Secular Prophesy

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

This post points back to a considerable amount of discussion on McCarthy’s novel The Road including some in the comment space here.

Nevertheless, my reading of the novel goes to vulnerability and implacable loss (the institutions that sustain moral and ethical codes are gone). One of the running ideas that crosses McCarthy’s work is the notion of the boundary and the irrevocable crossing of them. It’s great for fiction writers to think about these boundaries and to cross them in the act of writing. I often refer to edge and this is what I mean: what boundaries are crossed or is the writer playing it safe hence inhibiting their own creative power. We should strive to write works tha are smarter than we are.

In The Road, the environmental border has been crossed. The ambiguous and banal war is over; there’s nothing left to do. That’s one point I tried to make in this post here.

The novel works because the father and son are familiar and unfamiliar to us.

As a work of secular prophesy, The Road portends a possible future. The power of the warning is in the power of the imagery. That’s why I think that the boy is important as a foil to the father. But, these days, prophesies can be deemed naive, especially in the context of geopolitical reactionism and how people respond to facts.

The Road is too logical for our irrational present.


3 responses to “Secular Prophesy”

  1. gibb says:

    “the institutions that sustain moral and ethical codes are gone”

    Physically perhaps, but isn’t this carried in the man and the boy, just as is the fire?

  2. Steve says:

    That’s interesting. But to whom would they proselytize or share? Culture features must be shared, right? This we might call solipsism.

  3. gibb says:

    It’s very true that there appears to be nothing beyond the individuals, so yes, that would ring true. But aren’t we hoping that by bringing in the religious aspect, it’s just a case of the boy surviving long enough to find and mate with Eve?