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TOM PETTY AND THE PETTINESS OF HUMAN LIFE

February 8, 2013

From: hsethknight@hotmail.com
To: sup@sup.es; sugerencias@guardiacivil.org; ejercitorevista@et.mde.es; info@consejo-estado.es
Subject: FW: THE CULTURE COORDINATES OF THE APOCALYPSE AND THE PETTINESS OF HUMAN LIFE
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:48:37 +0000

From: hsethknight@hotmail.com
To: william_n_kapner@mcpsmd.org; joshua_starr@mcpsmd.org
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Subject: THE CULTURE COORDINATES OF THE APOCALYPSE AND THE PETTINESS OF HUMAN LIFE
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:30:30 +0000

THE BOOK OF ELI (2010)

The question put to my son’s English class was why the character of the mother in Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel, The Road, took her own life in the early part of the book.

But the novel, almost in a structural sense, too, is a constant contemplation or meditation on this very inquiry from each and everyone of us as individuals.

And I need to address the fact that the inclusion of this specific book as 11th grade high school English curriculum is to, to say the least, way over my son’s head in an intellectual sense, for as a reader you are thrown head long by McCarthy into an anthropological and psychological time warp, back to the savagery as-life-mode of pre-agricultural man.

And the novel’s central image is that of the headless torso of a human baby on a spit, over a fire.

For this novel is especially disturbing –even for highly educated adults-if you have no basic understanding of anthropological man and the relationship between the individual and society or collective human groups.

And the novel is a true gem in this regards for it makes explicit a very academic understanding of the social nature of man and the historical cultural need to repress the savagery at man’s core and his instinctive simian underlying psychology; but the novel does it through the viceral-intellectual experience of literature, and not as an exposé, treatise or essay.

But this is not how the novel is being used in my son’s English class at Walt Whitman High School, from what I understand from him.

And the father-son relationship of Abraham and Issac, and man as child with regards to the father-figure human projection of God himself, is not understood even now for what it has always been, at the core of human culture itself: a hyped and overplayed human will to dimensionality as flight from the flatness of man’s natural animal condition as understood through his rationality and powers of reasoning.

And this awareness makes the inane insipidness and boredom of the human condition our greatness foe; and it is the visceral understanding from man’s rational perspective of the fact that life makes no sense that drove anthropological man to the heights of the “spiritual” as away of fabricating and imposing a sense of weight on something that in its absurdity, has none at all.

And the center of this fabricated facade of seriousness, and perceived importance has always been occupied by the child, the son or daughter-but most importantly, the male child.

And it is in he, in the guise of Issac, Jesus or the infantile avatar of any divinity within all human culture, where we take inspiration in the lofty heights of a farce for what is then the same subjugation we impose on our own children in the flatness of our own physical existence.

And the central, all enveloping theme of The Road, is now understood as the supreme fatal flaw of social man: the cannibalizing of other human beings, at every possible level for our own biological, material or existential comfort.

And my son needs to understand this, and not just be dumbfoundedly overwhelmed by its imagery (of a most savage nature in McCarthy’s novel).

And the reason the mother figure in The Road takes her own life, is the same reason the writer incorporates a prologued happy ending of sorts after the death through lung infection of the father; and is really the child who perishes at that point, for all hope and sense of purpose is effectively lost.

And with it so is life as symbolized in fact by the abandoned child as Father fades into nothingness.

But the son’s simultaneous adoption by another Father-in this case armed to the hilt with a shotgun and shells-who possess also a family, with a son and daughter and, -of course-a dog*, is just a Disney World mirage of sorts as morphine injected into you by the author so you don’t throw yourself out the window, so to speak, as the story closes.

So you can, also, hide behind the concept of literature and call what has just befallen you through its reading, “literary fiction”.

But it is not fiction at all, being the central issue at the heart of culture since the beginning of human culture itself as we know it.

And it is in fact today, right now, a delimitation in itself of the human condition currently:

_____
SK

(*I am, in my analysis of McCarthy’s novel, confusing both the original written story and the film version by the same title)

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