March 18, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Long Drive covid-19: day 720 | US: GA | info | act

We started south after picking up Henry from camp. Of course, we were a bit later getting started than I wanted, but that’s standard operating procedure with Autumn. Of course, we had to drive through storms—again, something that always seems to happen on long drives. Most of Georgia was covered with this blanket of yellow storms, but we managed. We stopped in Gainesville around dinner time for some chicken (PDQ, baby!) and hit Trader Joe’s for some beachhouse supplies. We arrived in Placida about 22:00. Other than the rain, it was a fairly uneventful drive with Yacht Rock as soundtrack.

I’m looking forward to a few days of chill. Still, I can’t totally relax, as I have a paper to write for a presentation I agreed to do the Tuesday we get back. The panel is on “Recovery Literature,” and I’m supposed to speak on Eliot and The Waste Land (“Shall I at least set my lands in order?” and “fragments I have shored against my ruins”). That’s fine, but I think I’m going to look at the last 100 years beginning with Eliot (WL was published in 1922) and looking at Mailer’s White Negro (“rebellious imperatives of the self”), Morrison’s Beloved (“This is not a story to pass on”), and McCarthy’s The Road (“carrying the fire”). My basic idea is that only through community can we recover from widespread traumas like world wars and pandemics. We borrow what we need from the past, but at some point we must leave the past behind and find a new way, like Dante leaving Virgil in purgatory. Eliot and Mailer both seem to withdraw from the world and advocate a (re)construction of the ego that potentially leads to fascism or isolation; Morrison and McCarthy look outward from the individual to the good of the community, even in the face of despair. Indeed, it’s in times of hopelessness and despair that our values are truly tested, and most of us seem to fail to uphold them.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be teaching both Morrison and McCarthy in my novel course this summer. I want explore both of these novels again.