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- There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.
- The New York Times, April 19, 1992, "Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction" by Richard B. Woodward
- I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.
- The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2009, "Hollywood's Favorite Cowboy" by John Jurgensen
- I don't think goodness is something that you learn. If you're left adrift in the world to learn goodness from it, you would be in trouble.
- The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2009, "Hollywood's Favorite Cowboy" by John Jurgensen
The Orchard Keeper (1965)
- Yes, he said. I busted him and he busted me. That's fair, ain't it?
The boy was still silent, calmly incredulous.
No, Sylder went on, I ain't forgettin about jail. You think because he arrested me that throws it off again I reckon? I don't. It's his job. It's what he gets paid for. To arrest people that break the law. And I didn't jest break the law, I made a livin at it.
Outer Dark (1968)
- The man sat watching the road, the weedstem twirling in his mouth and the threadthin shadow of it going long and short upon his face like a sundial's hand beneath a sun berserk.
- And as he lay there a far crack of lightning went bluely down the sky and bequeathed him in an embryonic bird's first fissured vision of the world and transpiring instant and outrageous from dark to dark a final view of the grotto and the shapeless white plasm struggling upon the rich and incunabular moss like a lank swamp hare.
- Don't take in no strangers while I'm gone.
She sighed deeply. They ain't a soul in this world but what is a stranger to me, she said.
- Yes mam. I'm sorry you've had such troubles.
Mm-hmm. Sorry. Don’t need sorry. Not in this house. Sorry laid the hearth here. Sorry ways and sorry people and heavensent grief and heartache to make you pine for your death.
- And she waited again at the front door with it open, poised between the maw of the dead and loveless house and the outer dark like a frail thief.
- What discordant vespers do the tinker's goods chime through the long twilight and over the brindled forest road, him stooped and hounded through the windy recrements of the day like those old exiles who divorced of corporeality and enjoined ingress of heaven or hell wander forever the middle warrens spoorless increate and anathema.
- Now the entire herd had begun to wheel wider and faster along the bluff and the outermost ranks swung centrifugally over the escarpment row on row wailing and squealing and above this the howls and curses of the drovers that now upreared in the moil of flesh they tended and swept with dust had begun to assume satanic looks with their staves and wild eyes as if they were no true swineheards but disciples of darkness got among these charges to herd them to their doom.
- Don't flang him off the bluff, boys. Tain't christian.
- I've seen the meanness of humans till I dont know why God aint put out the sun and gone away.
Child of God (1973)
- It's like a lot of things, said the smith. Do the least part of it wrong and ye'd just as well to do it all wrong. (p.71)
- Given charge Ballard would have made things more orderly in the woods and in men's souls. (p.128)
- In the spring or warmer weather when the snow thaws in the woods the tracks of winter reappear on slender pedestals and the snow reveals in palimpsest old buried wanderings, struggles, scenes of death. Tales of winter brought to light again like time turned back upon itself. (p.130)
- He could not swim, but how would you drown him? His wrath seemed to buoy him up. Some halt in the way of things seems to work here. See him. You could say that he is sustained by his fellow men, like you. Has peopled the shore with them calling to him. A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their blood in history and will have it. But they want this man's life. He has heard them in the night seeking him with lanterns and cries of execration. How then is he borne up? Or rather, why will not these waters take him? (p.147)
- Whatever voice spoke to him was no demon but some old shed self that came yet from time to time in the name of sanity, a hand to gentle him back from the rim of his disastrous wrath. (p.149)
- You think people was meaner then than they are now? the deputy said.
The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said, I don't. I think people are the same from the day God first made one. (p.158)
- He dreamt that night that he rode through the woods on a low ridge. Below him he could see deer in a meadow where the sun fell on the grass. The grass was still wet and the deer stood in it to their elbows. He could feel the spine of the mule rolling under him and he gripped the mule's barrel with his legs. Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed, he'd never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins slender like bones where the sun shone through them. He had resolved himself to ride on for he could not turn back and the world that day was as lovely as any day ever was and he was riding to his death. (p.162)
- In the long arcade of the bus station footfalls come back like laughter. He marches darkly toward his darkly marching shape in the glass of the depot door. His fetch come up from life's other side like an autoscopic hallucination, Suttree and Antisuttree, hand reaching to the hand.
