Lecture 09 - “There’s not a lot of good news on the road. In times like these.”


Published on

Ninth lecture for my students in English 165EW, "Life After the End of the World," winter 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/w13/

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Lecture 09 - “There’s not a lot of good news on the road. In times like these.”

  1. 1. Lecture 9: “There’s not a lot of good news on the road. In times like these.”* English 165EW Winter 2013 6 February 2013“Every time a student sits down to write for us, he [sic] has to invent theuniversity for the occasion — invent the university, that is, or a branch of it,like History or Anthropology or Economics or English. He has to learn tospeak our language, to speak as we do, to try on the peculiar ways ofknowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing thatdefine the discourse of our community. Our perhaps I should say thevarious discourses of our community. […] I am continually impressed by thepatience and good will of our students.” — David Bartholomae, “Inventing the University” *McCarthy 175
  2. 2. Some reminders● Please pass in your papers!● Showings of 28 Days Later: ● Tonight, 5:30 p.m., South Hall 2635 ● Tomorrow, 5:30 p.m., South Hall 2635● Tonight is the last night to vote on scheduling for the first optional Douglas Adams discussion (which will be next week sometime).● As promised, I will start posting previous lecture slide shows this weekend. ● However, even once I’ve caught up, these will always be delayed by a week. At least, until the end of the quarter is almost here. In times like these.
  3. 3. Cormac McCarthy (1933–)● Born “Charles McCarthy.”● Left school without a degree to focus on his writing career.● Has received increasing critical attention since 1992’s All the Pretty Horses.● Novels are often set in the borderlands of the American Southwest, and often involve explorations of social Image from review of The Counselor. alienation through the lens of brutal violence.
  4. 4. Signification“The wall beyond held a frieze of human heads […]The teeth in their sockets like dental molds, thecrude tattoos etched in some homebrewed woadfaded in the beggared sunlight. Spiders, swords,targets. A dragon. Runic slogans, creedsmisspelled.” (90)“He’d come to see a message in each such latehistory, a message and a warning, and so thistableau of the slain and the devoured did prove tobe. He woke in the morning and turned over in theblanket and looked back down the road through thetrees the way they’d come in time to see themarchers appear four abreast.” (91)
  5. 5. In the floor of this room was a door or hatchand it was locked with a large padlock made ofstacked steel plates. He stood looking at it. Papa, the boy said. We should go. Papa. There’s a reason this is locked. The boy pulled at his hand. He was almost intears. Papa? he said. We’ve got to eat. I’m not hungry, Papa. I’m not. We need to find a prybar or something. (108)
  6. 6. He [the boy] had his fists clutched at hischest and he was bobbing up and down withfear. The man dropped the shovel and put hisarms around him. Come on, he said. Let’s justgo sit on the porch and rest a while. Then can we go? Let’s just sit for a while. Okay. They sat wrapped in the blankets and lookedout at the yard. They sat for a long time. Hetried to explain to the boy that there was no oneburied in the yard but the boy just startedcrying. After a while he even thought thatmaybe the child was right. (135)
  7. 7. “He stood in a livingroom partly burned and opento the sky. The waterbuckled boards slopingaway into the yard. Soggy volumes in abookcase. He took one down and opened it andthen put it back. Everything damp. Rotting.” (130)“Years later he’d stood in the charred ruins of alibrary where blackened books stood in pools ofwater. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the liesarranged in their thousands row on row. Hepicked up one of the books and thumbed throughthe heavy bloated pages. He’d not have thoughtthe value of the smallest thing predicated on aworld to come. It surprised him. That the spacewhich these things occupied was itself anexpectation.” (187)
  8. 8. The temporal organization of the world “No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.” (McCarthy 54)
  9. 9. “Barren, silent, godless. He thought the monthwas October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kepta calendar for years.” (4)“He’d pored over maps as a child, keeping onefinger on the town where he lived. Just as hewould look up his family in the phone directory.Themselves among others, everything in itsplace. Justified in the world.” (182)
  10. 10. He looked at the boy. You wont shoot, he said. That’s what you think. You aint got but two shells. Maybe just one. Andthey’ll hear the shot. Yes they will. But you wont. How do you figure that? Because the bullet travels faster than sound. Itwill be in your brain before you can hear it. To hearit you will need a frontal lobe and things withnames like colliculus and temporal gyrus and youwont have them anymore. They’ll just be soup.(64)
  11. 11. He took the can and sipped it and handed it back. You drink it, he said. Let’s just sit here. It’s because I wont ever get to drink another one, isnt it? Ever’s a long time. Okay, the boy said. (24)“Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingnessand night. The last instance of a thing takes theclass with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Lookaround you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knewwhat he knew. That ever is no time at all.” (28)“He stood there thinking about cows and he realizedthey were extinct. Was that true? There could be acow somewhere being fed and cared for. Couldthere? Fed what? Saved for what?” (120)
  12. 12. “After a while he [the boy] fell back and after awhile the man could hear him playing. Aformless music for the age to come. Or perhapsthe last music on earth called up from out of theashes of its ruin. The man turned and lookedback at him. He was lost in concentration. Theman thought he seemed some sad and solitarychangeling child announcing the arrival of atraveling spectacle in the shire and village whodoes not know that behind him the players haveall been carried off by wolves.” (78)“If they came down the drive they would seehim running through the trees with the boy. Thisis the moment. This is the moment.” (112)
  13. 13. “‘In relation to the history of organic life on earth,’writes a modem biologist, ‘the paltry fifty millenniaof homo sapiens constitute something like twoseconds at the close of a twenty-four-hour day.On this scale, the history of civilized mankindwould fill one-fifth of the last second of the lasthour.’ The present, which, as a model ofMessianic time, comprises the entire history ofmankind in an enormous abridgment, coincidesexactly with the stature which the history ofmankind has in the universe.” — Walter Benjamin, On the Philosophy of History, XVIII
  14. 14. The good guys“You say you cant? Then dont do it. That’s all.Because I am done with my own whorish heartand I have been for a long time. You talk abouttaking a stand but there is no stand to take.”(56) He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said. Yes. We’re still the good guys. And we always will be. Yes. We always will be. Okay. (77)
  15. 15. The boy lay with his head in the man’s lap.After a while he said: They’re going to killthose people, arent they? Yes. […] They’re going to eat them, arent they? Yes. And we couldnt help them because thenthey’d eat us too. Yes. And that’s why we couldnt help them. Yes. Okay. (127)
  16. 16. He rose and took the pistol from his belt. Thisdoor looks like the other door, he said. But it’snot. I know you’re scared. That’s okay. I thinkthere may be things in there and we have totake a look. There’s no place else to go. This isit. I want you to help me. If you dont want tohold the lamp you’ll have to take the pistol. I’ll hold the lamp. Okay. This is what the good guys do. Theykeep trying. They dont give up. Okay. (137) Well, I don’t think we’re likely to meet any good guys on the road. We’re on the road. I know. (151)
  17. 17. There are other good guys. You said so.Yes.So where are they?They’re hiding.Who are they hiding from?From each other.Are there lots of them?We dont know.But some.Some. Yes.Is that true?Yes. That’s true.But it might not be true.I think it’s true.Okay. (184)
  18. 18. Media creditsThe photo of Cormac McCarthy (slide 3) is alow-resolution copy being used only as ateaching tool, and does not diminish the valueof the original work, I believe. Original source:http://screenrant.com/cormac-mccarthy-screenplay-the-counselor-sandy-147552/