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Tiers of Dreamers

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  #1  
Old 05-11-2017, 08:24 AM
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Default Tiers of Dreamers


Time to make a pretentious ass of myself. You'll need to be extremely acquainted with Cormac to appreciate this essay. I'd have included page references and quotes but I have no books with me. Sorry in advance.


Tiers of Dreamers

McCarthy has not a soul for plots. His creations dotter often aimlessly whithersoever through the darkened ghettoes of Knoxville, the bloodred mud pathways of the Appalachians or the ogin deserts of the Southwest. Yet what commonality each novel shares is a simmering just under the words unto the meet of some nameless catalyst whereupon the protagonists are visited by dreams or sudden insights, fucking rat poison indeed.

Always prophetic, often horrifying, they are, for all their brilliant phantasmagoria, moments of coherent insanity in plots otherwise nonextant and it is these moments which serve as the organizing force of the novels. The dreams range wildly, from the morbid odyssey Suttree experiences in a typhoid fugue or the kid’s sudden insight into the nature of the judge to the man’s dream of the Plato cave. But these are the apex of dreams, infused with a richness and texture that the ruder auxiliaries of the novels are incapable of attaining. There is a spiritual elitism at work here reminiscent of the Gnostic categorizations of mankind.

Shamanic traditions existing within all healthy cultures, in our own we monetize them as psychotherapists, there is an unspoken implication that few have any access to the raw medium of the world, or who are possessed by an unconsciousness either willing or able to grapple with the terror pregnant complexities of existence. Like salmon who lack the proper structures for anything but the most rudimental emotions, they’d simply go mad if forced to contemplate their lot. Not that they escape their lot. Or can. Their ignorance seems a cruel mercy. The damned truly are damned and there is nothing they can do but take down the ambiguous cases with themselves.

Suttree, the kid, Ballard, Billy, JCG, the boy, the man all are as the judge accuses, keenly aware of the emptiness and the despair. Certainly its a crime Id warrant many would refrain if given the choice but also one some might hesitatingly commit, if they thought they could get away with it.

Contrast the carnvial extravagance of Suttree’s hallucinations in a North Carolina wood to Harrogate’s viaduct fantasies of the hylic. His fantasies in proximity to a god-not-much-liking-ventriloquist. The one exception being his trek down into the sewers of Knoxville where perhaps one of those who spoke to him called: Perche sprechi? And Suttree his ineffectual redeemer who like Bell simply wants to get everyone back into the boat. Except the boat is stoved, half-capsized, and blessed lord if there are not drowned mariners bailing the ocean into the orlop. But then who can blame them? If our brains be supercomputers how many untold billions have been by nightmare nightly raped through the aeons while grinding away at the ineffable answer to this cosmic weirdward?

Glanton usurps the world in about a bad a case of the primacy as ever was heard (and would that I could sit Glanton and Black in a pueblo for a forenoon) but this of course makes intelligible his seemingly contradictory request for a tarot reading and his usurpation for he never denies the unconscious rather he asserts his mastery over it. If he saw no portents in the fire it may well be he thought to impart unto fire portents of his own. Put another way if Ahab wished equipollence with the sun (at least at first) then Glanton was set on supremacy. The difference that while Ahab would have down this dumbshow Glanton would have it up or down so long as it is by his hand. But then theres another who dispenses and I would argue that the true purpose of the tarot reading was to force the judge to show his hand.

Under the apathy of the scalphunter who could recognize the perfection in the world is Ab Jones. Who attempts to hire the magics of Mother She for his own purposes. But while the magics will answer Glanton they are dumb to him. They do not say and for all that he is laid up in his river tavern of tombstones monitored by his Odin negress he seems incapable of discovering any alternative to the wrath of the path which in a Tennessee jail finally claims him. Its no mystery he dies incarcerated both physically and spiritually.

He fails to learn what Ballard learns. That to engage with evil is the same as succumbing to evil. Ballard might have been considered atheist save that he goes to church regularly enough that the parishioners know not to bother with him.

Ballard’s premonition of death is avoided by the intervention of medicae. He survives and learns. His redemption is his recognition of himself in a small boy looking out a bus window and he solidifies this with an admission to a night nurse: Im supposed to be here.

Carson Welles has a foreboding of his own death by the mark of a stray shot on a dead hag's calendar and to his murderer even confesses that he had, as Carla's mother says, previsioned it. For Anton the rule followed is to the fate arrived but like Ballard Wells in abandoning his rule also breaks free from his fated day by two minutes.

Harvey who could make dolls speak might have desired once to be a conduit for god and perhaps he did have an insight but what he saw turned him against him, rightfully so if were continuing in the Gnostic vein, yet he lacked the capacity to see beyond the malign transcendent. Which I imagine suits the sooty souled rascal just as well, him perhaps caring not that you dance alongside or against or even if you do not participate so long as you dont see beyond his vast corpus.

