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01 Apr 2017 at 7:21 pm #8972
Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 223, Cormac McCarthy
yylerQuote02 Apr 2017 at 4:00 am #8974
When McCarthy was telling Oprah about the subconscious, he mused that the subconscious might be a committee.
He was politely tentative, and of course that metaphor is not a new idea. We contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman famously put it, and often contradict ourselves. Scientists have recently discovered the many ways that mitochondria influences our life decisions. See Nick Lane’s Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (2006), not to mention the rising influence of mind parasites. The mythic Jungian influences of archetypes can be denied, as well as the Freudian influences of our upbringing and our suppressed fear of death and nothingness, but these things may be parts of the committee vying to their say.
Interestingly, the 1930s Kentucky spiritualist Edgar Cayce (via Hugh Lynn Cayce, ON DREAMS) referred to these internal forces as a ship’s crew responsible for the safety and the running of the ship, receiving conflicting orders to be resolved by the captain who was sometimes in rebellion against himself or at least against his own best interests. I had to think of mitochondria as well as Melville when recently reading this.
Richard L.Quote02 Apr 2017 at 2:29 pm #8975
” I entertain most nights”
What time of day do you write?
I rise at six and work through the morning, every morning, seven days a week. I find the sun has a forlorn truth before noon. The words come unbidden. By early afternoon I have to quit.
Do you find that the intensity of the material makes it difficult to continue beyond a certain point?
No, it’s not that. I entertain most nights. In the afternoon you wear the mud mask of your being. And then the guests arrive and you are a new thing. It is the unspoken promise of nightfall. It takes time. Time that hunts you, time that is calamity.
04 Apr 2017 at 8:40 pm #8983
So, there is no date when we should be expecting our journals to arrive? Getting this article in the mail has me as amped up as my red-hot Phillies’ 1-0 start.
mff9200Quote04 Apr 2017 at 9:58 pm #8984
That Paris Review thing is pretty funny. I like to muse how much funnier it would have been if Christian Kiefer had written it.
Rick WallachQuote07 Apr 2017 at 6:41 am #8990
Thanks to Wes, for his story about Dr. Deirdre Barrett, whose book, THE COMMITTEE OF SLEEP (2015), is today a free Kindle Unlimited download at Amazon.
Dr. Barrett quotes Naomi Epel several times, and I’ve long touted Epel’s own book, WRITERS DREAMING (1993).
I should also mention THE VOICES WITHIN: THE HISTORY AND SCIENCE OF HOW WE TALK TO OURSELVES (2016) by British psychologist Charles Fernyhough. Unfortunately Fernyhough does not seem to have read either Epel nor Barrett (he doesn’t cite them at least), but his work is otherwise comprehensive and is not to be missed.
Among many other things, Fernyhough gives credit to American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, a friend of William James, for coming up with the idea of “a dialogue between different aspects of the self, including a critical self or Me that questions the present self or I about what it is doing.”
Fernyhough discusses at length Julian Jaynes’ THE ORIGIN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND and the differences between the Iliad and the Odyssey, something that McCarthy might think significant. He also examines Beckett’s The Unnamable and the effect of Cormac McCarthy’s elimination of quotation marks in his text. A bunch of other insightful stuff as well.
Richard L.Quote09 Apr 2017 at 11:54 am #8993
Rejoice, people. This is pretty much what we’d expect from Cormac McCarthy. I’ve been treated to whaty you could call a sneak peek, unencumbered by the chattering conscience that attended my accidental peek at The Passenger those distant years ago. It should be out this or early next week. Meanwhile I’m working my way through it slowly and there are some heavy duty spoilers I will avoid, but here are a few tidbits. Let’s start off with one that’s right up there with “The ugly fact is books are made out of books”:
“To put it as pithfully as possible – and as accurately – the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal.”
Pithfully. Words are such gifts. It’s like falling in love all over again.
Now go ahead, tell me that one won’t be popping up in thesis and chapter and magazine article titles all over the goddamned place. I dare you. Okay, here’s another goody:
“All animals have an unconscious. If they didnt they would be plants. We may sometimes credit ours with duties it doesn’t actually perform. Systems at a certain level of necessity may require their own mechanics of governance.” I must stop right there because what immediately follows is just too terrifyingly, agonizingly good in the classic McCarthy modality to spill here and ruin for you with such clumsy de-contextualization.
I’m going to keep working my way through this today. It’s predictably rich, resonant and deep, with a boiling sulfur vent at the bottom. Just what you needed to drag you through the doldrums of springtime. My problem is, I’m cooking a huge pre-Easter/Passover dinner today including a leg of lamb that looks like someone hacked it off a sauropod for my visiting daughter, her fiance and his father since my offspring is going out of town for the holidays, so this evening had to be our seasonal family dinner. This article, arriving this morning, probably means I’m going to burn something. If not everything. Well, we’ll try – and I’ll try to post some more tidbits for you late tonight.
Rick WallachQuote09 Apr 2017 at 4:00 pm #8997
I seem to be able to already access the entire essay (plus introduction & illustrations: the way it would look in the published version) here:
I could even download/save the images onto my hard drive.
KenQuote09 Apr 2017 at 5:35 pm #8998
Good find Ken! Nice to see you here…and I am reading now. It’s painfully tiny font on my computer…but doable. I haven’t figured out how to download it….which might be handy. Or enlarge the text even if I copy and paste into word program.
In the meantime I am getting a kick out of him twice now saying “influential persons”.The article is written so conversationally…and I don’t mind.
What else is he saying…so excited!
09 Apr 2017 at 5:37 pm #8999
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