Of particular interest in McCarthy's work is that the gross developmental flaw in his writing--the inability to willfully express anything much beyond toddler babble--is paired with a homoerotic misogyny that, as we studied in regards Melville, explains human cultures' developments of "patriarchy" in a more compelling way than can any critiques on "straight" women and men, whether satisfied housewives and mothers, or eager, unsolicitedly-ass-slapping cads.
How so? Let's take a look at just three of McCarthy's works to start: All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men. To start with, they all fail the Bechdel test...
...which is just fine. You can write stories about only men all you like. That's just a starter. We're taking note of it in McCarthy's work because of how it relates to two other factors: possessive homoeroticism, and violent male chauvinism. And these factors can be just fine, too, in a story or in a person. It is only when, combined with a fourth factor--the complete denial of agency or value to all of womankind--that McCarthy's brand of violent homoeroticism becomes so ideologically dangerous. Unlike plenty of narratives, where failure of the Bechdel test doesn't matter--anymore than it would in a movie where a male version of the Bechdel test was failed--the violent homoerotic fantasy-worlds of McCarthy, and men like him, herald a return to true classicism: a classicism of propertized women, scientific breeding, and deified homosexual sex.
The Brutalization of the Worthless Flesh: Premodern War and the Female
This is no casual matter; no wild theory of High Arka's that discusses an impossible sci-fi future that she probably only made up to get attention, anyway. In this case, we're dealing with not only a long-running historical phenomenon, but one that is actively beginning to recur. Violent gay patriarchs are already championing a return to their open domination of world affairs, as they enjoyed during the Athenian, Roman, and British Empires: consider gynophobic, homophiliac activist Jack Donovan's Androphilia, coupled with his suitably skeleton- and weapon-decorated The Way of Men. As we discussed in Homonormative, the modern, martial west had its development slowed for thousands of years by warring bands of queer men--primarily the adherents of the randy homo-warlords of paganism, the narcissistic, genocidal Jews, and the heroic male Apollo-as-Christ/Muhammad Roman Christians, then Muslims--who had little interest in wives and families, but great interest in spending their entire young lives (or just their entire lives) leaving girls behind, camping out with thousands of other young men, and sticking stiff metal implements into the bodies of other sweaty, torn-clothed young men. This by no means devalues the masculine honor of actually defending your actual home against an actual injustice invasion that is actually happening right now; it does, though, explain why so many empires spent millennia burning homes and fields, risking and sacrificing so many lives just to get away from all those annoying, worthless females back home--and the fields, barns, hearths, more-filling meals, more-frequent bathing, more-comfortable beds, and reduced risk of dying in seventy-two hours of screaming pain after your stomach wound gets infected.
Homophiliac historians have long tried to claim that incidences of wartime rape meant men had a heterosexual inclination to go to war, but they're perhaps forgetting that the ancient and pre-modern campaigns involved months or years of marching and camping alone with your nubile young buddies before you had an 8/10 chance of dying in order to get a 1/50 chance of raping a non-comely 40-year-old mother of seven, once your king and general and all the officers had already gotten tired of shooting in her. They're also forgetting how often the ancient and pre-modern generals had to beat and execute soldiers in order to force them to march and obey orders, for without that kind of discipline, armies would often "break apart." Now, you tell me--what were all those nubile young men, who had decided to leave behind better food, longer lifespans, and easier courtship, and march off with all the other boys, doing that was distracting them so much from the supposed reason they left home in the first place? Here's a hint: In the Navy, gnome sane?
Wartime rape in the ancient and pre-modern age must also be viewed in context: not as the one-on-one rape of the date rapist who got so horny he lost control, but more accurately, as the orgiastic gang "rape" occurring between the 3-8 women of a small peasant family, and the 100-soldier squad eating their food and killing their men (and boys) at the same time. Brutalization of a woman belonging to a defeated victim isn't the same kind of "rape" as the kind involving aroused vaginal penetration by a soldier's penis; ancient soldiers who murdered captive women weren't all, or most, "rapists," though they were surely evil murderers. Somehow, it reassures us to think that there was a heterosexual drive behind all those murders, as though, if the soldiers had gotten their sloppy-fourteenths before finally stabbing the woman to death, their behavior becomes explicable in a way it wouldn't have been otherwise. Not so: absent cultural conditioning, the idea of men leaving women and sex behind, and going off to get killed when it is not absolutely necessary for survival, but just about "honor" or "glory," is a patently homosexual one. Men who want to explore, or adventure, or look for someone to rape, can do so. However, when what men want is to band together, march together, train together, sleep together, and go way, way, way away from women together, with a bunch of other people just like them, they are looking for something quite different.
