Friday, July 17, 2009

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Yes, I finally read Cormac McCarthy. I don't know what took me so long.
What makes us human?

There's a million answers. And almost none of them satisfactory, definitely none of them comprehensive.

The better question might be, what makes you, as an individual, human? When you strip away all these things surrounding you, and not just the pesky things like cars and Nintendo and ethnic cuisine, but the big things like society and higher purpose, when those are eaten away like the grime on an old penny, what is left? What is there that makes us human when most of the things we use to define our humanity are no more?

Like a penny, are we completely pointless without civilization?

I don't know as The Road settles what we are when we have almost nothing left. But despite being absolutely post-apocalyptic in almost the scariest of ways, it gave me hope that there is something more to us than our strength in numbers. Hope that humanity is something intrinsic, something that still exists even when we no longer remember or care about our names, as long as we are willing to hold onto it.

Humanity will exist as long as there is an individual who refuses to let it go.

1 comment:

  1. Humanity is hard to define by any means. Is the quality that makes us "human" an emotion? Is it compassion? Is the quality an achievement? Is it art, music, a flipping aqueduct? Is it physical? Is it having our particular bone and brain structure? Is it language? Is it just one thing or is it many?

    It's hard to say what humanity is as we learn more about the world and about ourselves in relation to the rest of the inhabitants of this planet. We have something in common with each different species on this planet. Before we knew all of this, it was easier to say what made us it's harder, but I still think if we looked hard enough we'd find (or be able to put words to) what makes us human and what defines "humanity".