The Counselor

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  • 03 Dec 2013 at 2:48 pm #4809

    03 Dec 2013 at 5:59 pm #4810


    Francois and everyone following this, Another Nocturne has popped into my head. ‘Nocturnal after John Dowland’ (Dowland is surely the greatest composer from these Isles) by Britten is a solo-guitar piece, a set of variations based on Dowland’s song ‘Come Heavy Sleep’. It seems to start somewhere on the fringes of the universe and spirals back into the unadorned and beautiful theme which is the last music to appear. Sublime.

    I’ve started a thread where the matter of music and McCarthy might be addressed (but probably won’t be!). Which leaves this thread with the matter of tragedy…


    03 Dec 2013 at 10:48 pm #4814

    E Grande

    The not so not tragedy is done for.

    I am now turning my attention to McCarthy’s women. We have one woman who acts the way she thinks women are supposed to act and we have another who acts the way most women would want to act when their boss says “hon will you bring me a cup of coffee.”

    But I want to know more about these women in relation to McCarthy’s world. There is a scene where Laura calls Malkina after having a bad dream. Laura wants to make sure Malkina is alright. But Malkina in her formidable way scolds Laura. What do you make of the phrase “be careful of what you wish for, you might NOT get it?” I don’t get it! Christopher Bollas coined the phrase “Unthought known” and I sense that the phone call represents Laura transferring her unknown, known fears. But that is as far as my understanding goes.

    I must say, Ms. Minx, I was a little disconcerted when you mentioned you hacked into the site. Having said that perhaps you can give your insight about Lee and Malkina and the bank of computers. Trying to make sense of this scene, I rented the movie “The Thirteenth Floor” hoping for any insight into Malkina statement to Lee (page 175) “Maybe they have virtual prisons for virtual felons.”

    04 Dec 2013 at 7:18 pm #4821

    Candy Minx

    Easy Trigger, I never said I hacked this site.

    As for the computer scene…which was heavily edited for the movie(I don’t think people would sit through it)…

    Why don’t I post a version here? It’s easier to understand…

    Sidewalk café. World city. Malkina at a table with Lee – a 25 year old Chinese American,
    LEE Do you have any of the CA’s
    MALKINA Certificate Authorities.
    LEE Yes.
    MALKINA I have two of them.
    LEE Can you get the other two?
    MALKINA Yes.
    LEE You have the two that are the same one.
    MALKINA It’s still two.
    LEE Okay. What else.
    MALKINA Routing numbers and account numbers. I have the source code but you’ll still need a compiler to translate them into machine readable code.
    LEE VPN’s and Routers.
    LEE Passwords.
    MALKINA Everything I have is in there.
    LEE Yeah. Who else is in this?
    MALKINA Nobody. An advisor.
    LEE Bank guy.
    MALKINA Yes.
    LEE What’s his cut? Or does he get paid in kind?
    MALKINA That’s for me to worry about.
    LEE Are you Ukrainian? I know you’re from Buenos Aires.
    MALKINA No. Soy pura Porteña.
    LEE Yeah, well. If you weren’t connected we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
    MALKINA Does that worry you?
    LEE We’re still talking. This is going to be like past posting a horserace.
    MALKINA I don’t have a good metaphor for you. The keys work like a safety deposit box. You log one in and the other out. They’re two thousand and forty-eight bits each.
    LEE All right. What else? This is basically a spoof, isn’t it?
    MALKINA If you like. Let’s keep going. I travel pretty clean but I’m not so sure about you.
    LEE Well. It’s a going concern. I don’t keep anything around that I don’t have to.
    MALKINA Yes, well. You can have a basic toolkit with SQL servers and whatever, but a Remote Access Trojan Horse like Zrizbi or Torig is not for keeping track of your household expenses.
    LEE It’s not illegal to own one.
    MALKINA That’s not the point. When they find it they keep looking. It doesn’t make any difference how smart the hack is if you get caught. You can clone your cellphone with a SIM writer, for instance, and It’s not traceable – pretty much – but the bills still go to the number you’re cloned off of so you can’t use it forever.
    LEE We don’t want to use it forever.
    MALKINA No. But we don’t know what forever is. Forever can be pretty fucking short.
    LEE You can’t pull this off without a phone.
    MALKINA No. Of course not. But if there’s a weak link that’s probably it. Hackers think you can’t trace a cloned cellphone but that’s not exactly true. It’s just difficult. And if they get a trace they can use a stringray and locate you physically to within about five feet. You don’t want that in your life.
    LEE How many calls total.
    MALKINA Four.
    LEE Four phones. Voice-crypt.
    MALKINA Yes. Separate shoes.
    LEE Yeah, well. On the subject of security you know that nothing gets deleted off the hard drive. I mean I know you know that but this would come under time-constraints.
    MALKINA I’m not worried about that. What’s out there is out there. They think their traffic analysis is sophisticated but by definition it has to lag the protocols that generate it. As for the physical computers, you put them in the oven, set it to four-fifty and walk away. Or just pour thermite on them. I can download everything I need to take with me onto a USB stick.
    LEE Double encrypted.
    MALKINA Yes.
    LEE Random Seed.
    MALKINA Yes.
    LEE All right. Let me look at it.
    MALKINA It’s doable.
    LEE We haven’t talked money.
    MALKINA Quarter mil.
    LEE I don’t suppose you’ll tell me what the caper is worth.
    MALKINA Why not? You’re going to see it up there on the screen anyway.
    It’s twenty-two mil, give or take whatever. And if we nail all four accounts.
    LEE You could boot that quarter up a bit.
    MALKINA All right.
    LEE Five hundred K.
    MALKINA That’s not a bit. That’s double.
    LEE Four hundred.
    MALKINA Done.
    LEE Cash.
    MALKINA Cash.
    LEE Will you have it?
    MALKINA I’ll have it by tomorrow. Do you need something up front?
    LEE No. What are you going to do? Float a bank loan?
    MALKINA Something like that.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  Candy Minx.
    04 Dec 2013 at 10:31 pm #4822


