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Gershon Hepner

Contra Doomsayers Like Cormac McCarthy,  Plowsharing with Isaiah

Since all flesh in the past has slowly turned to dust,

and will no more endure when flesh to it has been transformed

apocalyptic words become the ones some people trust,

by sparks of wisdom in their blinding flashes misinfomed.

 

While gelid onset of glaucoma dims the world,

scotomatized, a lot of us have lost our central vision,

for what we see peripherally afraid that we’ll be hurled

to places that no prophets see in their derision.

 

Dangerous and wrong Cormac McCarthy called belief

that we can live in harmony, but I prefer Isaiah’s

plowsharing prophesies, by them provided some relief

from vivid future-evil visions of unsoothing naysayers.

 

In his NYT 6/23/23 obituary of Cormac McCarthy Dwight Garner writes:

Mr. McCarthy named the “good writers” as Melville, Dostoyevsky and Faulkner, a list that omitted writers who, as he put it, don’t “deal with issues of life and death.” About Proust and Henry James, he commented: “I don’t understand them. To me, that’s not literature. A lot of writers who are considered good I consider strange.”….

Mr. McCarthy’s fiction took a dark view of the human condition and was often macabre. He decorated his novels with scalpings, beheadings, arson, rape, incest, necrophilia and cannibalism. “There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed,” he told The New York Times magazine in 1992 in a rare interview. “I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea.”

Reviewing Cormac McCarthy’s novel “The Road” (“The Road Through Hell, Paved With Desperation,” NYT, September 25, 2006. Janet Maslin wrote:

In “The Road” …. Mr. McCarthy brings an almost biblical fury as he bears witness to sights man was never meant to see.  “There is no prophet in the earth’s long chronicle who is not honored here today,” the father says, trying to make his son understand why they inhabit a gray moonscape. “Whatever form you spoke of you were right.” Thus “The Road” keeps pace with the most enterprising doomsayers as death and desperation manifest themselves on every page. And in a perverse miracle it yields one last calamity when it seems that things cannot possibly get worse. Yet as the boy and man wander, encountering remnants of the lost world and providing the reader with more and more clues about what destroyed it, this narrative is also illuminated by extraordinary tenderness. “He knew only that the child was his warrant,” it says of the father and his mission. “He said: if he is not the word of God God never spoke.”  The father’s loving efforts to shepherd his son are made that much more wrenching by the unavailability of food, shelter, safety, companionship or hope in most places where they scavenge to subsist. Keeping memory alive is difficult, since the past grows increasingly remote. It is as if these lonely characters are experiencing “the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.” The past has become like a place inhabited by the newly blind, all of it slowly slipping away. As for looking toward the future, “there is no later,” the book says starkly. “This is later.” ….

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.
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