Claiming that the habit is about "honor" or "defense" is tantamount to a man pretending he was kept late at the office with too much paperwork ("Just looking out for the family, dear. I'll be home in a couple more hours, probably."). If he's banging his cute young female secretary in the corner office, then it's a deception borne of heterosexuality; if he's going to the bar to sit with the boys, then it's a deception borne of alcoholism, sloth, or possibly, hetero- or homosexuality. In the case of war in the ancient world, where you risk death, have to do a lot of work, and spend months before you get to the battle, after which you might get a chance to rape someone, the number of potential excuses dwindles.
Remember that, in the ancient and pre-modern world, the geopolitical awareness, and potential threat index, are much different. In some ways, it would be easier to lie a person off to war; in others, it would be much more difficult. More importantly, though, on the level of an entire society, the need to travel to another continent to secure oil reserves is not present. Any living society has been providing for its food and water needs already, and unless it's under attack, or has identified an immanent threat, it hurts the society's survival ability to go to war--fewer healthy young men are available to tend the fields, and it takes those who stay behind a lot of extra work to pay for the soldiers' great homoerotic game: five or more years of spear-pokes-man lasertag, at which point a monarch dressed in lush velvets may be "crowned" by his fawning men. Societies based around trade, or defending themselves from invasion, might legitimately go to war, and might spawn legitimate heroes who are actually fighting for life, love, sex, and people. The eight hundred years of Muslim men invading Europe, though, in order to demand a tribute of one thousand healthy white boys a year--that doesn't pass the test. Nor Charlesmagne Manson, for that matter.
What to do, what to do...taking a wife, praying at home, loving and sheltering her and my people, and helping the poor with all my heart? Taking thirty young girls as mistresses, having wild orgies, and getting oil massages until I die of old age? Or, gathering up all the boys, dressing them in pretty matching uniforms, giving them all long, stiff spears, and marching away from my icky wife for a few decades to capture Saxon boys and force them to bow down low before me? Ooh, I think we have our winner!
Crypto Misogyny: Cormac McCarthy's Homophiliac and Pedophiliac Hints
All the Pretty Horses ("ATPH"), The Road ("Road"), and No Country for Old Men ("NCOM") are unanimous in the storyline they prefer: men alone, and men together, manly men, spiced up by men taking young boys under their wings to guide and protect them. Set off against the near-total absence of women, that doesn't in and of itself make any of the works homophile works or homoerotic works, or even necessarily misogynistic ones. McCarthy's misogyny is of the ancient, Mellvillian kind discussed in Homonormative: no overt or active contempt for women, but merely a complete disregard for female existence. McCarthy's male characters don't dominate, oppress, or objectify women; rather, they ignore them. Women are so below their notice that when they are not stealing money, serving food, or reproducing, they merit less mention--drastically less mention, in fact--than plants by the roadside.
Road, one of McCarthy's later works, brought to fruition the trend of much of his earlier writing: no female characters appear in the entire narrative, and only at the very end does a nameless, detail-less woman pop up in order to provide a happy ending in the form of cooking and (through her daughter) reproductive potential. Road tells the story of a man and a boy who have survived a nuclear war. The boy's mother died in childbirth, leaving the main character with the life-affirming job of sheltering the nubile lad on a long series of journeys across the wasteland. It is hinted a time or two that the boy may be the man's son, but the prose involves no mention of this--the man is either too embarrassed, too sad, or too something-else to act fatherly toward the boy. The article/pronoun combination "the boy" is used extensively throughout, but not "the son." The possessive, "his boy," is often used, but again, not "his son." The boy's boy-ness--his virginal, pristine slenderness--is the focus of all indirect pronoun references, and many, many late-night contemplations by the protagonist, while "the man" and "the boy" wrap themselves up together in a tarp "for warmth" and shiver against each other until morning.
The man's obsession with the boy is likened, by casual readers, to a desire to protect the boy. And indeed, the man does protect the boy--with a fervent interest that never has hints of fatherliness, but only possession. The man assures the boy several times, not that he will prevent anyone from ever hurting the boy, but instead, that he will prevent anyone ever touching the boy. The distinction here is important, for despite the benefits that might accrue to the child's safety if he is in a society larger than just one aging man--such as someone being able to keep watch while the man and the boy sleep, or someone being able to safeguard the boy while the man goes off alone to do things--the man is violently committed to the idea that no one will touch his boy.