    Candy, the computer stuff and the technical details and words used in that passage reminded me a little bit of the scenes in other books when there were medical details in the text, details of which I later learned McCarthy had a doctor with whom he would consult in order to make sure what he wrote was correct (sorry, but I don’t have the citation for that handy). I have no expertise in either medicine or computer science so I have not a clue about what Malkina is going on about with such things as “protocols” and a “SIM writer” and all that jargony stuff. I’m guessing, however, McCarthy did his research here and consulted a computer geek or two. Even if that’s the case, the dialogue sounded “off” to me for some reason. I did not buy it and not because Malkina is a woman. I remember when I first read it I kept thinking of McCarthy on his manual typewriter, the death of the author be damned and all that jazz. I cannot help it. What I did like, though, was the use of the word “thermite.” Yet another perfect McCarthy word. Multi-allusional and intertextual with some very weird connections to the 9/11 Truth (sic) movement, which is where I first saw it used when the conspiracy theories made their appearance shortly after the fall of the Twin Towers:

    05 Dec 2013 at 8:44 am #4824

    E Grande

    I have been thinking about that word, thermite, as well and it reminds me of the wonderful scene in BM where the Judge is making gunpowder. Perhaps all the computer jargon is just a metaphor for a recipe. The recipe having essential ingredients, the bits and bytes, to produce not gunpowder but wealth. If gunpowder gives man control over the natural world, Malkina has control over the financial economy.

    Thanks to Ms. Minx and Glass!

    05 Dec 2013 at 11:49 am #4827

    The Tramp

    Mike’s comment (that I did not read at once, one of my closest friends having been diagnosed with late-staging breast cancer: life’s real tragedies) is accurate, up to a point. The NRA promotes and sells guns then complains about insecurity. The United States and the European Union crave for drugs — they’re all liberals and sin is a thing of the past — the Mexican (Chinese, Thai, etc.) cartels sell what the globalised market wants. Except for Mexican people themselves — maybe the nicest on earth, hard working, friendly, and with strong family values — a lenient attitude towards drugs predominates and cartels are now part of our everyday lives. People who fabricate drugs, people who sell them, people who buy them, people who make money writing about them, people who suffer and die from them, this circle will not be broken easily. Richard III appears in ‘Histories’; Euripides, Aeschylus or Ibsen’s characters have no choice. Evil is a choice.

