Mankind Gets Religion in Blood Meridian: How Mythology Brings Us Out of Savagery and Leaves Us Lost and In a Bad Way

by hotspur

Hi you guys.  I’ll cite page numbers along the way to prove I am not totally making stuff up.  I have the 1992 Vintage edition.  As far as I can tell the page numbers are the same in the Modern Library edition.

So!  This is the second time I’ve read Blood Meridian.  The first I was 18 and it blew me away.  It did something I had no idea writing could still do—I mean, I’d read Shakespeare and Moby Dick, but this was from a year I was alive.  The book was a dreamlike and unflinching and mysterious performance, it was hilarious and horrifying.  I didn’t know exactly what was going on all the time but I was unbothered by that; it was just a crazy ride.  And—being 18—I never finished it.  Got distracted.  No idea how it turned out.

Part of me was fine with that.  The point of the book seemed to be the way it was written, not what happened.  The point was the performance, the way it reordered things.

Now that I’ve reread it (and it’s had a lot of power over my imagination in the 15+ years since the unresolved first read), I can say this book might be the darkest I’ve ever read—but in style it’s incandescent, and that mysterious opposition (one of many in the book) is no accident.  McCarthy wants us to see a world where the only fact is violence, and anything else (morality, mercy) is a fiction.  Humans are brutal animals in this world.  But Blood Meridian is also a book about how we create and cross into a world of meaning.  Which we do by stories—by mythology, by religion—that complicate the world and fill it with mystifying contradictions that seem to indicate a superior intelligence at work.

It’s a weird way to make the case but let me say it: there are tons of words here whose meanings I can only hazard (swales?  purlieu?), but I enjoyed being disoriented by them.  Better still: that I wasn’t confident of every word seemed like it had to be intentional.  I mean no one knows what “thrapple” means, right? These words pushed me out of having total control, maneuvered me into a strange world and into trusting McCarthy that he wouldn’t lose me there.

My sense that disorientation was on purpose seemed born out pretty soon (page 85) when the judge says “Words are things… Their authority transcends his ignorance of their meaning.”  (Of course, nothing is straight in this book; the judge is talking about a lie he has told to a Mexican whose hand no one will shake.)  I feel that McCarthy is telling us directly: words have authority, “suzerainty” (interesting speech on 198-199!) over us. And McCarthy uses their dislocating strangeness to put us back at the beginning of mankind, before law, mythology, before the wheel, before everything but killing.

Of course it wouldn’t be much of a book if he just took us and left us there, and I contend he also gives us a history or anthropology of how we “mature”; similar to how the kid becomes the man, it’s a story about how the species moves from savage to civil life—via what I’ll call religion.

Religion starts with one of the craziest words in the book: “That night they sat at the fire like ghosts in their dusty beards and clothing, rapt, pyrolatrous” (111).  This comes after many slaughters, at the end of a despairing trek across a particularly harsh land, during which there arose deadly whirlwinds out of which “no voice spoke” and instead is audible at night only “the dull boom of rock falling somewhere far below them in the awful darkness inside the world”; finally they cross a lakebed of gypsum “so fine the ponies left no track upon it.”  And in this trackless bed they build a fire – they make a centerpoint, around which they sit enraptured.  I’d say here we’re at ground zero: the beginning of the end of pure wildernesss.  Our earliest ancestors, orienting the universe around the point of their first bonfire, inventing in a sense the first geometry, the first moment when the world had an order to it (and a shared centerpoint,  instead of just each orienting the world around his own head), and it was a circle of warmth, and in it they felt (maybe for the first time) safe and therefore worshipful, idolatrous of fire—pyrolatrous.

Fire only takes us so far, though.  The burning tree in the desert (215) doesn’t speak like the bush that directed Moses; the origin of its burning is explicitly lightning, not miracle—but here’s the thing: McCarthy calls the tree in the morning a black “stylus” in a terrain “without other designation.”  The world is a blank; the burnt tree is a writing implement.  What we write with it—how we order the universe—is up to us, no god giving orders.  If we want to say the burning was a sign—well, that story will come to have authority.  But I think for McCarthy it’s clear that there was no sign.  Just us.  In McCarthy’s “time before naming,” remember, we’re not in Eden cared for by god—that’s mythology, written later, looking back, imagining something better than what was.  No, before naming we’re in Gondwanaland, “wholly at venture, primal, provisional, devoid of order” (172).

