Good morning, friends. Our first posted article from the Winter 2008 issue comes from Christopher Badeaux. Enjoy!
When I was a kid, I went creekwalking across what is now the President George [H.W.] Bush Expressway, and was then a mix of woods, streams, sewer runoffs, and railroad lines. Because I was a teenage boy, I knew I was actually invulnerable to mere physical harm, and so decided to cross one particular chasm by marching across a fallen tree.
Above, a beautiful, cold, North Texas February sky. Below, cascading water. Between, one fourteen year-old idiot using a bamboo staff to balance himself like some brain-damaged trapeze artist.
It was the water that did me in. A thing boys know that men forget is that streams, viewed in bright morning sunlight from just the right angle, look crystalline and explosive at the same time. One instant, it’s as if you’re staring at a ribbon of diamond; the next, it’s an explosion of light and fractal wonder. It’s an incredible thing to behold from a safe vantage, and a stupid thing to behold when balanced across a thin tree with just a fresh-cut staff of bamboo from twenty feet above.
As I sat, freezing, wet, and knowing that my rear would soon be hurting as much as my lungs, I realized two important things: First, that it is stupid to walk across a fallen tree supported only by one’s own questionable balance and a bamboo staff when there is near-freezing water twenty feet beneath you; and, second, that disorder can be beautiful, but it can hurt, too.
As you get older, you come to realize that the beauty of disorder is an illusion. Disorder is a bad thing, spreading pain and misery in concentric ripples from the source of the disorder. But you never forget how breathtaking disorder can be.
With all of that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that Cormac McCarthy’s novels increasingly reflect a deeply disordered universe.
That requires some elaboration, and a brief excursion into natural law. A full exposition on that topic is beyond the scope of this essay, and frankly beyond my abilities, but in brief: The Lord made the Universe according to a set of hidden but largely discernable rules, and those rules produce specific, predictable outcomes once the rules and variables are known. Furthermore, all things are made ordered—oriented, if you prefer—to not only the Lord, but also to decent and right outcomes.
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