Thursday, December 03, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part IV

please see "andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I" for a full introduction to my defense of the road, including a chat with evil person on facebook #1, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the road's lack of quotation marks is perhaps a good thing. and see part I for a chat with evil person on facebook #2, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the horror of the road is not something to avoid on the basis of fear or morality, and part III, wherein i conclusively demonstrate to evil person facebook #3 that to whatever degree the road is repetitive, that is actually a good thing.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is now playing in a movie theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

evil person on facebook #3: [enters room with his arms outstretched, shouting to all who will listen] my children, my children. i tell you the truth, dark tomes have rained down on us in these last days, black books sent down by oprah herself, books that tell of a coming doom, books that preach a relentless gospel of death, destruction, apocalypse. guard your hearts, steal your souls, arm your children--there is no redemption here; there is no light, no sign of hope. nothing but ash, ash, ash. oh, orphans of mother earth--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: hi, there.

evil person on facebook #3: oh, hi.

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: so, you have some kind of a problem with the road?

evil person on facebook #3: right, like i was saying, a great darkness has settled on the pages of the earth, casting unnatural shadows, as from some ominous pit of doom, some demon lair, some hopeless cavern of death and ash--ash everywhere--and in those three letters there is no redemption, no hope; there is--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: OK, stop, stop. i get that the road is dark, but don't you think there's at least a glimmer of hope there? something besides depressing darkness?

evil person on facebook #3: if by hope, you're referring to the final scene of the book. don't even get me started on how that one scene in no way redeems the horror of the entire work. this book, this road, is the cackling buzzard-breath of the apocalypse, it's the four horsemen and their--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: oh, please don't. i won't try to convince you that the last little bit redeems the whole--i don't think there's a happy hollywood ending tacked on to the end--but i might be foolish enough to contend that the entire ash-strewn monstrosity is in some ways redeeming. i might be crazy enough to suggest that it walks a road that's both tragedy and comedy, darkness and light, and that when we drag ourselves to the end, we find something that both redeems and leaves us cold and alone.

evil person on facebook #3: that makes two of us crazies then.

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i really think that the relationship between the man and the son--which, incidentally, seems like one of the more moving father-son relationships i've ever read--and the son and the earth, offers redemption. perhaps the goodness and light that the boy brings is bounded by time and evil, perhaps whatever good he accomplishes, however long he survives, is a pittance in a larger story of doom. perhaps the fire he carries is ultimately revealed as absurd, but as the book's title suggests, i think the story we see is properly confined to what we read in the text, not some heated guesswork of how the road views humanity's overall death or suvival. and this story is the incarnation--into great darkness is born a child of innocence and light, a child that inexplicably gives of himself in a culture that's way beyond fending for oneself.

andrew, the 17 point scale blogger: [jumping into the conversation with a quick whispered plug] yes, you said the very same thing a few years ago in a book blurb for image update and right here on this blog!

evil person on facebook #3: i don't know what you've done, but--wow!--i'm starting to feel all warm and fuzzy about the road.