- Chapter 1, page 28
- How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it.
- page 153
- Where hunters and woodcutters once slept in their boots by the dying light of their thousand fires and went on, old teutonic forebears with eyes incandesced by the visionary light of a massive rapacity, wave on wave of the violent and the insane, their brains stoked with spoorless analogues of all that was, lean aryans with their abrogate semitic chapbook reenacting the dramas and parables therein and mindless and pale with a longing that nothing save dark's total restitution could appease.
- page 4
- Put away these frozenjawed primates and their annals of ways beset and ultimate dark. What deity in the realms of dementia, what rabid god decocted out of the smoking lobes of hydrophobia could have devised a keeping place for souls so poor as in this flesh. This mawky wormbent tabernacle.
- page 130
- Pale manchild were there last agonies? Were you in terror, did you know? Could you feel the claw that claimed you? And who is this fool kneeling over your bones, choked with bitterness? And what could a child know of the darkness of God's plan? Or how flesh is so frail it is hardly more than a dream.
- page 154
- He reached down and tapped Suttree's knee with his forefinger. You, my good buddy, are a fourteen carat gold plated son of a bitch. That's what your problem is. And that being your problem, there's not a whole lot of people in sympathy with you. Or with your problem.
- I believe it's the end of the world.
Harrogate was looking at the pavement. He said it again.
Look at me, Suttree said.
He looked up. Sad pinched face, streaked with grime.
Are you serious?
Well what do you think about it?
It aint funny, said Harrogate.
You're funny, you squirrely son of a bitch. Do you think the world will end just because you're cold?
It aint just me. It's cold all over.
It's not cold by Rufus's stove. Now get your ass up there. I'll see you later.
- page 173
- The priest looked at him. Do I know you? he said.
Suttree placed one hand on the pew in front of him. An old woman was going along the altar rail with a dusting rag. He struggled to his feet. No, he said. You dont know me.
The priest stepped back, inspecting is clothes, his fishstained shoes.
I just fell asleep a minute. I was resting.
The priest gave a little smile, lightly touched with censure, remonstrance gentled. God's house is not exactly the place to take a nap, he said.
It's not God's house.
I beg your pardon?
It's not God's house.
Suttree waved his hand vaguely and stepped past the priest and went down the aisle. The priest watched him. He smiled sadly, but a smile for that.
- page 255
- And what happens then?
After you're dead.
Dont nothing happen. You're dead.
You told me once you believed in God.
The old man waved his hand. Maybe, he said. I got no reason to think he believes in me. Oh I'd like to see him for a minute if I could.
What would you say to him?
Well, I think I'd just tell him. I'd say: Wait a minute. Wait just one minute before you start in on me. Before you say anything, there's just one thing I'd like to know. And he'll say: what's that? And then I'm goin to ast him: What did you have me in that crapgame down there for anyway? I couldnt put any part of it together.
Suttree smiled. What do you think he'll say?
The ragpicker spat and wiped his mouth. I dont believe he can answer it. I dont believe there is an answer.
- page 258
- Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not. I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls in this world. Fly them.
Blood Meridian (1985)
- He can neither read nor write and in him already there broods a taste for mindless violence. All history present in that visage, the child the father of the man.
- Chapter I
- A man’s at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he dont want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there. It aint the heart of a creature that is bound in the way that God has set for it. You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.
- Chapter II
- There is no such joy in the tavern as upon the road thereto.
- Chapter III
- Do you know what happens with people who cannot govern themselves? That's right. Others come in to govern for them
- Chapter III
- The wrath of God lies sleeping. It was hid a million years before men were and only men have power to wake it. Hell ain't half full.