Call it versancy. Some have access, most dont, and those that do are in danger of being whelmed. Ellis tells Bell you cant stop whats coming. Eli says he knew the apocalypse was coming, that or something like it. Bell knows something is coming, the road though he cant name it, his first dream of the petty money lost is superseded by the image of his father carrying a horn wherein is the fire. And if all Bell can do is share these dreams with his wife he still towers over those whom McCarthy expresses pity, as in the case of Wallace, who lack any access but that pity can be extended to the nescient masses most entranced by it. Or enslaved. Poor unwitting acolytes.

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Old 05-11-2017, 08:32 AM
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I read a couple of his books. Didn't really like them.
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Old 05-11-2017, 08:59 AM
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Certainly he's a tough read but he's a lot like Shakespeare or any great artist, if you invest the time you will be more than rewarded.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bluewpc View Post
Time to make a pretentious ass of myself.
Admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:51 AM
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Hahahah aye aye. Let me tackle alcoholism first
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:54 AM
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I've read three of his books and I will likely read more. I love his style -- the poetry of it. I don't necessarily need a strong plot as long as I enjoy the writing and there are interesting things happening. Otherwise, I tend not to analyze literature too much -- I just go with where it takes me.
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bluewpc View Post
Certainly he's a tough read but he's a lot like Shakespeare or any great artist, if you invest the time you will be more than rewarded.
It's not tough; it's pretentious.
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:26 PM
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Okay -- so all the people who enjoy and get something from his writing are somehow being duped?

Or could it be that it's just not your thing?
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Old 05-11-2017, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
It's not tough; it's pretentious.


Maybe you're just not very smart. It happens. Not everyone can be intelligent.

I've read all of McCarthy's stuff and I just don't see how an intelligent person could dismiss it as pretentious.

You don't like it, yeah... the subject matter doesn't interest you, okay. But pretentious? Naw. That's like saying James Joyce was pretending to be something he wasn't. It's just not true.
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Old 05-11-2017, 02:41 PM
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Yeah -- I'm used to people thinking that the fiction I like is pretentious.

I think it implies that people say they like certain authors because they've been told they are important etc.

I'm not denying that happens -- and understanding that popularity isn't a measure a quality -- I find it hard to believe that someone like McCarthy could have the kind of success and longevity he's had -- and that he could have made the mark he's left on both modern literature and popular culture if it was all pretense. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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Old 05-11-2017, 04:33 PM
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The other thing when it comes to these online discussions about literature -- people who try to boost their own egos by proclaiming the emperor has no clothes...
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Old 05-11-2017, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Maybe you're just not very smart. It happens. Not everyone can be intelligent.

I've read all of McCarthy's stuff and I just don't see how an intelligent person could dismiss it as pretentious.

You don't like it, yeah... the subject matter doesn't interest you, okay. But pretentious? Naw. That's like saying James Joyce was pretending to be something he wasn't. It's just not true.
Do you know what pretentious means? It's not the subject matter. It's the silly crap like not using quotes and not having a translation for Spanish dialog. You or I do that we'd be laughed out of the editor's office. But this is Cormac McCarthy so it's ok.
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Old 05-11-2017, 04:49 PM
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And you think that's what makes his work pretentious?

Ha ha ha.

Yeah -- when The Road came out, all kinds of people shit themselves over the lack of "quote marks."

What they utterly failed to see is that with his style of writing, he completely understands how to write without using them, and it works just fine. In that respect, it's simply a stylistic choice.

Of course, if you can't see that or understand it, it's going to be problem for you. Oh well.

Last edited by Myers; 05-11-2017 at 04:53 PM..
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Old 05-11-2017, 04:49 PM
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I know what pretentious means.

Smart people can work around punctuation and most of us speak enough Spanish or have google.

In fact, the lack of punctuation actually adds to the experience of the read. You don't really seem stupid, but I'm not sure.
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:02 PM
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No, I don't even think you have to look it up.

In "All the Pretty Horses," for example, you come across the Spanish -- and it's like being an anglo in a Mexican American or Mexican community. There isn't a real expectation that you should understand it, but it's part of the reality. In that respect, the lack of comprehension is intentional. Besides -- I never got the feeling it detracted from my overall understanding of what was going on in the novel. It's texture -- and it's unique and unexpected, so naturally some people with a limited imagination aren't going to be able to get past it.

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Old 05-11-2017, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
I know what pretentious means.

Smart people can work around punctuation and most of us speak enough Spanish or have google.
Sure I should stop reading to go translate. Lol
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
What they utterly failed to see is that with his style of writing.
I know it's his style. His style is pretentious.
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:00 PM
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Right.

I see you're student of the "just cuz" and the "I know you are but what am I am I" school of discourse.

Good job.

And P.S. -- it's incredibly lame to quote someone and then try to edit what was said to your advantage...

Last edited by Myers; 05-11-2017 at 06:02 PM..
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:25 PM
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And you or I could be laughed out of the editors office -- because we haven't mastered the craft in a way that might let us push or go beyond the boundaries of what's expected.

Obviously, some editor at some point recognized his ability -- and the rest is history.

If you can write like McCarthy, you can bend the rules -- as long as your potential audience isn't soley made up of pedantic readers...

Last edited by Myers; 05-11-2017 at 06:33 PM..
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Right.

I see you're student of the "just cuz" and the "I know you are but what am I am I" school of discourse.

