Yesterday, thanks to Oprah, the world discovered that Cormac McCarthy is a real human being and not the literal poetic god that we assumed he was.  Or at least he appears in the form of a man when doing a television interview.  If you haven’t seen the interview with one of America’s greatest living authors, you can catch it on Oprah’s website.  I promise that this will be the only time I ever recommend viewing anything on  I swear.

A few interesting tid-bits came up during the interview: why he doesn’t use a lot of punctuation, why women play such a small role in his novels, and how he conceived of the idea for The Road.  One of the more interesting parts of the interview, to me, was when he explained his thoughts on the law of probability.  McCarthy understands that a lot of stuff that happens in this world is random.  He calls it luck.  Some people are lucky and others are not.  He believes he’s one of the lucky ones.  Much of our time is spent trying to explain away this luck by creating narratives about why people get what they deserve, etc. but in the long run, so much of what happens to us is just deviation from the mean.

McCarthy’s discussion of luck clearly went over the head of Oprah.  I was enthralled by his comments and had tons of follow-up questions to ask.  She just nodded blankly.  So sad.  My sense is that McCarthy’s take on the randomness of life has probably been enhanced by his frequent interaction with scientists.  He has an office at the Santa Fe Institute and regularly reads the papers of other fellows at the institute.  He said in the interview that he actually prefers socializing with scientists over novelists.  Whatever the origin, McCarthy clearly sees the world through a probabilistic lens.  While much of what we see and experience follows a regular pattern, every once in a while life takes a dangerous turn.  See more discussion in this during on our upcoming seminar on Cerulo’s Never Saw it Coming.

Written by brayden king

June 6, 2007 at 3:41 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I just started reading The Road. Huh, light summertime reading.



    June 6, 2007 at 8:30 pm

  2. Push through to the end Alan. There’s a rewarding payoff.



    June 6, 2007 at 9:04 pm

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