What is The Passenger about?

This topic contains 63 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  mother_he 10 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • 18 Dec 2015 at 8:46 pm #7951


    Candy: “Now…I’m gonna have a coffee…” You mean, you wrote that before you had coffee? I was going to suggest cutting down, hehehe! I’d too like to respond to Richard’s post:

    Richard: Some of my theories have survived the test of time for me personally, and by that I mean I am just as convinced of the validity now as before (e.g., the pentalogy of the first 5 novels I’ve been alluding to here, united by the Elements), and I never expect others to subscribe to them at all in the first place. Even my more oddball playful ones I retain and continue to accumulate supporting evidence when I can (e.g., the Rennes-le-Chateau echoes in Blood Meridian). I was hoping that the Witliff collections would confirm or dispute some of these, but oddly enough that has not happened.

    It’s one thing if you or I or any one of us here brings up gematria in McCarthy: that is open for discussion. But it’s quite a different thing when McCarthy’s text explicitly refers to it. But does his text refer to it? Some might disagree. That is why I wrote, if anyone doubts that when McCarthy writes that 95 is the value of “Maria Barbara Bach” he is referring to gematria, I’d like to hear an alternate explanation. Anyway, the context is still unclear, as we don’t yet have the entire text, and we don’t even know if this will be in the final, published text. I’m just thrilled that McCarthy has retained his interest in the irrational and occult. The last decade or so he sounded like a propagandist automaton for the rational and scientific.

    19 Dec 2015 at 11:59 am #7955

    Richard L.

    Re: “The last decade or so he sounded like a propagandist automaton for the rational and scientific.”

    Well, I think he plays it both ways. His recruiting advertisement for new speakers at the SFI suggests that his mind is open new ideas, especially if they are fringe arguments.

    Re: “Maria Barbara Bach”

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t the name you count only that name by which you identify yourself, or think of yourself. When writing, I always put the middle initial L. into my name, probably something I started when I began to think of myself as an author, possibly after H. L. Mencken, though the name by which I was most known by in the Navy and in civilian life for years afterward was simply the four letter name “Pang,” as in THE SAYINGS OF LAYMAN PANG.

    But for years now, I’ve mostly been known by my first name. So that means my numbers have changed, apparently.

    This stuff seems mighty iffy.

    19 Dec 2015 at 2:16 pm #7956


    Richard: “This stuff seems mighty iffy.” I don’t necessarily disagree… nor agree. The way it is is the way it is. The believer (such as “Alicia”, and J. S. Bach, and perhaps even McCarthy himself) chooses the which, how, and why. Even if you stuck to one name, its number varies depending on how you count. As you can see from my above posts, the value of “Maria Barbara Bach” differs among English/Simple, Latin, and the variant of Latin Bach used that was popular in his day. And there are also other variations, such as Hebrew and Greek. The same name will likely result in a different number under each of these variations. Multiply that by the different names you use or have used in different stages of your life or in different circumstances, and you will have a multitude of numbers for your names. Off the top of my head, I don’t have a weblink, but you could google it: Essays discussing the numbers for the name “Jesus Christ” and his epithets under different gematria. And, (as you probably know) it’s not only gematria where there are variations. That occurs in the zodiac/astrology, the tarot, the elements…

    And speaking of elements…

    Candy: Way earlier you wrote: “I still have the drawing you made that day in NYC.” That pentagram aligning each of McCarthy’s first five novels with its corresponding element would be something I’d ask McCarthy about if I get the opportunity, and I’m sure it’s a question no one else would ask! I would not be the type to ask him why he doesn’t write many female characters, or what happened in the jakes. I’d just show him that image and ask if that has meaning to him, and whether he had that in mind while writing his first five novels. “It’s framed in our living room Ken.” Really?!

    19 Dec 2015 at 8:47 pm #7959

    Richard L.

    Odds are (all life is at least 6-5 against, as Damon Runyon said), that THE PASSENGER will carry about the same amount of recalcitrance as THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN or BLOOD MERIDIAN. There will be a kaleidoscope of patterns and the pattern you see when you look into the magic mirror of the book will be the one you put there so that you might find your way.

