Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cormac McCarthy

There are few writers I enjoy reading as much as Cormac McCarthy. I began reading McCarthy when I picked up a copy of Blood Meridian a year or so after I graduated from University. I was hooked.

McCarthy was interviewed recently by the Wall Street Journal about his writing, God, movies, and the end of the world.

WSJ: People have said "Blood Meridian" is unfilmable because of the sheer darkness and violence of the story.

CM: That's all crap. The fact that's it's a bleak and bloody story has nothing to do with whether or not you can put it on the screen. That's not the issue. The issue is it would be very difficult to do and would require someone with a bountiful imagination and a lot of balls. But the payoff could be extraordinary.

WSJ: How does the notion of aging and death affect the work you do? Has it become more urgent?

CM: Your future gets shorter and you recognize that. In recent years, I have had no desire to do anything but work and be with [son] John. I hear people talking about going on a vacation or something and I think, what is that about? I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That's heaven. That's gold and anything else is just a waste of time...

WSJ: You grew up Irish Catholic.

CM: I did, a bit. It wasn't a big issue. We went to church on Sunday. I don't even remember religion ever even being discussed.

WSJ: Is the God that you grew up with in church every Sunday the same God that the man in "The Road" questions and curses?

CM: It may be. I have a great sympathy for the spiritual view of life, and I think that it's meaningful. But am I a spiritual person? I would like to be. Not that I am thinking about some afterlife that I want to go to, but just in terms of being a better person. I have friends at the Institute. They're just really bright guys who do really difficult work solving difficult problems, who say, "It's really more important to be good than it is to be smart." And I agree it is more important to be good than it is to be smart. That is all I can offer you...

WSJ: Is there a difference in the way humanity is portrayed in "The Road" as compared to "Blood Meridian"?

CM: There's not a lot of good guys in "Blood Meridian," whereas good guys is what "The Road" is about. That's the subject at hand.

JH [director of The Road]: I remember you said to me that "Blood Meridian" is about human evil, whereas "The Road" is about human goodness. It wasn't until I had my own son that I realized a personality was just innate in a person. You can see it forming. In "The Road," the boy has been born into a world where morals and ethics are out the window, almost like a science experiment. But he is the most moral character. Do you think people start as innately good?

CM: I don't think goodness is something that you learn. If you're left adrift in the world to learn goodness from it, you would be in trouble. But people tell me from time to time that my son John is just a wonderful kid. I tell people that he is so morally superior to me that I feel foolish correcting him about things, but I've got to do something--I'm his father. There's not much you can do to try to make a child into something that he's not. But whatever he is, you can sure destroy it. Just be mean and cruel and you can destroy the best person...

WSJ: Do you feel like you're trying to address the same big questions in all your work, but just in different ways?

CM: Creative work is often driven by pain. It may be that if you don't have something in the back of your head driving you nuts, you may not do anything. It's not a good arrangement. If I were God, I wouldn't have done it that way. Things I've written about are no longer of any interest to me, but they were certainly of interest before I wrote about them. So there's something about writing about it that flattens them. You've used them up. I tell people I've never read one of my books, and that's true. They think I'm pulling their leg.

WSJ: Earlier you referred to the role luck plays in life. Where has luck intervened for you?

CM: There was never a person born since Adam who's been luckier than me. Nothing has happened to me that hasn't been perfect. And I'm not being facetious. There's never been a time when I was penniless and down, when something wouldn't arrive. Over and over and over again. Enough to make you superstitious.

Read the entire article/interview HERE.

No comments: