Homer without the Gods (or, the Nihilism of Cormac McCarthy)

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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12 Responses

  1. DensityDuck says:

    Argh. I’d swear that this quote was from “The X-Files”, but the only place I can find it on the Internet is somewhere else that I posted it and said that I thought it was from “The X-Files”.

    Anyway. Discussing Fox Mulder: “He’s one of the most dangerous men in the world. Not because he’s doing what he thinks is right, but because he’s doing what he thinks is the only thing fate has left for him to do.”Report

  2. Robert Cheeks says:

    Congrats on this JL, smart stuff.
    I think man comes to maturity when he recognizes the fraility of existence, the inherent evil of a fallen world, and ironically the sacredness of human life. That’s why I carry.Report

  3. RTod says:

    JL, I don’t have anything to add or expand on. But I’m commenting so you know that I really liked this.Report

  4. Plinko says:

    Very interesting, thanks, JL.

    I’ve read Child of God (among others but not Cities of the Plain yet) and I have to say there are elements that relate strongly to what you’re saying here (at least as I recollect it), though perhaps in a more prototypical fashion than a fully realized idea.Report

  5. Robert Neville says:

    I spent the night at SeaTac and read “The Road” in it’s entirety. Never Again. The book was great, too great, and I decided life is too short to read another Cormac McCarthy novel. Perhaps I can’t handle the truth, but I’m content to live with my delusions.Report

    • Herb in reply to Robert Neville says:

      “Come out, Neville!!!”

      I’m more of a Matheson guy myself….Report

    • Plinko in reply to Robert Neville says:

      The Road isn’t necessarily the best place to start, though it’s probably the most likely thanks to Oprah. Not that a lot of it isn’t brutal, but generally a lot less so than The Road. I’d give “All the Pretty Horses” a shot someday at least.Report

      • J.L. Wall in reply to Plinko says:

        Haven’t read The Road yet, either, but I agree that All the Pretty Horses is probably the best place to start with McCarthy — of those I’ve read, it’s his least … brutal work. I nearly quit on Blood Meridian several times in the first 50 pages or so — not because it wasn’t good, but because it was just difficult to deal with.Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to Robert Neville says:

      I know a few people who have the same reaction to McCarthy. It’s something I completely understand, too… that attitude tends to crop up at least once in the back of my mind per work. I enjoy reading his novels, in a holistic way, and I find them worth my time — but I can go close to a hundred pages at a time and find very little/no pleasure in reading them. (There’s something to be explored in that conundrum…)Report

  6. Chris says:

    Strangely, I think The Road is the best place to start, because unlike the couple other works of his I’ve read, it actually does have the constant presence of hope, in the form of the boy. Sure, we know, and the father likely knows, that there is no hope where they are going (though he lies to himself in order to lie to the boy), but the hope is something that is with them at all times because the boy is there, and that makes circumstances that are otherwise horrific beyond comprehension somehow less jarring. In a perverse way, that actually makes the book his most normal and mainstream work, and therefore his most approachable work.
    By the way, if you want to read a jarring work by a McCarthy, check out Remainder by Tom McCarthy. I actually found it more disturbing than The Road, even though Tom McCarthy’s world is exactly the one we find ourselves in, I guess because there’s no boy in it.Report