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The Joinery

credit: Andreas Krappweis

credit: Andreas Krappweis

There is but one world and everything that is imaginable is necessary to it. For this world also which seems to us a thing of stone and flower and blood is not a thing at all but is a tale. And all in it is a tale and each tale the sum of all lesser tales and yet these are also the selfsame tale and contain as well all else within them. So everything is necessary. Every least thing. This is the hard lesson. Nothing can be dispensed with. Nothing despised. Because the seams are hid from us, you see. The joinery. The way in which the world is made. We have no way to know what could be taken away. What omitted. We have no way to tell what might stand and what might fall. And those seams that are hid from us are of course in the tale itself and the tale has no abode or place of being except in the telling only and there it lives and makes its home and therefore we can never be done with the telling. Of the telling there is no end. And . . . in whatever . . . place by whatever . . . name or by no name at all . . . all tales are one. Rightly heard all tales are one.  ~ Cormac McCarthy (from The Crossing)

Cormac McCarthy is one of the few fiction writers that I know of who is writing about things that I care about. Maybe the only one. Here he demonstrates what artists should be doing in these challenging times: Reverently pointing out the intricacy and beauty of the joinery. Reminding us what we’re actually dealing with while we are here in these bodies.

This is a vital role, and one that I don’t see many artists and fiction writers fulfilling. Well, perhaps not the successful, well-known ones. Perhaps mainstream success requires aligning with a vision of the world that has no interest in connection, deep meaning, or reverence. That sort of success requires telling the stories of modernity, all straight lines and surfaces.

This passage reminds me of Wendell Berry’s description of creativity. Berry said creativity is that which is unfolding in and through the manifest world, and that we cannot truly be creative if we set ourselves apart from that greater flow. The flip side of this is that any small, everyday action that involves participation in this greater process is itself creative. When we pause to notice and appreciate the joinery we are participating in the tale.

Isn’t that what humans are for?


  1. I really love this my friend.

    • 🙂

  2. A lovely way to put things! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks for reading!

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