- Chapter IV
- The survivors lay quietly in that cratered void and watched the whitehot stars go rifling down the dark. Or slept with their alien hearts beating in the sand like pilgrims exhausted upon the face of the planet Anareta, clutched to a namelessness wheeling in the night.
- Chapter IV
- A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained weddingveil and some in headgear of cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or saber done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.
- Chapter IV
- When the lambs is lost in the mountain, he said. They is cry. Sometime come the mother. Sometime the wolf.
- Chapter V
- All lightly shimmering in the heat, these lifeforms, like wonders much reduced. Rough likenesses thrown up at hearsay after the things themselves had faded in men’s minds.
- Chapter VI
- The judge smiled. It is not necessary, he said, that the principals here be in possession of the facts concerning their case, for their acts will ultimately accommodate history with or without their understanding. But it is consistent with notions of right principle that these facts—to the extent that they can be readily made to do so—should find a repository in the witness of some third party. Sergeant Aguilar is just such a party and any slight to his office is but a secondary consideration when compared to divergences in that larger protocol enacted by the formal agenda of an absolute destiny. Words are things. The words he is in possession of he cannot be deprived of. Their authority transcends his ignorance of their meaning.
- Chapter VII
- God don't lie.... And these are his words.... He speaks in stones and trees, the bones of things.
- Chapter IX, Judge Holden
- For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies.
- Chapter IX
- And so these parties divided upon that midnight plain, each passing back the way the other had come, pursuing as all travelers must inversions without end upon other men’s journeys.
- Chapter IX
- For the Earth is a globe in a void the truth there's no up nor down to it.
- Chapter X
- Whether in my book or not, every man is tabernacled in every other and he in exchange and so on in an endless complexity of being and witness to the uttermost edge of the world.
- Chapter XI
- All progressions from a higher to a lower order are marked by ruins and mystery and a residue of nameless rage.
- Chapter XI, Judge Holden
- They rode on. They rode like men invested with a purpose whose origins were antecedent to them, like blood legatees of an order both imperative and remote. For although each man among them was discrete unto himself, conjoined they made a thing that had not been before and in that communal soul were wastes hardly reckonable more than those whited regions on old maps where monsters do live and where there is nothing other of the known world save conjectural winds.
- Chapter XII
- Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world's turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man's will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.
- A man’s at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with.
- ...words were said that could not be put right again...
- ...death seemed the most prevalent feature of the landscape.
- ...and he is as eitherhanded as a spider,...
- People see what they want to see.
- ...ingratitude is more common than you might think.
- How many is there, John?.
Did you learn to whisper in a sawmill?
- I know your kind, he said. What’s wrong with you is wrong all the way through you.
- ...he shook his head at the wonderful invention of folly in its guises and forms.
- The hour that followed was a long hour.
- ...hacking at the dying and decapitating those who knelt for mercy.
- You can’t be all Mexican. It’s like being all mongrel.
- This is a terrible place to die in.
Where’s a good one?
- I could have been somebody in this world wasn’t for him.
- What have you got that a man could drink with just a minimum risk of blindness and death.
- … and they watched the fire which does contain within it something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles. For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.
- Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.
- La gente dice que el coyote es un brujo. Muchas veces el brujo es un coyote.
- My book or some other book said the judge. What is to be deviates no jot from the book wherein it's writ. How could it? It would be a false book and a false book is no book at all.
- I can man anything that eats. Get me a piece of jerky. —John Joel Glanton.
- Jackson, pistols drawn, lurched into the street vowing to shoot the ass off Jesus Christ, the longlegged white son of a bitch.
- Men are made of the dust of the earth.
- What joins men together, he said, is not the sharing of bread but the sharing of enemies.
- What man would not be a dancer if he could, said the judge. It’s a great thing, the dance.
- Where is yesterday? … And where is the fiddler and where is the dance?
