11 Cormac McCarthy Quotes That Are as True Now as They Were Then

Cormac McCarthy (July 20, 1933 – June 13, 2023) is an acclaimed American writer who penned twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and three short stories. McCarthy’s works ranged from all-consuming, riveting Western to immersive post-apocalyptic genres. McCarthy’s works featured intensely graphic accounts of violence, all illustrated by his iconic writing style that was very sparing with punctuation and attribution. McCarthy is looked upon as one of a select group of novelists that are unrivaled in talent and skill.

1. On the mind

An elderly man with a serious expression is sitting on a brown leather couch. He has short white hair and is wearing a light-colored, plaid button-up shirt. The background is blurred, focusing on the man.
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“A man’s at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he don’t want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there.”

2. On the truth

Cormac McCarthy being interviewed while very old.
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“When the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet.”

3. On scars

Cormac McCarthy and interviewer wide pan picture.
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“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real. The events that cause them can never be forgotten.”

4. On not speaking ill of the dead

Cormac McCarthy crossing hands while smiling and looking off into the distance.
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“I guess you ought to be careful about cussin the dead. I would say at the least there probably ain’t no luck in it.”

5. On chance and fate

Cormac McCarthy next to two other interviewers.
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“Notions of chance and fate are the preoccupations of men engaged in rash undertakings.”

6. On the unconscious

Cormac McCarthy resting face in hand.
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“Why is the unconscious so loathe to speak to us? Why the images, metaphors, pictures? Why the dreams, for that matter.”

7. On death

Cormac McCarthy resting his face in his hand while wearing a blue shirt.
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“They say death comes like a thief in the night, where is he? I’ll hug his neck.”

8. On memories

A black and white image of Cormac McCarthy.
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“Men’s memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past that was not.”

9. On going home

A black and white close-up image of Cormac McCarthy.
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“You go back home and everything you wished was different is still teh same and everything you wished was the same is different.”

10. On the depths of misery

Cormac McCarthy in black and white while he holds a tree.
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“There are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse.”

11. On being good

Close-up black and white image of Cormac McCarthy staring at the camera.
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“I don’t think goodness is something that you learn. If you’re left adrift in the world to learn goodness from it, you would be in trouble.”

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