Notes: Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”


“Lode or Matrix”

“a bench of land”

“creek looked like a path of basalt”

“human bodies sprawled in every attitude”


PIEDMONT: the plateau between the coastal plain/…/An area of land formed or lying at the foot of a mountain or mountain range.

“trees burning like heathen candles”

MACADAM: broken stone in pavement

ASPHALT MASTIC: A mixture of asphalt with sand, asbestos, crushed rock, or similar material; used like cement.

SKEIN: loose coils, as in “skeins of ash and slurry”

…migratory birds: “Their half muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl.”

“All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain.”

MUCONIUM: thick, dark green mucoid material that is the first feces of a newborn child

RACHITIC: rickety; affected with, suffering from, or characteristic of rickets

“he could see no worse with his eyes shut”

SIWASH: properly a First Nations man, but sometimes used for women as well. Nowadays considered extremely derogatory but still in use…

“a rim of shelving ice”

PALISADE: trees lined up like fence posts

“where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them”

CHEROOT: a cigar with both ends cut flat

“The reptilian calculations in those cold and shifting eyes. The gray and rotting teeth. Claggy with human flesh. Who has made of the world a lie every word.”

QUOITS: a game in which iron rings (or open iron rings) are thrown at a stake in the ground in hope of encircling it.

“The man thought he seemed some sad and solitary changeling child announcing the arrival of a traveling spectacle in shire and village who does not know that behind him the players have all been carried off by wolves.”

SEDGE: grasslike or rushlike plant growing in wet places having solid stems, narrow grasslike leaves and spikelets of inconspicuous flowers

KERF: width of a saw cut

“What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.”

GELID: arctic; extremely cold

KRUGERRAND: South African gold coin, first minted in 1967 in order to help market South African gold.

“He thought perhaps they’d come to warn him. Of what? That he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was ashes in his own.”

“Sketched upon the pall of soot downstream the outline of a burnt city like a black paper scrim.”

SHILL: a decoy

“He crouched and watched the day accrue.”


CHARY: cagey: characterized by great caution and wariness

“The dark serpentine of a dead vine running down it like the track of some enterprise upon a graph.”

“He was gone longer than he’d meant to be and he hurried his steps the best he could, the water swinging and gurgling in the shrunken swag of his gut.”

PALIMPSEST: a manuscript (usually written on papyrus or parchment) on which more than one text has been written with the earlier writing completely erased and still visible.

CHERT: variety of silica containing microcrystalline quartz

“Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”

“They plodded on, thin and filthy as street addicts. Cowled in their blankets against the cold and their breath smoking, shuffling through the black and silky drifts. They were crossing the broad coastal plain where the secular winds drove them in howling clouds of ash to find shelter where they could. Houses or barns or under the bank of a roadside ditch with the blankets pulled over their heads and the noon sky black as the cellars of hell. He held the boy against him, cold to the bone. Don’t lose heart, he said. We’ll be all right.”

MIDDEN: dung heap

KUDZU: fast-growing vine from Eastern Asia having tuberous starchy roots and hairy trifoliate leaves and racemes of purple flowers…

CAIRN: a mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path.

PATTERAN: any of several coded signs left along a road on a non-Roma house by one Rom comrade to another. The most common ones consist of crossed sprigs (usually of different trees or shrubs) indicating, for example, a direction traveled.

JACKSTRAW: a thin strip of wood

“A man sat on a porch in his coveralls dead for years.”


LOGGIA: a roofed arcade or gallery with open sides stretching along the front or side of a building; often at an upper level.

KNURLED: full of knots; gnarled; milled, as the head of a screw, or the edge of a coin.

“The pistol lying to hand like another dining implement.”

SEA OATS: a type of grass that grows along the East Coast of the US, Mexico, and islands in the Caribbean…

ISOCLINE: a series of lines with the same slope

STANCHION: any vertical post or rod used as support


MAE WEST: an inflatable life jacket

CLERESTORY: part of an interior wall rising above the adjacent roof with windows admitting light.

BAIZE: a bright green fabric napped to resemble felt; used to cover gaming tables.

GIMBALED: supported on gimbals and remaining steady or level when the base tips.

BINDLE: the bag, sack, or carrying device stereotypically used by American hobos…

TRAVOIS: made of two long poles, uneven in length, attached with leather straps to either a horse or a dog.


