Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Children's Story for Old Men? (Caption contest)

Sample caption: "That depends, Voldemort. Can you see me?"

An excerpt from "Cormac McCarthy Sends in His Treatment of the Final Harry Potter Movie,", by John Jasper Owens:

Harry stirs his cauldron but does not understand and Snape stalks his class and is pleased that Harry does not understand. Ron whispers about quidditch because Ron always discusses quidditch. When the Dark Lord returns he will pluck Ron’s liver with his gory talons and Ron will scream. He will scream about quidditch. Hermione is perfect and her work is perfect and the potion within her cauldron is perfect. It stirs itself as she stares at it and she does not blink. She does not blink. Snape arrives and he glances into Harry’s cauldron. Snape sneers. Fifty points from Gryffindor. Draco and Goyle gibber laughter. Goyle’s head is a pumpkin carved by an idiot and Draco’s teeth are wealthy and white and should be fangs but they are not fangs. They are not fangs.

Some comments below the fold.

Diclaimer: Your mileage may vary, of course.

I'll be honest: This is here in large measure because of the picture, which I think is inspired. The rest . . . ehh.

This is one of those instances of parody in which the two choices to be married in the piece are so inspired as to produce envy in those of us who find ourselves inclined on occasion toward writing parody, yet for some reason this just doesn't quite work. Speaking as someone who has tried and failed miserably in the attempt, McCarthy's style is very hard to parody. His combination of vocabulary and the King-James-Version cadences of his sentences is what's missing here. I think also Owens chooses scenes that aren't terribly McCarthyesque in quality--which is a shame because in Deathly Hallows there's plenty of material of the sort that, in the contexts of his own novels, McCarthy deals with all the time. "Deathly Hallows" itself has a McCarthy-like sound to my ear.

And there's no spitting. The other caption for the picture that I was considering was "Expectorare!" (or, more accurately, whatever the imperative form for that verb is--Grobie?)

Anyway: Please don't consider my choice of caption for this picture as the final word. I hope you'll submit your own captions in comments.


Doc said...

"I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am ." - Kurt Vonnegut

And there you have it.

I expect that after he has passed, some bar or hotel [laying the claim McCarthy spent 28 hours a day in residence] will sponsor a contest along the lines of Harry's Bar now infamous Bad Hemmingway contest.

You are right - the picture is genius. However, because it conflates Harry and Chighurh - NOT Voldemort as one might reasonably expect - I'm at a total loss as to a caption.

Although I am put in mind of Nietzsche's Superman for some reason...

How goes your collaboration on the Coen Brothers, by the by?

John B. said...

Hey, Doc--thanks for stopping by.

I couldn't make the Coen Bros. thing go--neither to sufficient length nor by deadline. You know how some ideas sound pretty good when vague and un(in)formed? Fortunately, my colleague already has more manuscripts than room in the final text.

The Cormac McCarthy Society has had an annual parody contest for the past few years.

As to a caption, I toyed with plugging in the name of a character who is, by comparison, a mere annoyance to Harry--someone like Crabbe and/or Goyle--so as to capture some of Chigurh's brutality. But it seemed too much. Ah, well.

John B. said...

I did have a quick thought about this that you said, Doc:

You are right - the picture is genius. However, because it conflates Harry and Chighurh - NOT Voldemort as one might reasonably expect - I'm at a total loss as to a caption.

The last couple of Potter books do make clear, both directly and indirectly, that Harry has a dark side to him as well--perhaps not Voldemortian/Chigurhian in quality, but he's not quite beatific in nature, either.

Doc said...

"...that Harry has a dark side to him as well--"

Ah, don't we all? Sorry, my only real knowldge of Harry is through the ocasional sighting on late night cable( I'm pretty sure I've seen bits of the flic -where Voldemort kills a young wizard after a maze chase- over 20 times...)

Let me give it more thought; frankly, all that pops up in my disordered mind at the moment is-

"Do you feel lucky, punk? you?"

; ' )

John B. said...

Entering this one on behalf of Bobby.

Well done, sir--and thanks for the two plugs.