Are We There Yet? The Catastrophe of Polar Deceleration in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

2017-05-22T06:10:14Z (GMT) by Josiane Smith
In Cormac McCarthy’s novel, <i>The Road</i>, a father and his son are trudging on foot, carting their belongings in an old supermarket trolley across what appears to be a post-nuclear America. Desperate to survive the next winter, they are heading south, imagining a warmer climate and perhaps new beginnings. ... McCarthy hurls the reader into a new post-IT era, in which all infrastructure has been annihilated by a major catastrophic event, an utter regress which echoes Albert Einstein’s statement that the fourth World War may well be fought with sticks and stones. In this paper, reading Paul Virilio’s theory on dromology—a term he has coined to denote “acceleration of reality”—and particularly on what he names “polar inertia,” I argue, firstly, that <i>The Road </i>exemplifies how the agency of speed in narrative can transcend the aporia of imagining a future. Secondly, I suggest that representations of deceleration in this text reflect on the perils of capitalist pseudo-utopia of consumerism and advanced technology, linking those to Virilio’s anti-futurist stand on the notion of “progress.”