I don’t think anyone paints evil like Cormac McCarthy. Part of what I mean is that I don’t know of another author who has looked that deeply and clearly into what evil is, and what it does, and how it works itself out in our time.
Writing is often an act of stepping outside of one’s self. The skin we inhabit is not our own; we live in many rooms. The best writers, the ones that show us something familiar in a new way, that transport us from ourselves to something else, that cause us to experience sensation with linguistic sleight of hand, are also the most empathetic.
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
~ William Wordsworth
Is it important to have a good imagination? Or is it, as at first glance we might be inclined to think, perhaps a little trifling, maybe something important for children but not very necessary for adults? I guess that depends on what the imagination is. I fairly recently came across a very interesting definition of the imagination while listening to an interview of Stephen Prickett discussing George MacDonald, an influential Scottish writer of fantasy (and other genres) in the Victorian period, who had a particularly profound influence on C. S. Lewis. Lewis, in fact, described his initial encounter with MacDonald’s imaginative work as a conversion or baptism of his own imagination; “It did nothing to my intellect nor (at that time) to my conscience. Their turn came far later… The quality which had enchanted me in his imaginative works turned out to be the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic reality in which we all live”
She is an old woman. A double amputee with age spots and flaking skin. Would she attract your attention by that description? Would you seek her out? Probably not, yet millions travel to the Venus de Milo every year, sometimes crossing the world to view her at the Louvre. It’s interesting that though she is broken we consider her a masterpiece because of her beauty and antiquity. But also because her brokenness lends an air of mystery that leads us to want to engage with her. So we stand in front of her and silently wonder.