- And the answer, said the judge. If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he not have done so by now? Wolves cull themselves, man. What other creature could? And is the race of man not more predacious yet? The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die but in the affairs of men there is no waning and the noon of his expression signals the onset of night. His spirit is exhausted at the peak of its achievement. His meridian is at once his darkening and the evening of his day. He loves games? Let him play for stakes. This you see here, these ruins wondered at by tribes of savages, do you not think that this will be again? Aye. And again. With other people, with other sons.
- The judge looked about him. He was sat before the fire naked save for his breeches and his hands rested palm down upon his knees. His eyes were empty slots. None among the company harbored any notion as to what this attitude implied, yet so like an icon was he in his sitting that they grew cautious and spoke with circumspection among themselves as if they would not waken something that had better been left sleeping.
- The judge placed his hands on the ground. He looked at his inquisitor. This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.
- Toadvine sat with his boots crossed before the fire. No man can acquaint himself with everything on this earth, he said.
- Whatever exists, he [the judge] said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.
- Only nature can enslave man and only when the existence of each last entity is routed out and made to stand naked before him will he be properly suzerain of the earth. — The judge
- Because he is a special kind of keeper. A suzerain rules even where there are other rulers. His authority countermands local judgments. — The judge.
- The judge tilted his great head. The man who believes that the secrets of this world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.
- The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I'd have them all in zoos. — The judge.
- His among the clouded faces seemed unperturbed. He looked over the Americans, their gear. In truth, they did not look like men who might have whiskey they hadn't drunk.
- The arc of circling bodies is determined by the length of their tether, said the judge. Moons, coins, men. His hands moved as if he were pulling something from one fist in a series of elongations. Watch the coin, Davey, he said.
- It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.
- The judge smiled. Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But the trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.
- War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god. — The judge
- Notions of chance and fate are the preoccupations of men engaged in rash undertakings.
- Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn. A moral view can never be proven right or wrong by any ultimate test. A man falling dead in a duel is not thought thereby to be proven in error as to his views. His very involvement in such a trial gives evidence of a new and broader view. — The judge
- In that sleep and in sleep to follow the judge did visit. Who would come other? A great shambling mutant, silent and serene. Whatever his antecedents, he was something wholly other than their sum, nor was there system by which to divide him back into his origins for he would not go. Whoever would seek out his history through what unraveling of loins and ledgerbooks must stand at last darkened and dumb at the shore of a void without terminus or origin and whatever science he might bring to bear upon the dusty primal matter blowing down out of the millennia will discover no trace of any ultimate atavistic egg by which to reckon his commencing.
- Drink up, he said. Drink up. This night thy soul may be required of thee. — The judge
- At dusk they halted and built a fire and roasted the deer. The night was much enclosed about them and there were no stars. To the north they could see other fires that burned red and sullen along the invisible ridges. They ate and moved on, leaving the fire on the ground behind them, and as they rode up into the mountains this fire seemed to become altered of its location, now here, now there, drawing away, or shifting unaccountably along the flank of their movement. Like some ignis fatuus belated upon the road behind them which all could see and of which none spoke. For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies.
All the Pretty Horses (1992)
- ....A goodlookin horse is like a goodlookin woman, he said. They’re always more trouble than what they’re worth. What a man needs is just one that will get the job done.
- You think about all that stuff that can happen to you, he said. There aint no end to it.
- He said we were full of shit. But in a nice way.
- When they went down to the bunkhouse for dinner the vaqueros seemed to treat them with a certain deference but whether it was the deference accorded the accomplished or that accorded to mental defectives they were unsure.
- Word gets around when the circus comes to town, dont it?
- What good do you think it does to waller all over a horse thataway? said Rawlins.
I dont know, said John Grady. I aint a horse.
- The old man … said … the notion that men can be understood was probably an illusion.
- I dont see you holdin no aces.
- I never knowed there was such a place as this.
I guess there’s probably every kind of place you can think of.
- Anybody can be a pendejo, said John Grady. That just means asshole.
- You are the oveja negre, no? The black sheep?
