Category Archives: Cormac McCarthy

Black: How long you felt like this?

White: All my life.

Black: And that’s the truth.

White: It’s worse than that.

Black: I dont see what could be worse than that.

White: Rage is really only for the good days. The truth is there’s little of that left. The truth is that the forms I see have been slowly emptied out. They no longer have any content. They are shapes only. A train, a wall, a world. Or a man. A thing dangling in senseless articulation in a howling void. No meaning to its life. Its words. Why would I seek the company of such a thing? Why?

Black: Damn.

White: You see what it is you’ve saved.

Black: Tried to save. Am tryin. Tryin hard.

— Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited

Black: What is it you believe in?

White: A lot of things.

Black: All right.

White: All right what?

Black: All right what things.

White: I believe in things.

Black: You said that.

White: Probably I dont believe in a lot of things that I used to believe in but that doesnt mean I dont believe in anything.

Black: Well give me a for instance.

White: Mostly the value of things.

Black: Value of things.

White: Yes.

Black: Okay. What things.

White: Lots of things. Cultural things, for instance. Books and music and art. Things like that.

Black: All right.

White: Those are the kinds of things that have value to me. They’re the foundations of civilization. Or they used to have value. I suppose they dont have so much any more.

Black: What happened to em?

White: People stopped valuing them. I stopped valuing them. To a certain extent. I’m not sure I could tell you why. That world is largely gone. Soon it will be wholly gone.

Black: I aint sure I’m followin you, Professor.

White: There’s nothing to follow. It’s all right. The things that I loved were very frail. Very fragile. I didnt know that. I thought they were indestructible. They werent.

Black: And that’s what sent you off the edge of the platform. It wasnt nothing personal.

White: It is personal. That’s what an education does. It makes the world personal.

Black: Hm.

White: Hm what.

Black: Well. I was just thinkin that them is some pretty powerful words. I dont know that I got a answer about any of that and it might be that they aint no answer. But still I got to ask what is the use of notions such as them if it wont keep you glued down to the platform when the Sunset Limited comes through at eighty mile a hour.

White: Good question.

Black: I thought so.

White: I dont have an answer to any of that either. Maybe it’s not logical. I dont know. I dont care. I’ve been asked didnt I think it odd that I should be present to witness the death of everything and I do think it’s odd but that doesnt mean it’s not so. Someone has to be here.

— Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited

The flute

In the morning they came up out of the ravine and took to the road again. He’d carved the boy a flute from a piece of roadside cane and he took it from his coat and gave it to him. The boy took it wordlessly. After a while he fell back and after a while the man could hear him playing. A formless music for the age to come. Or perhaps the last music on earth called up from out of the ashes of its ruin. The man turned and looked back at him. He was lost in concentration. The man thought he seemed some sad and solitary changeling child announcing the arrival of a travelling spectacle in shire and village who does not know that behind him the players have all been carried off by wolves.

— Cormac McCarthy, The Road

In the evening

In the evening they tramped out across a field trying to find a place where their fire would not be seen. Dragging the cart behind them over the ground. So little of promise in that country. Tomorrow they would find something to eat. Night overtook them on a muddy road. They crossed into a field and plodded on toward a distant stand of trees skylighted stark and black against the last of the visible world. By the time they got there it was dark of night. He held the boy’s hand and kicked up limbs and brush and got a fire going. The wood was damp but he shaved the dead bark off with his knife and he stacked brush and sticks all about to dry in the heat. Then he spread the sheet of plastic on the ground and got the coats and blankets from the cart and he took off their damp and muddy shoes and they sat there in silence with their hands outheld to the flames. He tried to think of something to say but he could not. He’d had this feeling before, beyond the numbness and the dull despair. The world shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought. How much was gone already? The sacred idiom shorn of its referents and so of its reality. Drawing down like something trying to preserve heat. In time to wink out forever.

— Cormac McCarthy, The Road