As the two (and only two, ever) characters travel across the landscape, huddling together for warmth, bathing each other, and comforting each other, the man encounters competitors: rough men who try to steal his boy. He kills one, and hides from others. The man also encounters another traveler who does not show any interest in the boy, and the boy desperately wants to join up with the new man. Unfortunately, the man kills the new man. The boy then cries for weeks at night, wondering why they had to do the killing. (There's a legitimate apocalypse-survivalist argument there, but the prose makes clear that the man's primary interest in killing the competitor, even if the boy wants to have more than one old man in his life, is to maintain his status as the boy's sole protector.)
Another time, the man encounters a band of true competitors. He tucks his boy away somewhere in the woods (all by himself, despite said boy's young age), and watches bitterly as another troupe of men pass by. These men have breeding livestock--voiceless, faceless women tied up for breeding use--as well as erotic livestock--comely young catamites, the latter word employed by McCarthy with instant understanding (e.g., as soon as the protagonist sees boys belonging to this company, he knows they are catamites, rather than children, members of the tribe, or captives of a non-sexual sort. The narrator's instant description of the purpose of a group of young boys is telling). The disinterest that all men in the world show toward female company is abundant throughout, though especially pronounced here, when McCarthy's vision of society is shown as one where boys are a sexual and emotional commodity, and women merely a reproductive one; Road's few, faceless women are mentioned in the same tone as canned food or bottled water. That is to say, as an occasional necessity for survival, though not a speaking one.
Every day in Road, the man thinks about what to eat, what to drink, and what to feed his boy. Only at the very end of the narrative, when he realizes he is going to die, does he commit the boy to the care of another man who has suddenly shown up in the last 5 pages: a man possessed of a wife and daughter. The wife is shown as ready to joyously serve food to the boy, while the daughter stands in waiting to later reproduce with the boy. And so the book-length relationship between man and boy comes to an end.
Survivalist homosexuality, e.g. zombie androphilia, certainly has its place. And yet, the utilitarian viewpoint that McCarthy and his characters take toward women in Road is a chilling shadow of the classical empires: of breeding sows and littering bitches, where women are voiceless wombs and waitresses, and boy-children are outlets for sodomy and receptacles for the emotional insecurity that comes with underdeveloped old age.
ATPH is different in its "males alone on a journey" aspect in that the age difference between man and boy is not so great. Two young men ride south and encounter a younger twink, whose slender limbs and slender knees and slender thighs they frequently notice, while camping out on their long journeys through isolated lands. The pale, slender-legged attraction of the boy-object foreshadows the later Road, as does the corresponding role of women: creatures who sometimes show up to deliver beans and tortillas. The central protagonist in ATPH was "forced" to go off on his manly journey with other men, and meet the young rogue with the slender legs, because his father's ranch was "stolen" by a female relative (the wicked woman inherited it instead of him), but he was able to find peace by riding through the wilderness and taming horses with the younger boys. The age-difference aspect returns in NCOM, where the narrative is all the reflections of an old man to a young man, lamenting how dangerous Mexican men are causing trouble for noble white ranchers. McCarthy's sporadic Spanglish, and the gritty horror with which he depicts the prison-state of Mexico--in contrast to the idyllic U.S., with its peaceful streets, absence of underground narcotics economies, and much lower prison population--are suitable for a New Englander who watches movies about the rugged west and wants to then appear an insider.
More importantly for our current purposes, though, is the role of women concomitant upon such a homoerotic worldview. In ATPH and NCOM, they serve food and rudely control property that should belong to men; in NCOM, they appear once or twice as damsels in distress--generally in the role of characters too timid or too stupid to provide accurate information to men trying to take care of business. In ATPH, a woman gets to have an actual conversation--or rather, deliver a brief lecture--about why her daughter must marry one man rather than another for purposes of the lineage and control of family property. The protagonist's limited affection for that viewpoint contrasts markedly with his anger at the woman to whom his father gave the family ranch at the beginning, though McCarthy never mentions it again, and doesn't seem to be aware that he had stumbled onto a point of potential metaphor or character development. Still, it's the only place in three books where a woman (an old mother looking out for her sons' influence) demonstrates something like agency. ATPH theoretically includes a love affair, but it's heavily overshadowed by those nice slender legs of the young boy the protagonist and his friend meet on their ride south: long before McCarthy remembers to include the love interest his editor wanted to put in the prose, the protagonist has to defend his twink from a group of Mexican ranchers, who notice how attractive the twink is, and ask if they can buy the boy from him. The protagonist and friend defend the young boy as "not for sale," and prevent him from being touched, foreshadowing the even more explicitly possessive attitude toward boyflesh expressed in Road.