- He lay in the dark thinking of all the things he did not know about his father and he realised that the father he knew was all the father he would ever know.
- It is not my experience that life’s difficulties make people more charitable.
- She came from the shower wrapped in a towel and she sat on the bed and took his hand and looked down at him. I cannot do what you ask, she said. I love you. But I cannot. He saw very clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led nowhere at all. He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave.
- He lay listening to the horse crop the grass at his stakerope and he listened to the wind in the emptiness and watched stars trace the arc of the hemisphere and die in the darkness at the edge of the world and as he lay there the agony in his heart was like a stake. He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had not known was that it was mindless and so had no way to know the limits of those souls and what he feared was that there might be no limits.
- He remembered Alejandra and the sadness he'd first seen in the slope of her shoulders which he'd presumed to understand and of which he knew nothing and he felt a loneliness he'd not known since he was a child and he felt wholly alien to the world although he loved it still. He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought the world's heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.
- He thought he'd be an object of some curiosity but the people he saw only nodded gravely to him and passed on. He carried the bucket back into the store and went down the street to where there was a small cafe and he entered and sat at one of the three small wooden tables. The floor of the cafe was packed mud newly swept and he was the only customer. He stood the rifle against the wall and ordered huevos revueltos and a cup of chocolate and he sat and waited for it to come and then he ate very slowly. The food was rich to his taste and the chocolate was made with canela and he drank it and ordered another and folded a tortilla and ate and watched the horses standing in the square across the street and watched the girls. They'd hung the gazebo with crepe and it looked like a festooned brush-pile. The proprietor showed him great courtesy and brought him fresh tortillas hot from the comal and told him that there was to be a wedding and that it would be a pity if it rained. He inquired where he might be from and showed surprise he'd come so far. He stood at the window of the empty cafe and watched the activities in the square and he said that it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they'd have no heart to start at all.
- Where is your country? he said.
I don't know, said John Grady. I don't know where it is. I don't know what happens to country.
- I cant back up and start over. But I dont see the point in slobberin over it. And I cant see where it would make me feel better to be able to point a finger at somebody else.
- There aint but one truth, said John Grady. The truth is what happened. It aint what come out of somebody's mouth.
- It is supposed to be true that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. I don’t believe knowing can save us. What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood, and this is a thing that even God—who knows all that can be known—seems powerless to change.
The Crossing (1994)
- If you could breathe a breath so strong you could blow out the wolf. Like you blow out the copo. Like you blow out the fire from the candela. The wolf is made the way the world is made. You cannot touch the world. You cannot hold it in your hand for it is made of breath only.
- The road has its own reasons and no two travelers will have the same understanding of those reasons. If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all.
- When he looked back at the primadonna she was watching them through the spyglasses. As if she might better assess them in that way where they set forth upon the shadowbanded road, the coming twilight. Inhabiting only that ocular ground in which the country appeared out of nothing and vanished again into nothing, tree and rock and the darkening mountains beyond, all of it contained and itself containing only what was needed and nothing more.
- We think we are the victims of time. In reality, the way of the world isn't fixed anywhere. How could that be possible? We are our own journey. And therefore we are time as well. We are the same. Fugitive. Inscrutable. Ruthless.
- Billy asked him if such men as had stole his eyes were only products of the war but the blind man said that since war itself was their very doing that could hardly be the case.
- Your brother is still young enough to believe that the past still exists, he said. That the injustices within it await his remedy.
- You do not know what things you set in motion, he said. No man can know. No prophet foresee. The consequences of an act are often quite different from what one would guess. You must be sure that the intention in your heart is large enough to contain all wrong turnings, all disappointments. Do you see? Not everything has such value.
- He said that while one would like to say that God will punish those who do such things and that people often speak in just this way it was his experience that God could not be spoken for and that men with wicked histories often enjoyed lives of comfort and that they died in peace and were buried with honor. He said that it was a mistake to expect too much of justice in this world. He said that the notion that evil is seldom rewarded was greatly overspoken for if there were no advantage to it then men would shun it and how could virtue then be attached to its repudiation?