    If we accept the script/movie as a (complacent and or realistic)tragedy, we have to forget about the Classics, and accept the work as it is. A contemporary script — melodrama or tragicomedy seem more appropriate — designed for a contemporary audience not too picky about cinematography.

    A tendency that is now in full swing since NCFOM is the use of real brands and a lot of time spent in describing tools (herramienta un Spanish) and a lot of technical jargon. I’m still in the dark about who clothed Antigone or where did Hamlet by his swords & breeches. Bret Easton Ellis, Jean Échenoz (in his novel about Ravel among others) spend hours on end to find what which gloves characters wore, what were the exact technical specifications of the locomotives when people take a train, and so on and so forth. They all fall miserably short of Flaubert for realism and of Euripides/Sophocles/Shakespeare/Ibsen for tragic sense.

    The digression is not as irrelevant as it may seem. A moralist does not need such things to make his point. The movie ends;you walk out of the theatre and are left to wonder about the meaning of the whole thing. The message I got was bleak and predictable. Non sequitur as usual. The second viewing almost made me laugh. Reading/viewing the work as a comedy might be the best approach. The Tramp will turn 100 next year. He’s worth all the counsellors in the world.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  The Tramp.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  The Tramp.
    05 Dec 2013 at 1:43 pm #4830

    The Tramp

    If we admit that:
    1- If you enter the business of drug cartels there is no way out.
    2- A lot of people are depending on this market where the highest profits are made.
    3- Evil will prevail in any possible configuration (and man is defined by sin). Don’t count,there is only one.
    4- The writer creates fictions about this terrifying universe with the expected sympathy for the Devil knowing that his fictional creatures are a million miles away from a reality that is less entertaining but has reached an almost unparalleled degree of cruelty.
    5- Everyone lets him write about it, make money, and come out unscathed. Unplugged.

    What conclusion comes to your mind? The writer is merely imagining things (unlikely) or does he know more? If this is fiction, fair enough, if there is an element of truth in it, how come the man is still around? Journalists doing investigations on drug cartels and their activities are risking their lives everyday. They don’t show up in Hollywood. Could it be that Mr McCarthy is trying to tell us something even more disturbing than the situations he has chosen to explore and, now, distort for his own safety? From tragedy to fable? You may now enlighten me. There are precious little answers. Except the obvious one.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  The Tramp.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  The Tramp.
    05 Dec 2013 at 2:32 pm #4833


    >>> LEE Yeah, well. On the subject of security you know that nothing gets deleted off the hard drive. I mean I know you know that but this would come under time-constraints. <<<

    McCarthy asked around about this I’ve no doubt but my understanding is that it is not strictly true. Nor can it be since, as a graphic designer who runs up enourmous files, I would have run out of disk space thousands of times and I never have. Further when a file is overwritten what has been overwritten is irrecoverably deleted nor are all files deleted via trash/empty trash recoverable. The gratification for McCarthy resides, no doubt, not in its debatable accuracy but in the fact that this is another way of saying ‘don’t expect to be able to undo your mistakes!’.


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by  franzpeter.
    05 Dec 2013 at 2:57 pm #4834


    The matter of tragedy seems to have become completely polarised. In fairness to those on the ‘not’ side of the divide many points have been raised that those on the ‘is’ side have made no effort to answer. Instead there has been a lot of ‘a is just like b, so it must be the case that a=b’. But it isn’t the case and even if one insists that a kind of verisimilitude has been achieved by McCarthy (a point that I don’t accept) that can have no impact at all on the quality of what McCarthy has written which must be judged on it’s own merits. (I am not speaking for Francois but I believe he is making a similar point in his post immediately follwing E Grande above.)

    The tragedeans have, I think, avoided the debate, not engaged with it. After all would any one seriously deny that this is far and away the worst piece that McCarthy has produced? If there is tragedy here it is surely that.


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