Good job.
Um, who is it calling someone else dumb? Hint, it's not me.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:40 AM
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bluewpc, after reading the responses to your piece go from direct reference to dirt kickin' at each others shoes I am now signing in to say thanks for this mornings pre work entertainment.


And GO CORMAC.

jesus christ how could anyone expect a guy with cormac for a first name act fuckin' normal at anything
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:16 AM
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Ha my god I leave for a night and it all devolves

MENENIUS
On both sides more respect.

@pierce I do what I can.

@moonpunter I understand where youre coming from and you know if someone was balking convention as a mere marketing ploy then Id say yeah youre right this is pretension same as when some jackass throws titties in a show because it has to distract from the fact that it has nothing to say. I see pretension as a symptom of either commercialism, ideology, narcissism or combinations thereof. I think what you have to do when you suspect someone of being pretentious is you have to study the work and see if they have anything to say. Tolstoy despised Shakespeare and not least among his charges against the Bard did he accuse him of being pretentious.

https://archive.org/stream/tolstoyon...sgoog_djvu.txt

Orwell pens an essay critical of this charge and I wont summarize but add my own observation that Tolsoy falls victim to some rather trite considerations. Tolstoy writes:

The relations between Gloucester and his two sons, and the feelings of these characters are as unnatural as Lear's relation to his daughters, or even more so, and therefore it is still more difficult for the spectator to transport himself into the mental condition of Gloucester and his sons and sympathize with them, than it is to do so into that of Lear and his daughters.

But in this we see a complaint nearly ubiquitous these days that the characters are unrelatable and unsympathetic. As if characters must be either. As if it is a mortal sin that anything, least of all another person, should be so alien to an audience. Its in this line, among many others, that he levels an unspoken charge of pretentiousness:

These speeches follow neither from Lear's position, nor his relation to Kent, but are put into the mouths of Lear and Kent, evidently because the author regards them as witty and amusing.
Elsewhere he voices the amusingly juvenile complaint that people in real life do not speak as Shakespeare's characters do.

But fine you say, what point has this to do with McCarthy's lack of punctuation? Well in the same way that Tolstoy lends specious charges against the Bard I would submit that your criticism against a minimalist approach to punctuation allows a lack of a mote to blind you to a forest. There is not a single novel this man has writ not enviously rich and there are volumes writ in evidence of that perhaps not even least of which is this paltry offering on the organizing force dreams play in the novels. Which isnt exhaustive mind you because I left out the discussion of Billy's dream at the end of Cities of The Plains and Duena Alfonsa's dream of the endless marionettes.

The earlier markers of pretension that I noted, and feel free to offer your own and judge him against those, dont fit with McCarthy. He published the Orchard Keeper in 1965. He didnt become renowned until the publication of All The Pretty Horses in 1991. Until then none of his books had sold more than 2000 copies. That isnt pretension. Thats dedication to an ideal.

Well whats the practical application of all this esoterism to everyday life? Why cant he just speak plainly? Plainly spoken because you cant. Consider quantum mechanics. Its hopelessly beyond all but a fraction of the species and its discoveries are distilled down into a form palatable to the layman. I subscribe the same is true to culture, consciousness being far more complex than even the freshest supercomputer currently existing on the menstrual edge of technology. That the pinnacle achievements of culture are ungraspable to the average man is understandable and like the achievements of science must suffuse through the civilization in grosser summaries. Elitism I know and the part of me affined to the proletariat recalls the slave of antiquity who could perform geometry without prior instruction but as I age I find this to be more and more true.
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
Um, who is it calling someone else dumb? Hint, it's not me.
I didn't say or even imply that you are dumb.

I just thought you might be able to say something other than repeat "his style is pretentious" -- you know, somehow enlighten us.

But if that's all you've got, fine.
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:38 AM
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@myers why don't we let all that go and have a beer. I'm having a beer? Aye I'm having a beer. The liver is evil and must be punished.
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:42 AM
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Heh. I think I did just let it go.

And it's 7:42 AM where I live -- a bit early for a beer, even for me.
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:58 AM
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two beers and a Hiroshima...I may have a problem XD

Edit: Hah make that two Hiroshimas. God I love Odessa

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Old 05-12-2017, 04:28 AM
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Mmmm. Sounds good -- but I gave up drinking a long time ago. Not that booze is necessarily the problem -- but it inevitably leads to other substances and the end result is probably me living under a bridge.

Besides, when I drink I get even more argumentative -- and we don't want that!
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Old 05-12-2017, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post

And it's 7:42 AM where I live -- a bit early for a beer, even for me.

If it was Saturday maybe, but never during the week😀
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Old 05-12-2017, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
I didn't say or even imply that you are dumb.



I just thought you might be able to say something other than repeat "his style is pretentious" -- you know, somehow enlighten us.



But if that's all you've got, fine.


Yeah, that was me.

I know Moonpunter's not dumb. He does seem I little disinterested in art, though.

I'll apologize if it helps, but I didn't really see any feelings hurt in this. It's just busting balls. I'm a construction worker.😀
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:22 AM
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@brian and the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had whiskey for dessert
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