The judge even says: “The order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze , so that you will not lose your way” (245, and straight from ancient Greek religion, the story of Theseus ).  So: becoming more than provisional—moving from bonfire to storytelling to religion: an attempt to describe the world in parable or narrative, lend it sense—is based on a lie.

Lies, though, acquire weight , moreso over time.  Look at the ridiculous parable the judge tells (at a campfire, 142-147).  It’s a Job-like folktale without much point anyone can see, it ends with bones scattered and people broken.  “But there’s a rider to the tale.”  And that’s the trick: the dead man’s unborn son will never know his father, and so is screwed.  Because he will never witness his father’s “small mean ways” or “see him struggling in follies of his own devising.”  This son will imagine a perfect father, one he can never live up to, not a man but an idol carved in stone.  This tragedy is the point of the judge’s tale and it ends there.  McCarthy goes on a little longer: “[The judge] sat before the fire naked save for his breeches and his hands rested palm down upon his knees.  His eyes were empty slots. … so like an icon was he in his sitting that they grew cautious and spoke with circumspection among themselves…”  So the judge himself in telling a powerful story becomes like a statue, the air around him like the air in a temple where people whisper in respect, mystification, fear.

Okay, I better highlight what I mean by religion.  I don’t mean the baby Jesus or Orpheus or the Pyramids, or Zoroastrian dualism or Roman priests examining viscera.  I mean the root of them all: the will to see in the plain observed facts of the world evidence of something more.  The mysticizing of the universe so that it isn’t just what we see but the embodiment of an unseeable intelligence with a plan.  I mean religion as a story we tell—any story—that transforms the universe from wilderness into something orderly (and all stories do this, or what’s their point?).  The judge says “The mystery is there is no mystery” (252), and I think McCarthy accepts that—while writing a book that is full of mystery.

What to make of that last speech (328-331)?  The judge, a known liar since we first met him accusing a preacher of sex with goats, now appearing theatrically, a “thespian,” and talking about ritual and “the dance”?  We could spend all day on this speech but as it pertains to religion I’ll note the judge calls our life a series of ceremonies.   Which is to say, I think, that we enjoin ourselves to each other—tabernacle each man within each other man, all witnesses to each other—and in doing this we as a cult or parish or broad civilization imagine and share rules metaphysical and legal that we agree the world is governed by, enact rituals or behaviors according to the rules, make games—just living by rules is playing a game—and we do it because when we are alone, without the order of games, without anything at stake, we fall into emptiness and despair, knowing one day we will “step down into darkness” and be forgotten.  Suspend all incredulity if you want any stories about what happens in that darkness—McCarthy won’t do it.  And I think that’s why [SPOILER ALERT] the last death is not described.  It’s a blank spot because finally there can be no honest or meaningful account of it.

Now the epilogue and then I’ll shut up.  It’s so oblique, I’m not sure what’s going on.  I think it describes the building of railroads, crossing the frontier with orderly lines, time zones, work crews, thereby erasing the frontier.  So that the frontier comes to us as myth only.  We eulogize the lost frontier, we long for its purity, to live a story as simple and sensible as total freedom, good versus evil in a showdown at high noon, violence just and redemptive.  We have been trying to live up to this myth in America for 150 years now, like the kid who never met his father, and we feel that our world is less and we are failures.

What do you guys think?