- He said the wicked know that if the ill they do be of sufficient horror men will not speak against it. That men have just enough stomach for small evils and only these will they oppose. He said that true evil has power to sober the smalldoer against his own deeds and in the contemplation of that evil he may even find the path of righteousness which has been foreign to his feet and may have no power but to go upon it. Even this man may be appalled at what is revealed to him and seek some order to stand against it. Yet in all of this there are two things which perhaps he will not know. He will not know that while the order which the righteous seek is never righteousness itself but is only order, the disorder of evil is in fact the thing itself. Nor will he know that while the righteous are hampered at every turn by their ignorance of evil to the evil all is plain, light and dark alike. This man of which we speak will seek to impose order and lineage upon things which rightly have none. He will call upon the world itself to testify as to the truth of what are in fact but his desires. In his final incarnation he may seek to indemnify his words with blood for by now he will have discovered that words pale and lose their savor while pain is always new.
- The world has no name, he said. The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them so that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made those names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they cannot save us. That they cannot find for us the way again.
- He said that both views were one view and that while men may meet with death in strange and obscure places which they might well have avoided it was more correct to say that no matter how hidden or crooked the path to their destruction yet they would seek it out. He smiled. He spoke as one who seemed to understand that death was the condition of existence and life but an emanation thereof.
- If people knew the story of their lives how many would then elect to live them?
- In the night as he slept Boyd came to him and squatted by the deep embers of the fire as he'd done times by the hundreds and smiled his soft smile that was not quite cynical and he took off his hat and held it before him and looked down into it. In the dream he knew that Boyd was dead and that the subject of his being so must be approached with a certain caution for that which was circumspect in life must be doubly so in death and he'd no way to know what word or gesture might subtract him back again into that nothingness out of which he'd come. When finally he did ask him what it was like to be dead Boyd only smiled and looked away and would not answer. They spoke of other things and he tried not to wake from the dream but the ghost dimmed and faded and he woke and lay looking up at the stars through the bramblework of the treelimbs and he tried to think of what that place could be where Boyd was but Boyd was dead and wasted in his bones wrapped in the soogan upriver in the trees and he turned his face to the ground and wept.
Cities of the Plain (1998)
- The martyr who longs for the flames can be no right candidate for them.
- The man smiled at him a sly smile. As if they knew a secret between them, these two. Something of age and youth and their claims and the justice of those claims. And of their claims upon them. The world past, the world to come. Their common transciencies. Above all a knowing deep in the bone that beauty and loss are one.
- Our waking life's desire to shape the world to our convenience invites all manner of paradox and difficulty.
No Country for Old Men (2005)
- Nothin wounded goes uphill, he said. It just dont happen.
- Anything can be an instrument, Chigurh said. Small things. Things you wouldnt even notice. They pass from hand to hand. People dont pay attention. And then one day there's an accounting. And after that nothing is the same. Well, you say. It's just a coin. For instance. Nothing special there. What could that be an instrument of? You see the problem. To separate the act from the thing. As if the parts of some moment in history might be interchangeable with the parts of some other moment. How could that be? Well, it's just a coin. Yes. That's true. Is it?
- The stories gets passed on and the truth gets passed over. As the sayin goes. Which I reckon some would take as meanin that the truth cant compete. But I dont believe that. I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. You cant corrupt it because that's what it is. It's the thing you're talkin about. I've heard it compared to the rock — maybe in the bible—and I wouldnt disagree with that. But it'll be here even when the rock is gone. I'm sure they's people would disagree with that. Quite a few, in fact. But I never could find out what any of them did believe.
- People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don't deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things. I don't recall that I ever give the good Lord all that much cause to smile on me. But he did.
- It had already occurred to him that he would probably never be safe again in his life and he wondered if that was something that you got used to. And if you did?
