Proposal for 2018 Southwest Conference on Popular Culture

Hey my proposal for a paper at the upcoming conference in Alberqueque got accepted...here is the abstract I submitted...


The Suppressed Design of THE COUNSELOR and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Viewed Through Spenser’s EPITHIALAMION. by Candy Minx



All that draws McCarthy’s readers to explore meaning in his novels is also what hides meaning in his novels and divides the critical analysis of his work often into religious or scientific arguments rather than a common understanding. 


A grand unified theory can be found in two of Cormac McCarthy’s scripts and the finished films. 


I am going to use Kent Hieatt’s analysis of Spenser’s poem EPITHALAMION as a guide to understanding McCarthy’s scripts. In his 1960 essay Hieatt finds in Spenser’s work  number patterns that correlate the stanzas to the days of the year, the months of the year and the hours of a day. These numbered patterns are a suppressed design. A suppressed design is much like the Renaissance concept of sprezzatura which is the idea of a studied nonchalance or seemingly effortless work. 


The use of violence, elaborate language and engaging characters are the sprezzatura  fueling diverse criticism among McCarthy’s audience which is exciting but also seems to prevent an approach reconciling an audience with different ideological backgrounds. This sprezzatura, or suppressed design, is the over-subtle juxtaposing and hiding of numbered patterns in two of McCarthy’s scripts.


Analysis of astronomy in ancient literature (Jeff Cooley)  and in Shakespeare’s stage directions (Evelyn Tribble) exist but little has been written to distill the numerical patterns in McCarthy’s work. Evelyn Tribble’s work on distributed cognition in the Globe Theatre is a useful approach. Distributed cognition proposes that learning comes from not one source but an environment, it’s customs, tools, artifacts and individuals. I propose that McCarthy scripted films work as a distributed cognitive objects through the layers of number systems hidden under engaging characters, violence and action. I utilize Kent Hieatt’s essay to demonstrate McCarthy has also used a number system in relation to  real world celestial events making the films function like a clock or calendar.  NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is an object embedded with images and action sequences that serve as “dials” or markers of a compass and time-keeping object. 


Both films seem to mark the diurnal and annual ‘movements’ of the sun and a solar eclipse. Hidden in both movies are time-marking devices.The idea that scientific study and religious beliefs are at odds can be revisited  by looking at lost common understanding of memory and by approaching stories as “distributed cognition machines.”


Rather than viewing conflict or resolution as actions emerging from one ideology to prove one’s worldview distributed cognition offers a consilient method to comprehending McCarthy’s scripted films as calendar-memory-machines hidden inside moral-spiritual-frames.