Random Thoughts:

  • 141, “The judge smiled.  Whether in my book or not, every man is tabernacled in every other and he in exchange and so on in an endless complexity of being and witness to the uttermost edge of the world.”  A man who stands outside this and is only his own witness is “an ignorant heathen savage.”  I think this means witnessing and story-telling let us share a point of view, and this is as close to a holy transformation of nature as McCarthy wants us to get.
  • 146, the judge at Anasazi ruins: “Here are the dead fathers.  Their spirit is entombed in the stone.   It lies upon the land with the same weight and ubiquity.  For whoever makes a shelter of reeds and hides has joined his spirit to the common destiny of creatures and he will subside back into the mud with scarcely a cry.  But who builds in stone seeks to alter the structure of the universe…”  I think this is true of Blood Meridian itself: the style looks unblinking at the world, the words often iconic or mysterious rather than explicatory, to make it (or any mythologizing) a kind of monument that will hold sway over how we see our past and ourselves and our potential.
  • 153, the whole talk about how the witness is more important than the killer or the victim because it’s the witness who can say it happened and lend it meaning.
  • 246, the judge’s explanation of the universe, using a coin, is a magic trick.  It appears to disobey natural law, to transform reality.  They know there must be a string attached.  But they are mystified anyway.
  • 250, “The priest also would be no godserver but a god himself.”
  • 286, the dead Glanton gang are described as “all rubbed out.”  They did nothing permanent, agents only of chaos, and so vanish as easily as a chalk drawing?
  • I keep talking about mystery and mystification, so I better clarify.  To me, religious mystery is contemplative and resides in contradiction: that we are mortal but also immortal; that the Christian god is one but also three; that the Jews are god’s chosen people but also conquered by Babylon and Egypt… I don’t want to drag us into specific religions but any thoughts on the contradictions in this book, you guys?  I think McCarthy is constantly raising an idea only to show us an opposing idea that short-circuits it in the most thrilling way; i.e., the kid shows mercy to Shelby on 206-209 and this helps us root for the kid but at the same time the mercy just draws out Shelby’s death and may be a sign of weakness, so what the hell are we rooting for and who are we, because later on 280 I also admired the kid’s marksmanship and was rooting for him to kill Yumas so he could escape.  Another mystery: part of the kid truly becoming a man is when he tells the woman who he is; but she is a dead shell, dry as reeds, so there is no witness to his becoming a man (except us readers.)
  • Final thought: Blood Meridian is partly about how every story transforms wilderness into something orderly, but it is also as close as possible to contradicting this.  Because what the hell happens in this book?  They ride around killing.  A kid gets older.  Everyone dies.  At no point does the authorial voice say plainly, “Here’s the moral.”  The judge says that, and the judge seems supernatural—but the judge is also a liar in the very first scene we meet him, and he has to be mortal, right?—only a “passing thespian.”  So the idea that he is a god or a devil is our idea because we want that big meaning to be there, and we are encouraged by the author, who also however undercuts the idea, by telling us it’s just what we want, and who is in fact (along with you the reader!) the only identifiable superior intelligence running the show.
  • I love this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

“I was born in the best state, New Jersey, and lived at the shore, which is not how it looks on TV.  I wrote a book in 1996 that almost got published, and when the decision was finally reached not to make me hugely famous at a tender age, I decided on a big change, and spent months driving around the country, taking photos I still have not developed, ultimately settling in Venice Beach. There I wrote a lot of bad movie scripts that no one ever produced, which is completely normal. I also worked a variety of stupid jobs (I was the best latte-frother on 3rd Street) and eventually one job stuck, in advertising. For fun, I write stuff that no one except bookgum publishes or produces.  I don’t tweet and I’m reluctant to link you guys to my Facebook page; I don’t have embarrassing eyebrows or anything, I just like the anonymity.  By the end of the week I might change my mind.”