The men all then spend dozens of pages eating, laughing, drinking, and back-slapping together, riding horses and telling jokes and respecting each other thoroughly. And then McCarthy remembers there was supposed to be a "love" angle to the story, and the main character notices a pair of dark eyes watching him. The prose quickly returns to another few dozen pages of manly cowboys bedding down, getting up, eating, riding horses, sweating, and cleaning together. The latter isn't a self-sufficient implication of homoeroticism, but it does at least evince a homophilia so overarching as to relegate women to a position existentially less important than other domestic animals.
The homoeroticism in NCOM is much less overt, and indeed, could be disregarded entirely were it a standalone work. With the enthusiasm of a kindergarten boy celebrating muscular bodybuilders, McCarthy talks about how cool, how smooth, and how fit his NCOM hit men are. His protagonist and antagonist males eat, sleep, dress, shave, and tend to their bodies on camera, in detail (as much detail as McCarthy is able to provide). By contrast, the few women who merit brief mention are drab, frumpy, and inactive--and very little time is devoted to hasty summaries of their boring existences as they wait for men to enter into or return to their lives. Again, not necessarily a homoerotic tendency, until paired with the intense and detailed interest shown to the most trivial of actions performed by men and boys.
In ATPH, a heterosexual love scene is actually included--isolated both within ATPH itself and among all three works discussed herein. The full and complete love scene is excerpted here to give you an idea of the meaningfulness of the relationship, and the sole sex act with the girl (whom the character is supposed to have known for months), to the narrative:
When they got to the room the maid was cleaning and she left and they closed the curtains and made love and slept in each other's arms. When they woke it was evening (sic).Those familiar with McCarthy may counter, "Well, he's always kind of low-functioning, and intermediate sentence structure is consistently beyond him, so the passage about the sex act doesn't stand out for being so simplistic." For contrast, then, here's a scene where the same character--the very one from the love scene immediately above--is helped onto a horse by a man whom he met a handful of pages ago:
He handed the waterbottles up to the captain and slung the bridle over his shoulder and reached a hand up and the captain looked down at him and then reached down with his good hand and he struggled up onto the horse behind the captain and reached around and took the reins and turned the horse back up the ridge again (sic, sic, sic...).As we can see, it is not merely the lurid staring at teenage boys' legs that earns more attention than the "heterosexual love affair" to which McCarthy makes sparse, unwilling reference but once in one of three books, but also the simple action of pulling someone into a saddle.
That is the true nature of actual misogynies, which western feminism has never understood: McCarthy, Melville, and the queer warrior cultures who have caused so much suffering on Terra are not characterized by catcalls, marriage, employment discrimination, romantic advances, or even rape. Rather, the homoerotic crypto misogyny of the warrior-queers manifests itself as a banal disregard for the existence of women and girls at all. Whether strong and independent, feisty and cleverly sexual, chaste and spiritual, it doesn't matter. Women are background props in this worldview. Indeed, women are so worthless that it's not even worth it to discriminate against them. Rather, just spend time with the boys. Eat, drink, sleep, fuck, play, live, love.
The patriarchy was constructed by a homosexual warrior culture that was more interested in male competition than in female anything. The endless boy-wars; the enslavements; the atrocious fashion; the aping of biological women; the separated social spheres; the ritualistic bondings to enforce reproduction: these are the societies built by men who have zero interest in womankind. The triumphs of daycares and cubicles, while the wars only grow more frequent and more hypocritical, are logical extensions of that same culture. So, too, the denial of not only agency, but even existence, to women, by the intellectual heirs of such men. The lengthy, mysterious history of male armies and brutal wartime rapes--dissonant, irreconcilable actions for males heterosexually interested in obtaining reliable sexual access to reciprocating female partners--is made explicable with evolution only when reproductively heterosexually inclined males have their relevance in such acts diminished, and sick, repressed no-girls-allowed marauders have their relevance vastly increased. Naturally, the scholarship of unigender military empires prefers to come up with reasons why it is heterosexual men who leave behind wives and girlfriends to join a boys club and risk their lives for a chance to brutalize and murder women far away; this ridiculous paradigm will need to be done away with before the classical gay war band, and its impact on history, can be more widely understood.
What is McCarthy?
Aside from misogyny and homophilia, what does McCarthy represent? A facet of the assault on art. Post-Cold-War evidence has revealed that Reuters, the NYT, and most American media corporations worked with the CIA/Mossad to fabricate the "postmodern" and "abstract" art movements. By spending decades extolling the virtues of smeared colors and welded industrial trash, elites not only lowered the world's expectations and dumbed down the deep-thinking capability of the average person, they also flooded the field in such a way as to abort the aspirations, work, and careers of countless real artists. The dark ages of the second half of the twentieth century were a time in which real illustrators could not be taken seriously, because all media attention was focused on the propagandistic saturation of art culture by consumer kitsch photography, "found art," buried umbrellas, and canned feces. This was a major victory for evil: over fifty years of human culture wasted; fifty years of paintings unpainted, songs unsung, books unwritten, and choreography left stepless.
