“They rode on. The horses trudged sullenly the alien ground and the round earth rolled beneath them silently milling the greater void wherein they were contained. In the neuter austerity of that terrain all phenomena were bequeathed a strange equality and no one thing nor spider nor stone nor blade of grass could put forth claim to precedence. The very clarity of these articles belied their familiarity, for the eye predicates on some feature or part and here was nothing more luminous than another and nothing more enshadowed and in the optical democracy of such landscapes all preference is made whimsical and a man and a rock become endowed with unguessed kinships.”
I nearly came in my pants at the phrase, ‘optical democracy’. Travelling the world allows plenty of glorious time and space for absorption. And books. I first became aware of Cormac Mccarthy as the author of one of my favourite films starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin: No Country For Old Men. This book lasted one sitting in Northern Goa.
Blood Meridian, I read in Himachal Pradesh and it has one of the most monstrously intelligent and nihilistic characters in Judge Holden. The Road is bleak, bleak bleak. And then gets more bleak. And dark. And cold. And wet. And more bleak. Collette and I shared the reading and we wept. A lot.
These three works of fiction contain some of the greatest descriptive writing there is. Cormac Mccarthy manages not only to describe objects and items with incredible accuracy, but he also keeps his words proper in theme, like. To particularize so skillfuly, and to maintain the right atmosphere, we need the right words at our disposal. Donald Trump declared, ‘I know words…I have the best words’ but that’s a load of ferret-shit. Cormac Mccarthy knows words and HE has the best words. If you want to learn some new words, don’t listen to Trump, read Cormac Mccarthy.
Here are ten of Cormac Mccarthy’s best words from these three books. How many do you know?
Behind them came wagons drawn by slaves in harness and piled with goods of war and after them women, perhaps a dozen in number, and lastly a supplementary consort of catamites illclothed against the cold and fitted in dog collars and yoked each to each.
Their fires dotted the plain that night and he sat with his back to the wind and drank from an army canteen and ate a handful of parched corn for his supper. All across those reaches the yammer and yap of the starving wolves relayed and to the north the silent lightning rigged a broken lyre upon the world’s dark rim.
That day their way took them upon a vast mosaic pavement cobbled up from tiny blocks of jasper, carnelian, agate. A thousand acres wide where the wind sang in their groutless interstices.
No Country For Old Men
The rifle would shoot half minute of angle groups. Five inch groups at one thousand yards. The spot he’d picked to shoot from lay just below a long talus of lava scree and it would put him well within that distance. Except that it would take the better part of an hour to get there and the antelope were grazing away from him. The best he could say about any of it was that there was no wind.
A broad staircase ascending. Fine Morris paper on the walls, waterstained and sagging. The plaster ceiling was bellied in great swags and the yellowed dentil molding was bowed and sprung from the upper walls.
People sitting on the sidewalk in the dawn half immolate and smoking in their clothes. Like failed sectarian suicides. Others would come to help them. Within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. The screams of the murdered.
In the morning they crossed a bed of thunderstones clustered on that heath like the ossified eggs of some primal groundbird.
His dreams brightened. Kin long dead washed up and cast fey sideways looks upon him. None spoke. He thought of his life. So long ago.
In the field the dead sedge was drifted nearly out of sight and the snow stood in razor kerfs atop the fence-wires and the silence was breathless.
They crossed a river by a concrete bridge where skeins of ash and slurry moved slowly in the current.
We have written down about 100 whilst reading the big CMC. He really is a legend. I also like potentiated, passel and extemporaneous. Trump is full of shit and just knows: ‘billions,’ ‘America’, ‘I’ and ‘fake’. Though he doesn’t know that America has a capital A. Oh and ‘wall’.
Thanks for reading, cowgirls.