COMING UP:

  • Wednesday, Mans argues that Blood Meridian IS A COMIC novel.
  • Thursday WE HAVE Dr. Girlfriend STEPPING up and discussing THE ROLE of the author IN Blood Meridian, in the LARGER LITERARY world, and HOW CORMAC MCCARTHY does or does not “LIVE UP” TO this role.
  • Finally, ON FRIDAY, I’ll (this is AN AMERICAN PATRIOT now, by the WAY) wrap THINGS up with SOME FINAL thoughts and AN OPEN forum FOR FURTHER discussion SO BE SURE to keep F5ING.
  • AS ALWAYS, those interested in WRITING FOR Bookgum should email ME AT AnAmPatriot@gmail.com
 

 

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42 Responses to Mankind Gets Religion in Blood Meridian: How Mythology Brings Us Out of Savagery and Leaves Us Lost and In a Bad Way

  1. dr. girlfriend says:

    pyrolatrous was one of my fave words!
    ADORE your interpretation of the epilogue, where frontier becomes myth, and truth becomes fable. in fact, i think your last sentence evoked more emotion in me than ever did mccarthy. bravo!

  2. T-bag says:

    Well, this was awesome. Bookgum is, like, already a huge success that I am proud to be a part of. BUT ENOUGH SAPPINESS.

    I have to say I didn’t think much about religion while I was reading the book, but now I wish I had.

    With all the comparisons between religion and lies, would you guys say that this is an atheistic or agnostic book? Or is it a deeply religious book? Does it even matter? I really don’t know, so I want to know what you guys think.

  3. lilbobbytables says:

    Hotspur, you’re smart.

    I honestly didn’t pick up on most of what you did because I think I was perhaps too distracted by the brutality, as was discussed yesterday. However, your essay has given me much food for thought.

    I will now let the smarter monsters play in the bookgum sandbox. I will be in the corner, playing with a ball. Derp Derp.

    • hotspur says:

      Lilbobby, I am relieved if I tricked you into believing I am smart! (It helped me that I read with the fear that I was going to have to write an essay at the end for utter monsters like you to bat around.)

  4. William says:

    Thanks Hotspur!

  5. Mans says:

    I wonder what the Myth of the West means to us today. At this point, we’ve had decades of revising our ideas of the West and on one hand I am inclined to say, “Do I really need someone to tell me that the actual American West of the 19th C. was a terrible place and not full of virtuous heroes?”

    Furthermore, I know people who not only buy into this American West/Rugged Individual idea but also would read Blood Meridian and not see it as a critique (which maybe it isn’t) but say, “Yes, yes. I want to be Judge Holden. I mean, not killing, but bring the world under my dominion.”

    This strikes me, in contemporary political terms, as the sort of rhetoric that I hear from Libertarian/Tea Party friends and acquaintances fairly regularly. I do not mean to equate those philosophies with the bloody carnage of the novel, but only with the Judge’s determination to impose his will on those around him. I could see him on C-Span 2.

  6. Mans says:

    In a way, the view of myth that the book presents is a very American one. That is, I think the Judge would say, “Hey, this is America. We get to make our own myths. Our own religions. Our own gods. We no longer are subject to them, but they are subject to us.”

    Consider, Holden is most often in opposition to Tobin, the expriest, a representative of an older type of religion, a religion that is over man. It is of course, Tobin who tells us the story of how the Judge came to be with the group. In that, he is fulfilling his role as priest and religious man–he passes the stories along with some commentary and tells the Kid who to live.

    The Judge however rejects that, as Hotspur points out, and urges the Kid (much like Darth Vader urges to Luke) to give in and get to be a God himself.

    But I also think that everything that the Judge says is questionable.

  7. Patrick M says:

    The “what” of the epilogue does seem to be about putting the railroad in, or maybe fence posts or telegraph lines – things that “tamed the West”, but it’s still done with violence and fire, and I think some of the points made that any story we create or any artifice we construct is ultimately temporary is in keeping here. I take the people walking behind the man as those who accept the artifice unthinkingly (which artifice = society’s laws or religion or anything we say to ourselves to feel better; they are “restrained by a prudence or reflectiveness which has no inner reality”).

    The Kid in some ways is maybe one of these people – I’m not sure he ever acts deliberately. Especially when he shoots someone (or tries to), it’s either in self-defense or at the prodding of someone else.

    • Mans says:

      What the Kid does, and what may be his salvation, is that he refuses to give into the Judge’s view of the world. There is a fine line between brave refusal and a failure to act bravely, so I don’t really know how this shakes out.

