The Passenger - by Cormac McCarthy

A rattle of chains in the far corner of the room where a pair of leashed animals of uncertain taxon rose and circled and lay down again. A light rustling, a cough. As in a theatre when the houselights dim.

In the two hours they were there she never once looked at another table and he wondered where she’d learned that. Or the thousand other things she knew.

You deny our brotherhood. Insisting as you do in your sly way that our genealogies and our socioeconomic standings have set us apart at birth in a manner not to be contravened. But I will tell you Squire that having read even a few dozen books in common is a force more binding than blood.

Men passed up and back outside the door going to and from the mess. The voices were like a balm to him. To be a part of some enterprise. A community of men. A thing all but unknown to him for the greater part of his life.

Are you sure you havent gone completely dipshit out here?
I aint sure of anything. Are you?
Probably not.
You want to know when was the last time I saw anybody. I could ask you when was the last time you didnt see anybody. When was the last time you just sat by yourself. Watched it get dark. Watched it get light. Thought about your life. Where you’d been and where you were goin. Was there a reason for any of it. Is there? I think that if there was a reason then that would just be one more thing to inquire about. My notion is you probably make up reasons after you’ve decided what it is you’re goin to do. Or not do.

For all his dedication there were times he thought the fine sweet edge of his grief was thinning. Each memory but a memory of the one before until… What? Host and sorrow to waste as one without distinction until the wretched coagulant is shoveled into the ground at last and the rain primes the stones for fresh tragedies.

When smart people do dumb things it’s usually due to one of two things. The two things are greed and fear. They want something they’re not supposed to have or they’ve done something they werent supposed to do. In either case they’ve usually fastened on to a set of beliefs that are supportive of their state of mind but at odds with reality. It has become more important to them to believe than to know.

It’s not just that I dont have to write things down. There’s more to it than that. What you write down becomes fixed. It takes on the constraints of any tangible entity. It collapses into a reality estranged from the realm of its creation. It’s a marker. A roadsign. You have stopped to get your bearings, but at a price. You’ll never know where it might have gone if you’d left it alone to go there. In any conjecture you’re always looking for weaknesses. But sometimes you have the sense that you should hold off. Be patient. Have a little faith. You really want to see what the conjecture itself is going to drag up out of the murk. I dont know how one does mathematics. I dont know that there is a way. The idea is always struggling against its own realization. Ideas come with an innate skepticism, they dont just go barreling ahead. And these doubts have their origin in the same world as the idea itself. And that’s not something you really have access to. So the reservations that you yourself in your world of struggle bring to the table may actually be alien to the path of these emerging structures. Their own intrinsic doubts are steering-mechanisms while yours are more like brakes. Of course the idea is going to come to an end anyway. Once a mathematical conjecture is formalized into a theory it may have a certain luster to it but with rare exceptions you can no longer entertain the illusion that it holds some deep insight into the core of reality. It has in fact begun to look like a tool.

Mercy is the province of the person alone. There is mass hatred and there is mass grief. Mass vengeance and even mass suicide. But there is no mass forgiveness. There is only you.