    To paraphrase McCarthy himself.

    Numerology will likely be but one melody in the opus. There will also be numerous counter-melodies.

    If you haven’t yet read the first chapter of Andrew Crumey’s MOBIOUS DICK, you ought to–in this one chapter, he ties in THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN, Jung, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TOMCAT MURR, Chapter 96 of MOBY DICK, Quantum Mechanics, Erwin Schrodinger’s cat and Robert Schumann’s stay in a clinic similar to that in Thomas Mann’s masterpiece. A wow of a chapter, drawing enticing connections all around. Schrodinger came up with his famous equation while in such an institution, and I suppose that in THE PASSENGER there will a similar plot.

    Patterns, synchronicity, amazing history. In other chapters there is some nice fiction, but oh that first chapter will set your mouth agape.

    22 Dec 2015 at 7:46 am #7963

    Candy Minx

    Really. Yes, Ken really.

    Ive got the basic structure of a feature film filmed except for a couple of more interviews. The film is edited into four 20 minute parts. I’ve got an editor who has put together one part and he has you in it among a dozen or so montages, dizzying montages. Then interviews manifest. Yours is one of my favourites.

    I’ve posted a couple photos of your drawing on my blog here:


    I would have posted them here…but I still can not manage to post pics here…

    22 Dec 2015 at 8:26 am #7964


    Candy: That’s too funny! (I uploaded one photo to this post as an attachment, if you don’t mind.)

    I remember now, I was hit with a sudden summer allergy or whatever and I lost my voice in the morning and the best I could manage was struggle out some words and I sounded like a bullfrog. Since you had never met me, I figured that might freak you out. So I called Dudley to call you, since Dudley knew how I normally sounded, and he was quite good at deciphering my speech. My voice did recover a bit by the time we met. I might still have been under some medication; was I coherent (am I ever)? Did I even comb my hair, Hahaha! Now it’s captured on video for all to see, and hear.

    Also, you filmed a lot of people, but I think you have enough footage of just Cormac McCarthy Society folks, esp. in the conferences you’ve attended over the years, which would make a good film, or a good subset to this film.

    You must be logged in to view attached files.
    22 Dec 2015 at 8:45 am #7966

    Candy Minx

    I haven’t filmed as much as I have wanted. I have a number of interviews I really want to conduct and add…it takes a lot of crazy time.

    I like how in the John Hillcoat interview posted early in this thread that McCarthy saw as soon as he was involved in a film project….he couldn’t imagine why people work with film. It is absolutely crazy activity. Early on I used to joke that I didn’t spend enough time or money on painting…so I upped the ante with film. The good news is one can make a movie on an iPhone. However….McCarthy thinks that the world is so infused….and going to be more infused….with images and art and literature it will lose meaning…let me copy that quote here:

    CM: One school of thought says that directors shouldn’t be allowed to edit their own films. But the truth is they should be. And they should be really brutal. Really brutal.

    JH: Viewers are being hardwired differently. In film, it’s harder and harder to use wide shots now. And the bigger the budget, the more closeups there are and the faster they change. It’s a whole different approach. What’s going to happen is there will be the two extremes: the franchise films that are now getting onto brands like Barbie, and Battleship and Ronald McDonald; then there are these incredible, very low-budget digital films. But that middle area, they just can’t sustain and make it work in the current model. Maybe the model will change and hopefully readjust.

    CM: Well, I don’t know what of our culture is going to survive, or if we survive. If you look at the Greek plays, they’re really good. And there’s just a handful of them. Well, how good would they be if there were 2,500 of them? But that’s the future looking back at us. Anything you can think of, there’s going to be millions of them. Just the sheer number of things will devalue them. I don’t care whether it’s art, literature, poetry or drama, whatever. The sheer volume of it will wash it out. I mean, if you had thousands of Greek plays to read, would they be that good? I don’t think so.

