Sunday, February 22, 2009
Random Readings Vol. 7
This installment of Random Readings is from Act III of Cormac McCarthy's play THE STONEMASON. The play follows a family of black stonemasons, the Telfairs, over a three-year period in the early 1970s. Though Ben Telfair, the narrator, is ostensibly talking about his father's craft during this scene, it strikes me that McCarthy is really talking about writing, or any other serious immersive endeavor:
"The work is everything, and whatever is learned is learned in the doing. ... And if it is true that laying stone can teach you reverence of God and tolerance of your neighbor and love for your family it is also true that this knowledge is instilled in you through the work and not through any contemplation of the work.
"... It's not the mortar that holds the work together. What holds the stone trues the wall as well and I've seen him check his fourfoot wooden level with a plumb bob and then break the level over the wall and call for a new one. Not in anger, but only to safeguard the true. To safeguard it everywhere. He says that to a man who's never laid a stone that there's nothing you can tell him. Even the truth would be wrong. The calculations necessary to the right placement of stone are not performed in the mind but in the blood."