The boy's dream of the windup penguin

This topic contains 15 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Ken 2 years, 11 months ago.

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  • 18 Feb 2015 at 6:36 pm #6581

    Glass
    Member

    Hi Rob,

    Unfortunately I haven’t read the Peter Carey book and yes I did talk quite a bit about Otto’s ideas on the mysterium tremendum and the holy other (“he was something wholly other”) during my paper at Berea, Ky., two years ago. Can you believe it’s been almost two years now? I love your ideas about the swan and connecting that to the penguin dream. So nice.


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    19 Feb 2015 at 1:23 pm #6585

    Mike
    Member

    I can’t help but think of Flannery O’Connor’s “The Lame Shall Enter First” and the description of her progressive character par excellence in the first paragraph. He’s “mechanical” and seems purposeless like McCarthy oil pump and wind-up penguin.


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    19 Feb 2015 at 5:04 pm #6589

    Glass
    Member

    Chigurh kind of adopted a robotic, automaton affect after the car crash, lumbering away from the scene like Frankenstein, in contradistinction to the fluidity and agileness of the judge dancing at the end of BM.

    Does “Fly them” from Suttree connect to the penguin dream?


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    20 Feb 2015 at 9:19 am #6594

    Ken
    Member

    I do remember the old discussion thread on the penguin. It’s been nine years(!) since The Road was published, and that was the last time I did a careful cover-to-cover reading of the novel, so my memory might need some refreshing. I made these remarks I think in a different thread, a more general-discussion thread, just after the novel was published:

    The toy penguin is yet another reminder that birds along with most life forms are dead, extinct. It is part of a larger set of references to birds (more exactly, to their absence) in The Road: “as the crow flies” as a peculiar expression; at least two encounters with empty birdnests; and I think mention of birds in flashbacks. So, birds exist only in memory, in affects left behind, in obsolete language, and in a mechanical facsimile.

    Contrast this to The Orchard Keeper, in which birds flourish and are dynamic: an owl swooping a cat away; boys flocking to Sylder’s car like birds; Ownby regarding the social worker with peregrine eyes, etc.

    Just my “occult” reading: More generally, The Road is the second “air” novel after The Orchard Keeper, and birds are symbols of air. Other “air” significances in The Road include: the disaster, whatever it is, is initiated by something aerial; bad air quality: smog totally covering up the sun that could bring life back, people wearing gas masks, the father’s persistent cough and the bad air possibly the cause of his early death; as the novel opens the father’s first act is to check the son’s breathing.

    ADD: One bit of trivia: In one of many profile pieces on McCarthy after The Road was published, I don’t remember which, McCarthy’s house in the Santa Fe area was described as having a sculpture of a bird’s nest outside the house, made by artist/wife Jennifer. Could this have been one of the empty nests mentioned in The Road?


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    20 Feb 2015 at 12:31 pm #6605

    Glass
    Member

    Interesting, Ken. Those are terrific ideas, as usual. I’ve spoken with a couple of McCarthy scholars about that nest made by McCarthy’s ex-wife Jennifer. It’s been awhile so I’m having trouble remembering what we talked about. There are some photos of it at this link with some intriguing commentary about her artwork and her marriage to Cormac to boot. Jennifer’s art is really amazing. I check it out every now and again on her Facebook page.

    http://combustus.com/jennifer-c-mccarthy-outsider-artist/


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    21 Feb 2015 at 1:32 pm #6610

    Ken
    Member

    Peter: Thanks for the link! I knew Jennifer McCarthy is an artist, but it never occurred to me to look up her artwork on the internet.

    Her nest sculpture is much bigger than I supposed it would be. I couldn’t quite make out the people in one of them, could be the family. She writes that the nest design was instigated by 9/11, and was further motivated by the desire to make her son’s childhood perfect. These sentiments echo the belief some readers had that The Road was inspired by 9/11, and interview accounts that McCarthy originated The Road when he looked out a hotel window one night and wondered about what kind of future awaited his son.

    Lee McCarthy alluded to her failing marriage in Desire’s Door, and here Jennifer McCarthy writes that her marriage was failing.


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