    JH: No, you’re absolutely right. Just as an example, the Toronto Film Festival is one of the biggest in film festivals. They have made it, for the first time ever, much more difficult to submit a film. They charge an entry fee and they still had 4,000 submissions just this year and they boiled that down to 300.

    CM: This is just entry level to what’s coming. Just the appalling volume of artifacts will erase all meaning that they could ever possibly have. But we probably won’t get that far anyway.

    22 Dec 2015 at 9:08 am #7967

    Candy Minx

    One of the reasons I enjoy writing in different ways here at the forum…one to bring life to the written format…and that argument is associated with learning. And with transmitting meaning.

    Richard said he paraphrases McCarthy in the following…Numerology will likely be but one melody in the opus. There will also be numerous counter-melodies.

    Yes, And my issue with this approach…is that there is a powerful argument in the first sentence….that is defused by the second sentence.

    In this way…as much as I imagine that McCarthy might be correct in saying that in the future we will have so many books, and so many movies, and so many songs….McCarthy says The sheer volume of it will wash it out.

    I am fascinated by this idea…because is it really true? We have millions of insects. We have millions of stars. We have millions of waves breaking in the ocean. Does that make the waves less majestic or beautiful?

    I don’t know.I know for me the ocean is basic everyday common sensation. It’s my normal. For people in say, midwest America….they have a sense of exotic. It’s exotic for me but it’s normal to feel exotic at the beach….for me.

    What I really think “sheer volume” of movies or books or music does…is it separates a communal sharing of meaning. And THAT is what may diffuse it’s “value.” first we would have to agree on what art and literature “value” is…and god knows we just here at this forum haven’t done that kind of agreement yet after 20 years Heh heh.

    So for me Richards comments are so very valuable…because they represent a general feeling about meaning in our culture.

    It’s not that Richards statements are wrong or right. It’s that they are correct….as long as we look at art and literature with out their historic aesthetic practices and understanding their purpose and rules.

    My point being…if we don’t share in a communal dialogue about aesthetics.

    One of the weakest factors here at the forum…over all the years and discussions…is that we fall very short when it comes to aesthetics.

    1) The idea that numerology will likely be one melody in the opus.

    2) There will also be numerous counter-melodies

    Yes, thats called story telling.

    Thats called making a painting.

    Even the shape and size of a canvas or a movie has a theory and aesthetic behind it’s construction.

    One studies this sort of thing in a classcially=based art or film course.



    and another example:


    And although there are so many “melodies” as Richard astutely observes….having many layers of melodies does not have to rob an object (book, painting film) of it’s original function in a community and survival.

    We are supposed to hide the code. If we saw the code our suspension of disbelief would jar us out of reverie.

    We hide the code from you Richard….on purpose…so you can have fun while you are experiencing a fantasy world and we send secret covert messages to you.

    We use fantasy, composition, emotional portraits, and reverie to transmit knowledge to you. That knowledge is what your world calls “math”.

    In my world…with the secret cult I practice in, that I was initiated into in my teens…like a spook in university…we call it “light”.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Candy Minx.
    22 Dec 2015 at 9:54 am #7969

    Candy Minx

    Oh thanks for posting that picture Ken, Do you like the frame? When I saw it is said well how perfect for Ken’s drawing!

    22 Dec 2015 at 2:05 pm #7970

    Richard L.

    Ken, I like your theories–they are fun. I don’t think that they are either more or less true than my own, nor than in those interpretations I once held and abandoned. I do not believe in a static interpretation of McCarthy’s work.

    117, for instance. Oprah asked him about it and he said it was just a number that occurred to him. A room number and a doomsday clock in different novels. We suggested a Bible verse to correlate to it, but what do we actually have here? Only what we bring to it, nothing else.

    What McCarthy gives us in his work, especially in BLOOD MERIDIAN (and what Thomas Mann gives us in THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN), is the maze of possibilities, patterns from which we can select our own pattern.

    It is like the Goldberg Variations or E. T. A. Hoffmann’s THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TOMCAT MURR. Even though the narratives are all mixed up, you can find your own thread in the maze. Order arises from chaos.

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