    • hotspur says:

      Oh, dang yes! Telegraph poles! That fits better than railroads. And I really, really like your take on the kid. And on the people walking behind — I was not sure what to do with them. Now I don’t see any other way to take it. I think you solved the Epilogue!

  8. William says:

    When I first read Blood Meridian (also at 18) I had just finished reading a book for high school called The Man Who Was Thursday. In the book there is a character called Sunday who is described similarly to the Judge, and I pictured them as interchangeable characters. The description is that Sunday is, “too big to be allowed.” There is a great description that continues extrapolating his unbelievable feature. I guess why I am even saying this is that the way the Judge speaks and exists is to my brain, “too big to be allowed.” His popping in and out/philosophical musings/ and general debauchery is too, too much. I would recommend reading it. It is a fun and short book, unlike this one.*

    *I love Blood Meridian. It may be my favorite book. Total tie between this and To The Lighthouse. I am just saying that “fun” is not the word I would use to describe the reading experience.

  9. jwormyk says:

    For me the book also came across like the Bible in its aesthetic. So not only did a lot of the themes have a religious influence, but the actual writing reminded me of reading bible versus. I found that this is why the book left me with this gravity. To tell you the truth the book itself was small, but when I was done I felt like it should have weighed 5 pounds.

    • Patrick M says:

      A funny side effect of the archaic, biblical language is that when I read something that scanned as “biblical” — a burning bush! — my brain geared up to start making connections / find the larger meaning, and then every time, there was no larger meaning: it was just a tree that happened to be on fire just then.
      “Psyche, your brain!” – Cormac McCarthy

      • Shepard says:

        I’m not sure that’s a side effect, in fact, it seems to me that this effect is exactly what McCarthy was going for.

        If you’ve read some of McCarthy’s other works you know his style and word choice is fairly bizarre in all of them, but this is by far the most dense when it comes to weird archaic language. It’s because of this that I view Blood Meridian as a sort of Anti-Bible.

        Which is to say, if the Bible is a story (or a series of stories) that have the common goal of making sense of the world and setting down rules for a society to live by, then Blood Meridian is about how it’s futile to try to make sense out of a world that is inherently chaotic.

        McCarthy’s purposefully “Biblical” language is one way he gets that point across. It makes you look for allusion and symbolism in every little thing, when in reality the symbols and parallels you’re picking out don’t signify anything.

      • Patrick M says:

        (right; by “side-effect” I didn’t mean to imply it was unintentional)

    • jwormyk says:

      Sheppard, ultimately I think that is what is so unsettling about the book. It comes of as having this ancient importance like it was written on a cave wall or found in a catacomb by Indiana Jones, yet really it offers no clues or answers. I like “anti-bible”. Its like there is no pay off or promise of forgiveness. Only blood, desert, and death.

  10. Grinth says:

    Loved it.

    A couple thoughts:

    While the judge embodies mysticism, religion, the supernatural; he also embodies science, progress, and Darwinism. For every parable, there is documentation. For every instance of mysticism there is the execution of an acute scientific mind (the creation of gun powder for example). And for every instance of the implied supernatural, there is an instance of the judge being very much “of the world”.

    He is also paired with the idiot. I have gone back and forth on whether or not I see the idiot as a foil for the judge, or if he is a foil for the Glanton gang. Perhaps he is both.

    • YEAH, I’M not sure WHAT to make of the IDIOT. WHAT are y’alls thoughts ON THE POSSIBLE pedo aspect OF THE Judge?

      • shellbomber says:

        Yeah, the pedophilia of the judge was definitely implied. Someone (a McCormack scholar or some such) argued that the judge rapes the kid in the outhouse because he never got to when the kid was still a kid.

      • I’ve HEARD that theory. GROSS, but it HAS A point that IF THE JUDGE could not CORRUPT the Kid’s spirit, he CAN STILL CORRUPT and destroy HIS flesh.

