Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

The Road

Last night I went to see The Road, starring Viggo Mortenson, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. It is directed by John Hillcoat the director of The Proposition, which is an excellent bleak Australian Western I only saw for the first time a couple of days ago (or I would have put it in my 'best of the decade' lists I think).

I think the film adaption of MCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men added something new to the book. This film is I think faithful to the book it is based on, possibly softening it very slightly. This is only a guess (from reading reviews), because I am wary to even read it. McCarthy has the power to make me feel so miserable - I can still remember reading Blood Meridian, as if remembering an abdominal operation or something.

You probably know the general outline of the story - humanity (in this it is implied through a war and pollution together) has destroyed the biosphere, about ten years previously. Most people have died or committed suicide. A few survivors are living on jealously guarded stores of food and cannibalism. A father takes his young son - born after the disaster - on a vague pilgrimage 'south' on the road. Like at the end of No Country, the father and son are portrayed as carrying some protected flame onwards into darkness. The effort is futile but noble.

McCarthy is I think one of the few really really talented conservative writers. I admire him, while not quite agreeing with him. I think he's important to read. His view of human nature is bleak, and his view of human society and lineage is a male one. Human nature and culture is passed on from father to son, and the mother is a beloved but weak link in that chain. Like the Ancient Greeks, and Christians, the Logos is male, and animates dead matter. Life is brutal, men fight to survive, and the female principle which shrinks from that brutality is an addendum, albeit to be pitied and cherished. Love is the love between father and son: the mother is not equal to that task.

I read a book-length review of the Alien films from a conservative point of view, and the argument was that the female struggles against the male principle of vitality. The process of life is seen as one which the male carries forward, which uses and breaks the flesh, and to rebel against it (as women will) is to rebel against the universe itself, a futile gesture. Obviously from my point of view, the work of life is something that women are central to rather than peripheral. Also, I think humans will destroy themselves rather than the earth itself.

I think the bleakness of McCarthy, and of modern mainstream male writers in general, comes from them excluding women, trying to control and suppress all living things, driving everything but themselves to the fringes of existence, and then finding the world they have created empty and brutal.
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