Twitter Rant

Tweet THISTo be clear – social media is NOT (and cannot ever be) a replacement for actual creativity or generative impetus. You might be thinking things like, “shut up”, “blah blah blah”, or “laundry time again”, but I scent fever in the Twitter ranks, nervousness, and conversely, the kind of calm a wizened mariner might feel at the helm of a proven schooner, staring down an unruly sea from beneath wire-brush eyebrows. Yes, the social media elite have confidence and piles, in spades. Wait, wait, wait…why all the hostility? I’m not feeling hostile, just observant. I can’t help but associate two things along a strange line: the effect Twitter’s had on the web-faring world seems uncannily like the spirit behind Atari’s distribution boom in 1982. Perhaps I’m not elucidating my idea…what I mean to say is that I’ve spoken to people (friends, colleagues, bunkmates) who feel that distinct feeling the video game market felt back then: glutted. It’s too much. Is it? Fuck if I know. I do understand the routine, though:

  • 7:00:00 a.m. – Log on to Twitter and RSS feeder simultaneously
  • 7:00:01 – 7:00:30 – Breeze through the last hour’s tweets
  • 7:00:30 – 7:01:00 – Find a single half-interesting link in a series of 50
  • 7:01:01 – 7:01:02 – Fail to wonder why you start your day this way
  • 7:01:03 – 7:01:10 – Reaffirm that your tweets, while subject to the perceptions of others, are a viable and breathtaking new way to express yourself…or at least it’s a new way to express yourself.
  • 7:01:11 – 7:02:00 – Scroll through RSS entries, scanning for items which will maximize your exaltation among your internet friends
  • 7:02:01 – 7:02:05 – Realize failure. Condemn yourself for being only one person with narrow views and interests. Open
  • 7:02:06 – 7:08:00 – wear out the “Stumble” button slogging through quirky sites and photos of cats you’ve seen a thousand times (SO “an hour ago”), at least. (/pant)(/sigh) Begin to sweat.
  • 7:08:01 – 7:30:00 – Get new high score on Flash games site you “found” while your bagel hardens and your coffee cools. Note that you’ve got fifteen minutes left to tweet something. You inhale your crust-bagel, rasping the roof of your mouth raw. You mumble a non-response to your wife, who’s topless and wishing you good morning by hugging your head from behind with no hands. A man, somewhere in the pit of impotence hell, curses your name. Your penis, although capable, does not so much as flutter in your khakis. You don’t think about that, though, because during:
  • 7:30:01 – 7:30:15 – You discover a killer graph (interactive!) which reassures its view that global interest in Twitter is growing. You copy the address.
  • 7:30:16 – 7:30:17 – You fail to wonder things like, how does sharing this link validate me. You instead think, my friends will KNOW my mastery of teh interwebz by the boons I bestow unto them, which passed through the lens of reality says, I care more about pandering to the interests of my tenuously clinging social circle than the content of this site/article/flash gamez.
  • 7:30:18 – 7:31:00 – You refresh the page several times in order to witness the the mark you’ve made upon humanity, much the way you appraised the length and girth of your morning stool. “Ahh,” you say.
  • 7:31:01 – 7:35:00 – You sit back, confident that you’ve augmented an integral portion of your web presence, which, you marvel, is a web unto itself. You open Facebook, Digg (because breaking up is hard to do), Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIN, three webmails, your personal site, and YouTube on separate tabe. You use Bing through Google Chrome, and feel good about it.
  • 7:35:01 – 7:44:59 – You update your FB status from Twitter and log on to Digg through FB, reposting a Failblog post you found via Stumbleupon, ignoring that it’s been posted ten times in the last ten minutes. You save it on you clipboard and post it on your mom’s wall, your significant other’s wall, and your own wall. You proceed to comment on your own post: LOL, as if the world needs a prompt. You then post something from the “What’s Hot” section of YouTube to Twitter, which replaces the status update you just posted. You choose a super-sweet photo from the “Last 7 Days” offering on Flickr and tweet the fuck out of it, which updates your FB status a third time. You refresh all of your tabs a final time, and revel in yourself. Really, you feel emptier than when you started and at this point fail to wonder when the cup will ever be full. You are determined to find out.
  • 7:45:00 – You go to work, and your wife calls the cable guy.