“I had two dreams about him after he died. I don’t remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin’ him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin’ through the mountains of a night. Goin’ through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin’. Never said nothin’. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead and that he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.”
“They were watching, out there past men’s knowing, where stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.”
Today’s “short story” isn’t really a short story… it’s a satirical Chili’s Menu, written in the style of my (right now – though he has competition) favorite author, Cormac McCarthy.
So, not really fiction… I’m not sure what the literary term for “literature written in the form of a fast-casual chain restaurant menu” is… whatever it is, this is it. And I enjoyed reading it.
If you don’t get where it is coming from, you haven’t read enough Cormac McCarthy. And you need to rectify that.
“You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.”
—- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
I am so tired when I come home from work – it’s a struggle to do anything other than fall asleep.
So I try to do something on the way home – anything remotely useful, fun, or interesting. Today I stopped off at a tea place, Kung Fu Tea, to get some milk tea and write a bit on my netbook.
Everything worked out, except I couldn’t think of more than a few interesting words – and once my tea was gone I packed up and went home. I sat on the couch to decompress and turned on the great mind-eater… the television.
Flicking deftly and expertly through a long-learned series of channels I ended up watching the last twenty minutes of “No Country for Old Men.” I love that movie.
First, I’m a big, big fan of Cormac McCarthy. I’ve read pretty much all of his books. I put “No Country for Old Men” in the middle of the pack… but middle of the pack for McCarthy is still better than pretty much anything else in the world.
I’m even a fan of the screenplay he wrote, “The Counselor.” Everybody else hated that movie. You see, the average moviegoer saw the previews and thought they were in for a drug deal-fueled thriller. And that isn’t what it is. It’s a Cormac McCarthy movie. The plot is merely a distraction, a feint that the magician waves in front of the audience to distract the suckers from what is really going on – you have to pay attention to the long bits of boring dialog – that’s where the real story lies.
Oh, and as for “The Counselor” – it doesn’t help that it has two scenes – one violent, one sexual – that are so far over the top that ordinary moviegoers are appalled to the point that there is no way they can enjoy the film. Again, that’s McCarthy. Read his masterpiece, “Blood Meridian,” if you want over the top. I read that the proposed Russell Crowe / James Franco movie version has been shitcanned. Probably just as well – “Blood Meridian” is unfilmable… as the best books must be.
Back to “No Country for Old Men.” I’m sure a lot of moviegoers thought that film also was a drug deal-fueled thriller… even after they had seen it. It isn’t. The movie is about the Tommy Lee Jones character and his inability to soldier on in the face of overwhelming modern evil. The rest of the plot is, again, a distraction… or more accurately a colorful backdrop against and armature holding up the story of the aging sheriff – the last of his line – as it plays out.
The movie ends with the defeated and retired Tommy Lee Jones telling of his haunting dreams. To end this way – it must also start this way or the whole thing is unfair. On my television, right after one showing ended, another began. So I stayed for a few more minutes. Sure enough, the movie starts with a five minute monologue voice-over spoken by the sheriff while scenes of beautiful West Texas desolation slide across the screen.
That voice-over, ignored and forgotten by most viewers, tells the whole story… before anything actually happens.
Our old dog, Rusty, slept on the couch through all this… as he does for pretty much everything. He has to get his solid twenty-three hours a day of sleep in or he isn’t happy. Right in the middle was a commercial for Burger King. Apparently, they have decided to take all the guts of a Whopper and wrap it in a tortilla. They call it a Whopperito.
This truly is the best of all possible worlds.
I couldn’t help but look at the sleeping dog and think about how happy he would be if he could ever get his paws on a Whopperito.
It would be the best day of his life.
“What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them.”
—-Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Shawnee Trail Sculpture, Central Park, Frisco Texas, bronze by Anita Pauwels
“But there were two things they agreed upon wholly and that were never spoken and that was that God had put horses on earth to work cattle and that other than cattle there was no wealth proper to a man.”
—-Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
“He found he was breathing in rhythm with the horse as if some part of the horse were within him breathing and then he descended into some deeper collusion for which he had not even a name.”
“…and in his sleep he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stones the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again. Finally what he saw in his dream was that the order in the horse’s heart was more durable for it was written in a place where no rain could erase it.”
“He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.”
—-Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Then and Now:
In Dallas, October means the State Fair. And the State Fair means fried stuff.
Martyn Ashton takes the £10k carbon road bike used by Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish for a ride with a difference. With a plan to push the limits of road biking as far as his lycra legs would dare, Martyn looked to get his ultimate ride out of the awesome Pinarello Dogma 2. This bike won the 2012 Tour de France – surely it deserves a Road Bike Party!
Shot in various locations around the UK and featuring music from ‘Sound of Guns’. Road Bike Party captures some of the toughest stunts ever pulled on a carbon road bike.
Blood Meridian used to be a much different novel. McCarthy’s early drafts reveal how an American masterpiece was born.
At least this is what I pictured after I came across a recipe for homemade gunpowder in McCarthy’s notes. The laminated recipe, scrawled in small cursive letters on a bail bondsman’s notepad, is part of the Cormac McCarthy Papers—98 boxes of notes, letters, drafts, and correspondences on all of the reclusive author’s works—archived at Texas State University-San Marco’s Wittliff Collections. Bought for $2 million in 2008 as a joint venture between the university and Bill Wittliff (screenwriter of Lonesome Dove), the collection includes unpublished material such as a screenplay, Whales and Men, and drafts of an upcoming novel, The Passenger (not available for reading until after publication). But of primary interest to McCarthy’s most devoted fans are the multiple drafts of the Tennessean’s magnum opus, Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West. The archives give us a unique look inside the working method of an artist who speaks little about his own work—and gives us clues as to how his reticence, when brought into Blood Meridian itself, transformed a good book into a cold-blooded masterpiece.