Certain elements among the elites so approve of McCarthy's wretched attempts at storytelling that they have consistently attempted to push his tales upon the public. ATPH was made into a $57 million movie with big stars, and it lost nearly $40 million, with very few people caring to see it. In a capitalistic society, this should have proved the death knell for further movies; instead, certain producers were eager to spend millions making even more movies based on this $40 million loss (but there are no conspiracies). The whole industry got together to squeeze out a NCOM, relying on Tarantino (who presents as being of "Italian" descent) to churn out so much violence that they made some money. This emboldened elites into another less-violent flop: Road the movie, which, like ATPH the movie, earned heavy criticism from the same people who simultaneously kept pushing McCarthy's books. Road's box office returns exceeded its investment by a bare couple million, so even with foundation write-offs, the producers made less per-hour than prole physicians. Still, Minitru's obsession with making movies loosely-derived from this guy's ramblings worked to generate substantial awards from their awards branches, and an increase in publicity from their already-churning presses. The movies generate a surge in book sales that more than makes up, socioculturally-conditioning-wise, for whether or not any given movie had a "profit" or a "huge loss."
The great media mobilization to push McCarthy's work to the fore overshadows even the work done to make Harry Potter appear palatable. While Harry Potter was, at least, a simplistic, crappy, but essentially serviceable story for children under ten, elite media was successful in turning it into a phenomenon that further acclimated preteens, teens, and adults into an endless, uncritical childhood. Cormac McCarthy, for his part, is most likely a happy simpleton whose output is being heralded like that of any other usefully inelegant craftsman: by holding his abysmal efforts up as models, standards are not merely lowered, but left in such an apparent confusion that most people are stupefied. The masterful realist who works in oils, and her would-be fans, are, perhaps, confused, and certainly demeaned, when Andy Warhol's portrayals of Campbell's soup cans fetch high prices and trumpeted exhibitions.
So, too, do the elites' favorite new works--even without a Soviet Empire to appear more cultured than. Waving your brush angrily at the canvas, though, is meaningless if it's your entire work; if you don't pair it with at least a corner of amazing complexity and skill, it's obvious that you're a chimpanzee, not an illustrator. McCarthy's flaunting of grammar, recurrent misspellings, stunted wordplay, and omnipresent polysyndeton are cheered as genius by paid critics too low-functioning to recognize that a cake composed entirely of frosting is no longer a cake. Literary devices cease to be literary devices when they are, themselves, the entire work; rather, they're indicators of a performer, and an audience, too crippled to produce or evaluate anything better.
Be warned: McCarthy and his handlers, dimly cognizant of some of the critiques discussed here, are making adjustments to their methodology. Some of McCarthy's future works will be designed to pass the Bechdel Test, use more than 3-4 unusual words per book, and to increase differentiation in sentence structure. It may take a hell of a lot of editorial assistance, but it will be done--and then, all of a sudden, the critics who embarrassed themselves by calling his kindergarten work "elegiac" (look it up--they thought it was just a cool way to say "elegant," but they were wrong) will find themselves celebrating how skillfully he has transcended remedial prose and entered realms heretofore accessed by R.L. Stine and J.K. Rowling. In so many words, the critics will pick up the new book and read the new book and it will not use so many newwords and not use so many ands and it will not have so many runonsentences but still the critics will evaluate it as a skein* of elegiac words that is both great and grand and glorious and marvelous and indicative of his further maturation of a writer exactly because it does less of the original things for which they so enthusiastically praised him thereby revealing their own empty shells and their communications degrees at the sametime (*that's one of his favorite big-boy words). To close in the manner of a professional commentator: "As for me, I won't be falling for it when he writes a token book or two where apostrophes and women have a place in this universe."
How appropriate it really is that the Terror War has employed its own breed of simpleton artisans to champion their empty fiscal causes. When Newsweek calls ATPH "full of romance," it's nearly as surreal, monstrous, and perplexifying to the masses, as when Rothko's Green and Maroon is celebrated as "sensual and ironic." And so, people adjust their standards, confident that somehow, these voidful acts--these expressions of an absence of skill, care, talent, experience, or feeling--are, in fact, concealing great mysteries within their retarded banality. For, the illogic goes, that banality must be deceptive--there must be something here I'm missing, because if the news says there are weapons of mass destruction, then there simply must be. A bunch of powerful, wealthy, important people agree on something, so it has to be true.
Thus are we trained.