      • hotspur says:

        Huh. I didn’t get a pedo vibe, but I also didn’t think about the fool much. Hmm: well, he eats his own poo, and our story starts and ends in an outhouse. He is in a cage, until he is baptized and dressed up by the women, which doesn’t change him. He never kills anyone but he also never becomes more than a fool. He has zero agency? On some level it’s just funny: like Holden is King Lear but his Fool instead of clever truth-telling just gibbers away? I dunno.

      • stu says:

        I’m glad someone brought up the idiot, because he’s involved in several episodes very unlike the rest of the book. Like how the woman “freed” him from his brother who was keeping him in a cage?

        It’s all very motherly, how she cleans him and puts him to bed, something alien to every other page of the book. Of course her efforts and compassion are a failure – without the cage, he wanders off, gets naked, and almost drowns. Are we supposed to see her as naive or powerless to change whatever it is he represents (if he represents anything at all!)?

        Then, almost immediately after that, the Judge takes charge of him, saving him at the river in what McCarthy calls “a baptism or some ritual not yet inaugurated into any canon.” Maybe this is just another incident of the Judges exploiting (sexually or otherwise) powerless people, but there is a real sense of him taking ownership, albeit almost as a pet of some kind.

        We know the Judge wants everything under his “dominion”, and there are few relationships he could have that allow him fuller power over an individual than that one (though the scene with Apache child he plays with before murdering comes to mind). That’s where I felt Holden’s interest in the idiot came from and why he keeps him with him in the desert even while fighting for survival.

      • stu says:

        shellbomber, I think I may have read that same writer talking about the outhouse. I believe he also said that the Judge sexually violating the Kid would also fit in with the shocked reaction of the men who see whatever it is they see in the outhouse. They may not be phased by violence, but that would represent something more unspeakable and taboo for them. Not sure about that theory, but, then again, I’m not sure I really want to know!

      • jwormyk says:

        I definitely saw the Judge as a pedophile. There were always kids turning up dead after being seen with the judge. The one scene where the Indian child was riding on the horse with the judge made me think of a perfect photoshop opportunity for Pedobear.

      • I FOUND this short article WHICH touches on the ENDING AND THE possible gnostic READINGS of Blood Meridian: http://www.gradesaver.com/blood-meridian-or-the-evening-redness-in-the-west/wikipedia/major-themes/

  11. shellbomber says:

    Well done, hotspur!

    I got the sense that the Glanton Gang was almost cult-like, with the judge as their charismatic leader. They all seemed so eager to believe he was a being apart. As mentioned, the kid was the only one who didn’t drink the koolaid or whatever.

    P.S. I think it was pretty obvious what the epilogue was all about. They are laying railroad tracks to set the stage for the greatest western of all time, Back to the Future Part III.

  12. Shepard says:

    Loved the write-up, Hotspur, great work.

    I’ve read Blood Meridian three times now, the first time when I was about 14 (I’m in college now). It’s pretty much my favorite book if I can be said to have one.

    As I said in my reply to Patrick M’s comment above, I’m inclined to believe that if this book is about anything (and I’m not sure it has to be), then it’s about the ways in which man tries to make sense out of a chaotic world and ultimately fails.

    That said, one of my favorite things about the book is how the Judge’s nature is left ambiguous.

    I view the Judge as being more than mortal, perhaps a malevolent form of the Trickster archetype found in a lot of mythology and folklore, or even (and this is a bit of a stretch) a twisted version of the idea of Jesus Christ as a supernatural force in human form. Instead of being the manifestation of a benevolent God that has motives that people can (sort of) understand, like Jesus supposedly was, the Judge can be seen as a human manifestation of the chaos that religions try to reign in and control.

    • Mans says:

      I don’t think that you are wrong to pick up some strong Judge = Jesus vibes. Toward the end, he rides around with a crown of vines on (I think–I don’t have the book at work). Clearly this echos both Christ’s crown of thorns and also, in my mind, British pre-Christian pagan belief.

  13. batteredgnome says:

    The judge is a total Mary Sue.

    Discuss.

