Thursday, April 3, 2008

Some Sketches and Thoughts on Cormac

Graduate School and Thesis
As the semester draws to a close and I wade through the final weeks of undergraduate assignments, I can barely contain my excitement about living in Richmond and being so near the coast. The fact that I have a teaching assistantship and three years of graduate school waiting for me in Virginia has taken the edge off of anything my professors could say.

With this newfound independence and sense of self, I've plunged ahead on my thesis, further developing themes and characters in the hopes that it'll be ready in May. I'm a little nervous because think a common misconception about fantasy is that it's full of cliches and flashy anime-style fight scenes.

I've actively worked to write past these tropes. My characters are neither good nor bad; they're just people. I find that a solidly good character is boring and a completely wicked character is predictable. Complicated characters, unsure of their own decisions and beliefs, are much more sympathetic and much more believable.

No Country
Last week, Bear and I went to Target and I picked up No Country for Old Men, the movie and the book. I've adored Cormac McCarthy for almost a year after I read The Road, so when I heard he wrote No Country for Old Men, I knew I had to have it. I finished the book in one night. I walked over the Bear's apartment and we watched the flick as soon as I was finished.
The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But I don't want to push my chips forward and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard.

(In the dream) it was cold and there was snow on the ground and (my father) rode past me...when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was going on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold.
The thing about both book and film is that the good guys do not win. Neither have resolution. Some of my friends didn't much like that, but the more I thought about it, the more I was disturbed. The hero's death is not shown on screen, but we all wanted to see him duke it out with the villains, taking a few poor souls with him.

What does that say about us as an audience? We revel in violence. We justify it to ourselves, saying that we want to see a meaningful death for our hero, that we want to see him take some of the bad guys with him. Honestly, I think that may be the entire disturbing point of No Country for Old Men.

So say we all.