- I’ll tell you somethin, Sheriff. Nineteen is old enough to know that if you have got somethin that means the world to you it’s all that more likely it’ll get took away. Sixteen was, for that matter. I think about that
- It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.
- Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.
- It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody's. You dont start over. That's what it's about. Every step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it.
- You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's layin there?
- Well, I guess in all honesty I would have to say that I never knew nor did I ever hear of anybody that money didnt change.
- If it ain't a mess, it'll do till the mess gets here.
- Getting hurt changed me, he said. Changed my perspective. I've moved on, in a way. Some things have fallen into place that were not there before. I thought they were, but they werent. The best way I can put it is that I've sort of caught up with myself. That's not a bad thing. It was overdue.
- Somewhere in the world is the most invincible man. Just as somewhere is the most vulnerable.
- My daddy always told me to just do the best you knew how and tell the truth. He said there was nothin to set a man's mind at ease like wakin up in the morning and not havin to decide who you were.
- I think the truth is always simple. It has pretty much got to be. It needs to be simple enough for a child to understand. Otherwise it'd be too late. By the time you figured it out it would be too late.
- If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
- He (Wells) closed his eyes and he turned his head and he raised one hand to fend away what could not be fended away. Chigurh shot him in the face. Everything that Wells had ever known or thought or loved drained slowly down the wall behind him. His mother's face, his First Communion, women he had known. The faces of men as they died on their knees before him. The body of a child dead in a roadside ravine in another country.
- [H]e knew that fear of an enemy can often blind men to other hazards, not least the shape which they themselves make in the world.
- The prospect of outsized profits leads people to exaggerate their own capabilities. In their minds. They pretend to themselves that they are in control of events where perhaps they are not. And it is always one's stance upon uncertain ground that invites the attentions of one's enemies. Or discourages it.
- How to prevail over that which you refuse to acknowledge the existence of.
- When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end. You can say that things could have turned out differently. That they could have been some other way. But what does that mean? They are not some other way. They are this way. You're asking that I second say the world.
- I aint got all that many regrets. I could imagine lots of things that you might think would make a man happier. I think by the time you're grown you're as happy as you're goin to be. You'll have good times and bad times, but in the end you'll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I've knowed people that just never did get the hang of it.
- All the time you spend tryin to get back what's been took from you there's more goin out the door. After a while you just try and get a tourniquet on it.
- You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.
- I didnt know you could steal your own life. And I didnt know that it would bring you no more benefit than about anything else you might steal.
- It's a life's work to see yourself for what you really are and even then you might be wrong.
- I don't aim to quit while I'm ahead. I just aim to quit.
- [W]hen you encounter certain things in the world, the evidence for certain things, you realize that you have come upon somethin that you may very well not be equal to and I think that this is one of them things. When you've said that it's real and not just in your head I'm not all that sure what it is you have said.
- There is no description of a fool, he said, that you fail to satisfy.
The Sunset Limited (2006)
- Black: Belief aint like unbelief. If you a believer then you got to come finally to a well of belief itself and then you dont have to look no further. There aint no further. But the unbeliever has got a problem. He has set out to unravel the world, but everthing he can point to that aint true leaves two new things layin there. If God walked the earth when he got done makin it then when you get up in the mornin' you get to put your feet on a real floor and you dont have to worry about where it come from. But if he didnt then you got to come up with a whole other description of what you even mean by real. And you got to judge everything by that same light. If light is is. Includin yourself. One question fits all.
- White: I long for Darkness. I pray for death, real death. And if I thought that in death I would meet the people I knew in life, I don't know what I would do. That would be the ultimate horror, the ultimate nightmare. If I thought I was gonna meet my mother again an' start all of that over, only this time without the prospect of death to look forward to... that would be the final nightmare. Goddamn Kafka on wheels.
- White: You give up the world line by line. Stoically. And then one day you realize that your courage is farcical. It doesnt mean anything. You've become an accomplice in your own annihilation and there is nothing you can do about it. Everything you do closes a door somewhere ahead of you. And finally there is only one door left.