Cormac McCarthy on truth

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Courtesy of my Facebook Memories, a passage from one of my favorite novels. Here Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, reflects on truth and untruth, the competition between the two, and people who give up pursuit of the truth.

The stories get passed on and the truth gets passed over. As the sayin goes. Which I reckon some would take as meanin the truth cant compete. But I dont believe that. I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. You cant corrupt it because that's what it is. It's the thing you're talkin about. I've heard it compared to the rock—maybe in the bible—and I wouldnt disagree with that. But it'll be here even when the rock is gone. I'm sure they's people would disagree with that. Quite a few, in fact. But I never could find out what any of them did believe.

For comparison, here’s a bit of dialogue from another great McCarthy novel, All the Pretty Horses, between the protagonist, cowboy John Grady Cole, and a Mexican police captain in the jail where John Grady is being held:

You have the opportunity to tell the truth here. Here. In three days you will go to Saltillo and then you will no have this opportunity. It will be gone. Then the truth will be in other hands. You see. We can make the truth here. Or we can lose it. But when you leave here it will be too late. Too late for truth. Then you will be in the hands of other parties. Who can say what the truth will be then? At that time? Then you will blame yourself. You will see.

There aint but one truth, said John Grady. The truth is what happened. It aint what come out of somebody’s mouth.

Still apropos, still true.