I’m not generally a big fan of bridal photograph shoots – but this one will do:
I live in a… well, in a completely different world than Camile Paglia. However, I’ve been reading some of her work online, am very interested in the book she is about to publish, and surprised how much we think alike, though our points of view are so very different.
Some meaty thought in some of these articles:
How Capitalism Can Save Art
Camille Paglia on why a new generation has chosen iPhones and other glittering gadgets as its canvas.
WHITHER THE ARTS? At Ricochet, Dave Carter links to Camille Paglia’s essay in the Wall Street Journal on the decline of the art world with a reminder of the wonders of the 700-year old Cologne Cathedral.
In the comments, Michael Malone of Forbes, ABC and PJM reminded readers of how the church managed to survive World War II:
I hate to burst anybody’s bubble about the ‘miraculous’ survival of Cologne Cathedral in WWII, but it was anything but that. When my parents were touring the cathedral years ago and the tour guide began describing this miracle, my father, who actually had bombed Cologne, whispered to my mother, “We left it standing because it was perfect for targetting the rest of the city.” On the same trip, sitting at a cafe enjoying his morning weiss beer and veal sausage, a local struck up a conversation with him, eventually asking, “Have you been to Cologne before, Herr Malone?” My father casually replied, “No, but I’ve flown over it a couple times. . .”
And finally, a very interesting interview with some surprising points:
I don’t like the situation where the Democratic Party is the party of art and entertainment, the party of culture, while the Republicans have become the party of economics and traditional religion. What that does is weaken both sides. One of the themes in my book is the current impoverishment of the art world because of its knee-jerk hostility to religion, which is everywhere. That kind of sneering at religion that Christopher Hitchens specialized in, despite his total ignorance of religion and his unadmirable lifestyle, was no model for atheism. I think Hitchens was a burden to atheism in terms of his decadent circuit of constant parties and showy blather. He was a sybaritic socialite and roué – not a deep thinker — whose topical, meandering writing will not last. And I’m no fan of Richard Dawkins’ sniping, sniggering style of atheism, either.
A responsible atheist needs to be informed about religion in order to reject it. But the shallow, smirky atheism that’s au courant is simply strengthening the power of the Right. Secular humanism is spiritually hollow right now because art is so weak. If you don’t have art as a replacement for the Bible, then you’ve got nothing that is culturally sustaining. If all you have is “Mad Men” and the Jon Stewart “Daily Show,” then religion is going to win, because people need something as a framework to understand life. Every great religion contains enormous truths about the universe. That’s why my ’60s generation followed the Beat movement toward Zen Buddhism and then opened up that avenue to Hinduism – which is why the Beatles went to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Then it all disappeared, when people became disillusioned with gurus. But spiritual quest was one of the great themes of the ’60s that has been lost and forgotten – that reverent embrace of all the world religions. This is why our art has become so narrow and empty. People in the humanities have sunk into this shallow, snobby, liberal style of stereotyping religious believers as ignorant and medieval, which is total nonsense. And meanwhile, the entire professional class in Manhattan and Los Angeles is doping themselves on meds and trying to survive in their manic, anxiety-filled world. And what are they producing that is of the slightest interest? Nothing. Nothing is being produced in movies or the fine arts today (except in architecture) that is not derivative of something else.
”When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end.”
–Anton Chigurh, No Country For Old Men (Cormac McCarthy)
Read even more
good great evil lines here:
I’m still excited about the Cloud Atlas movie – be sure and read the book!
Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell tells the New York Times what it was like seeing his novel come to life: “Wherever the ‘Cloud Atlas’ screenplay differed from ‘Cloud Atlas’ the novel, it did so for sound reasons that left me more impressed than piqued.”
Partly because of jerks like me. But it’s mostly your own illogical mind.
Walter Russell Mead is one of my favorite political writers. He is very wise and his columns are well written and thought out. He has a point of view, but is not overly dogmatic about it. For example – this column on student college loans is burdened with a very provocative title, but has a lot of truth within:
From the column:
The student loan program is a shining example of the blue social model in the midst of decay. It’s a program that used to work pretty well, but over time has morphed into a nightmare. Conceived at a time when college costs were low, a relatively limited number of mostly pretty qualified young people went to college and full employment made the transition from college to the workforce a straightforward process, the student loan program helped a generation of young people to a good start in life.
A sensible and helpful initiative gradually turned into a devouring beast. ….. They borrow more money than they can repay, or their school experience goes bad and the credential doesn’t work or they fail to earn it and President Obama’s hired debt collectors are turned loose on them to hound them into the grave.
Those who get in trouble, by the way, are disproportionately from poor and minority families, are immigrants, and are the first in their families to attempt higher ed. The young people that President Obama’s debt collectors are hounding most relentlessly are exactly the kind of people he hoped most to help.
Read the whole thing….
The Icebergs is leaving! I am going to miss that painting. I’ve spent hours looking at it – even wrote a (very bad) short story about it.
I was talking the other day about slide rules – I was a freshman in college when the switch from slide rules to calculators occurred. For my first… say, three semesters I always carried a slide rule to exams in case my calculator failed. A lot of strong, pleasant memories of my youth are associated with slide rules. I must not have gone out much.
Here’s a nice collection of the things.
There is a workshop coming up in October on how to build a cargo bike.
Put on by Tom’s Cargo Bikes… it looks really interesting.