Chirality in McCarthy

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  • 26 Dec 2017 at 2:32 pm #10044

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I see connections between The Fall and Blood Meridian. Clamence is, after all, a judge penitent. In the immortal words of Curly, “nyuknyuknyuk”…..


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    29 Dec 2017 at 1:32 am #10053

    cantona
    Member

    I would like to tie-in the idea of chirality with (failed) entelechy (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/entelechy): the failure of potential to fulfill itself. There are, of course, numerous moments of failed-double-ness, ergo ruined potential, in McCarthy. Could we also see such moments as failed, aborted, arrested (I’m obviously struggling to find the right term here) potential, or fulfillment? In the most tentative manner, I offer a few examples here:

    1) Outer-Dark: Could the endogamy of Culla and Rinthy be seen as examples of chirality and (failed) entelechy both? In other words, the issue of their loins is that failed potential to produce a child that an exogamous community could properly countenance as the image of its father and mother?
    2) Notice the distorted hall-of-mirrors-like imagery at the beginning of ATPHs. Auguries of chirality and (failed) entelechy to come, perhaps
    3) Billy unable to see his reflection in the wolf’s eye. Also, the wolf in The Crossing, and the lame dog at novel’s end.
    4) Likewise, the jaunty, vitalistic image of Billy at the opening of The Crossing and the diminished Billy at close.
    5) The death of JGC in Cities of the Plain – the end of the ‘All-American’ hero – and Billy’s senescence at the end.

    I’m sure there are several other examples.
    Such things are historically-coded, in my opinion. And – shameless plug warning – in an essay that will hopefully be published in the CMJ sometime next year – Cormac McCarthy’s Allegories of Fragmentation – I make such claims. Yes, I know, I have no shame.
    Anyway, chirality is a very intriguing idea. Hope I’ve got it’s meaning right.


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    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  cantona.
    29 Dec 2017 at 8:08 am #10055

    Glass
    Member

    Jim,

    I like the failed entelechy idea and the examples you provided. I thought of the ending of The Road as an example of full actualization succumbing to powerful forces —- “Once there were…” Good food for thought. I hope to read your forthcoming article.


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    29 Dec 2017 at 7:34 pm #10058

    cantona
    Member

    Peter: ‘I thought of the ending of The Road as an example of full actualization succumbing to powerful forces —- “Once there were…”’

    That’s an interesting reading. What are the powerful forces, in your opinion? Entropy? Human-caused environmental destruction? Does it matter? That final paragraph is also interesting as I don’t think it refers to ‘the man’s’ pre-apocalypse world. Entelechy as A primordial scene, then? Hmmm.


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    29 Dec 2017 at 9:38 pm #10059

    Glass
    Member

    Jim,

    Thanks. I’ve always thought it was man who brought about the apocalypse and also that maybe it doesn’t matter. But then again maybe it does.

    That’s a good point that the beautiful descriptions of the pre-apocalyptic world are before man and “the man,” which might bolster the argument the disaster was caused by humans i.e. see how lovely it was before man came along and ruined it all.

    The book might be even more timely now than when it was first published. Entelechy as a primordial scene sounds precisely right to me.

    Peter


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    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Glass.
    31 Dec 2017 at 12:27 pm #10063

    Richard L.
    Member

    Good ideas, Cantona and Glass. I like the term Entelechy, but let’s think of it in terms of mathematics or angles.

    The spiral is a cycle and it circles around but it is NOT a circle. Mark Twain said that history doesn’t repeat exactly, but it rhymes. The universe (or multiverse) is a big computer, but with a random factor built in–which makes it a one-off. Pendulums, in a perfect world, go on forever, but in the real world they wind down. The next swing is not exactly the same as the last swing. Run, Lola, run.

    Time (change) is the random factor. What a difference a day makes, Dinah Washington’s theme, was naturally a part of the soundtrack for Run, Lola, Run. The movie got it right. A good part of the movie is Lola looking at her own reflection in the glass.

    Glass mirrors were nearly perfected by the Venetians in the sixteenth century and recently I saw a documentary on Venice and how useful that invention would become. (Good grief, you should read Martin Seay’s thriller, THE MIRROR THIEF, which ties all the Venices together with synchronicity–Mann’s DEATH IN VENICE, Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Christopher Moore’s THE SERPENT OF VENICE, Shakespeare too as interpreted by Margaret Atwood in DEBT.)

    There were reflective devices before Venice, as on the waters and with metals, but light was never reflected as purely. Which brings up yet another concept we might discuss: Pellucidity. Our mirrors, improved by Venetians as they are, are still imperfect, which is where chirality again arises.

    In one of these threads, I pasted a long list of sci-fi-phi novels which have featured chirality, but it seems that the list is incomplete. Indeed, there seems to be a literary sub-cult or fad which I had not yet heard of which is fascinated with this phenomena, including Stephen King. Published by Written Backwards Press.

    Just look here:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DSIPC26/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    https://www.amazon.com/Pellucid-Lunacy-MIchael-Bailey-ebook/dp/B0773998Y8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1514744544&sr=1-1&keywords=Pellucid+lunacy

    https://www.amazon.com/Chiral-Mad-Michael-Bailey/dp/1479152439

    https://www.amazon.com/Chiral-Mad-2-Michael-Bailey/dp/1494239973

    ——-

    McCarthy’s Coldforger in BLOOD MERIDIAN can be seen as an example of chirality, and if you take that around, the post-Enlightenment world might be another.

    Perhaps Anton Chigurh is the chiral kryptonite to Sheriff Bell, which is why they never meet. “Turning and turning in the widening gyre,” the poem says.


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    31 Dec 2017 at 6:52 pm #10066

    Glass
    Member

    Great stuff, Richard. I can’t wait to follow some of those paths you’ve laid out. Thanks!


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    01 Jan 2018 at 8:56 am #10070

    cantona
    Member

    Some fascinating insights, Richard L. Your points about mirrors got my mind buzzing with all kinds of associations. Lacan’s famous mirror phase concept; the novel as an imperfect reflection of the world; modernism’s assault on realism; the importance of mirrors in surrealist art – all of which can be used as a way of reading McCarthy. Failed entelechy, then, in McCarthy could be about that chasm between ego and ego-ideal.


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    01 Jan 2018 at 2:42 pm #10072

    Candy Minx
    Member

    The mirror is a powerful metaphor from ancient initiation rites alchemical initiation rites. The mirror is literal and metaphorical that we look at our selves…we think about what we are and what we do. But most importantly that in alchemy humans are the mire of god and god is the mirror of a human. It is snot the same polarized idea of son of god or child of god….it is a reflection as in the same being. But the mirror of course distorts. Achemists infiltrated the freemasons and implanted their ideals. An initiation in masons is the chamber of reflection. Which of course is about facing oneself and who one is…discerning the false self and whole self. The chamber of reflection is a symbol of the cave. The alchemy of changing lead to gold is a metaphor not for materialism…although gold is fine enough the transformation is actually within the practitioner. The idea that we are formless and lead and we may activate or awaken the inner whole self….the gold. The gold is the whole potential and healing the separation of the ego or false self from the self. The mirror metaphor of human to god can be found in India, Middle East, Egypt….but it becomes separated in the Christian mythology. Son of of rather than reflection of.

    And then this alchemical line….(a novel is a mirror for us, world reflecting our own)

    “in all the world’s turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay”


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