut and shape and hollow out the dark form of the world surely if wind can, if rain can. But which cannot be held never be held and is no flower but is swift and a huntress and the wind itself is in terror of it and the world cannot lose it."
--Cormac McCarthy, *The Crossing* (1994), pp. 126-27.
"He said:People will tell you it was Vietnam brought this country to its knees. But I never believed that. It was already in bad shape. Vietnam was just the icin on the cake." No Country For Old Men.
"What gradually became apparent to me was that language was a thing corrupted by its own successes. What had begun as a system for identifying and ordering the phenomena of the world had become a system for replacing those phenomena. For replacing the world.... Language usurps things. That's what it does. More and more I began to understand that we were not living in the world as given.... More and more language seemed to me to be an aberration by which we had come to lose the world. Everything that is named is set at one remove from itself. Nomenclature is the very soul of secondhandness. We endow things with names and then carry the names away with us. But the name is not the thing and we experience nothing."
-- Cormac McCarthy, “Whales and Men” (57-9)