  14. thedrizzle says:

    I really wish I had something more to add to this conversation, and maybe tomorrow, Thursday or Friday I’ll chime in, but right now I’m more comfortable as a spectator. Both write-ups have been amazing and have really made me consider re-reading this book some time soon.

  15. Chris Trash says:

    Do you guys think that El Topo was any inspiration to this book? Also, Why can’t I stop thinking about movies?

  16. bill_the_butcher says:

    Wow Hotspur this is awesome! unreal points I hadn’t thought of. I’m so gald you mentioned the vocabulary, suzerain is the best. Also, this discussion is unreal, you guys are all blowing my mind.

    Speaking of the suzerain, I like to think of the Judge as an author. Remember, the Judge is always collecting things for his book. Then he erases them from the world. Thus, he is the sole keeper of the record of that thing, he can sketch it or describe it subjectively, portray it subjectively. The book thus becomes a work of mythology, the writer has all the power.

    Hotspur and others wisely pointed out that you have to make your own meaning in this book, it is a blank slate and the world is insane and calamitous.

    But the Judge orders things, the Judge takes only what he wishes from that crazy world and makes it into whatever he wants.

    I think McCarthy is showing the power that writers of myth, religion and history have.

    • Reeven says:

      One of my favorite lines in the entire book is from the Judge, which he delivers as he’s collecting things in his book. It’s something to the extent of “anything that exists without my knowledge, does so without my consent”.

      I feel like whole papers could be written on that one line. It fits in with the “Judge as the author” idea in the sense that, if he does not know something existed, and does not write it down in his book, one hundred years later it will be just as though it didn’t exist (unless of course someone else documented it elsewhere), since nobody will know it ever did. So if The Judge does not give his consent for something to exist, eventually it essentially won’t. If one of the representations of The Judge is that of all of the authors of this time, it’s unsettling to think that we view the history of this time period through the perception of people like him.

      These discussions are awesome, I’m loving the book more and more than I already did initially (which was a lot).

  17. Mans says:

    Here are some notes I made while reading that bare on the religion aspects of the novel:

    “Two men had deserted in the night and that made us down to twelve and the judge thirteen.” Clearly, Jesus and his 12 apostles. (Page 127)

    In the Old Testament certain numbers have special properties. Seven is a special number that denotes fullness. This pops up a number of times in the book: At the beginning, the Kid is 14 (7 + &); he ends up in Nacogdoches in 1849 (49 = 7 X7); when the Rev. Green is preaching, it has been raining for two weeks (14 again). These are just from the first 5 pages. There are more.

    How many ruined churches did they come across?

    The Kid rides into Nacogdoches on a mule, like Christ rides into Jerusalem.

    The soldier who takes the Kid back to Capt. White says, “I’m white and christian.” He then says that Capt. White raised him like Lazarus.

    The St. Elmo’s fire that Capt. White’s crew experience echoes the fire in Acts which gives the Apostles the ability to take the Word of God out to all the nations.

    Concerning the dead babies in the tree: When Zeus was a child, his mother (Earth) hid him in a tree from his father (Time) so that he would not be eaten (depending on which version you read. This is my memory from childhood). Zeus would have then been “larval to some unreckonable being” as he later became the king of the gods.

    The ferry: Charon across the river Styx.

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    Truth In Aluminum Houses And Houses

  19. yummyarsenic says:

    imo the “contradictions” are central to the book. benjamin said that every record of civilization is a record of barbarism; how can the judge be so educated and also so barbarous? to that question we should add the one of how our enlightened state justified vietnam, korea, etc. i’d like to talk about your reading of the epilogue as essentially nostalgic. whether or not it’s elegiac and nostalgic, it’s important to remember that other forms of this “myth” are not romanticized and nostalgic, but violent and ideological: the judge will never die because of mankind’s need for a frontier, constantly, and a myth to base it on; frederick turner could never have anticipated that when the frontier ended in the west that we would look outward to the sea and to other countries, yet that’s what we’ve done. that’s the cultural critique that moby dick inaugurates and which extends into blood meridian.

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