Blood Meridian Tidbits

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  • 02 Dec 2013 at 9:34 pm #4802

    Glass
    Member

    “He uses an implement with two handles and he chucks it into the hole and he enkindles the stone in the hole with his steel hole by hole striking the fire out of the rock which God has put there.” (BM 337)

    “Cordevero understood full well that the salient point of the whole theory of emanation was the transition from Ein-Sof to the Sefirah Keter and he devoted great effort to its solution. The Sefirot, he argues, owe the source of their existence to Ein-Sof, but this existence is “hidden” in the same sense that the spark of fire is hidden in the rock until it is struck with metal.” (Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem p. 149 Keter Publishing House paperback edition Jerusalem, Israel 1977)


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    18 Dec 2013 at 2:46 pm #4886

    jross
    Member

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZVux0mXUWo

    Here’s a link with video of a Double Barrel Kentucky Flintlock long rifle on youtube, NRA National Firearms museum. Thinking about Glanton’s rifle, that it may have been like this.


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    25 Dec 2013 at 11:28 pm #4912

    efscerbo
    Member

    Hi again,

    Just thought I’d share a few interesting things I’ve noticed in BM and get some of your feedback on them:

    First, one of the most interesting elements of BM (to me) is the question of whether the judge is supernatural or not. He clearly *is* supernatural, yet there is very little compelling evidence that he is so. (Now, that may seem a contradiction in terms, but in a book so laden with ontological and epistemological issues, this surely is not merely aesthetic. That is to say, it *is* a tremendous aesthetic achievement for McCarthy to beat around the bush so adroitly. But I get the sense that McCarthy is pushing the reader to grapple with various questions of knowledge by writing a character who so clearly *seems* supernatural yet withholding or presenting with great hedging any actual evidence of the same.) Various hints of the judge’s nonhumanity are: In Chapter 12, the judge predicts David Brown’s hanging in Chapter 22 (but maybe this was just a lucky guess?). In the last chapter, when the kid (now the man) meets the judge at the Beehive, McCarthy writes how the judge “SEEMED little changed or none in all these years” (emphasis mine). Also, the judge asks the man “Where is Shelby, whom you left to the mercies of Elias in the desert?” The judge could not possibly know this, but maybe that’s also just a lucky guess. That is, maybe the judge simply assumes the kid didn’t have it in him to kill Shelby. And obviously there are many more examples of this playful hinting at the supernatural nature of the judge.

    But there seem to be a few instances where the narrator (don’t know the extent to which I identify the narrator and McCarthy) seems to let us see behind the curtain. One follows my last example above: In the same breath as the judge asks the man about Shelby, he mentions “Tate whom you abandoned in the mountains”. There is *no way* the judge could know this or even guess this. Unless you’re willing to accept some really lateral thinking (such as: maybe Tate didn’t actually get killed by Elias’s men after the kid abandoned him, and then maybe he made his way back to the gang and told the judge what happened, but McCarthy chose not to include any of this), this then becomes an instance where the judge knows something he cannot unless he is some sort of supernatural entity.

    Another one is in Chapter 16, when the lieutenant comes to speak to the judge for the second time after black Jackson kills Mr. Owens. As the judge talks to the lieutenant regarding various legal issues, the narrator says how the judge “quoted Coke and Blackstone, Anaximander, Thales.” Coke and Blackstone make sense in this context, as two of the preeminent British legal thinkers (still today cited in US Supreme Court cases, apparently). But what about Thales and Anaximander? These are usually considered the two earliest philosophers in the Western tradition, but nothing of their thinking is in the least germane to a legal discussion. In fact, they are barely philosophers, at least by modern standards. They are simply the first known men to wonder if the world could be explained by purely physical phenomena, without recourse to the supernatural (a very interesting point in the context of BM, but irrelevant to the legal discussion at hand nonetheless). However, an interesting aspect of this passage is that the narrator says how the judge *quoted* Thales and Anaximander… yet they have no extent writings (not entirely true of Anaximander: There is a single extent fragment attributed to him. But there is nothing left of what Thales wrote. This was the case even by the time of Aristotle. In fact, it has been debated whether or not Thales even existed.) So how did the judge quote them? Is this sloppy on the narrator’s part, that by “quoted” he means “said things commonly attributed to them”? I doubt it. I think it means “quoted”. In which case…….

    On an unrelated note: At the end of Chapter 20, after the kid kills the judge’s horses, the kid and Tobin are hiding together, listening to the judge “[expound] upon those laws pertaining to property rights in beasts mansuete”. Shortly thereafter, the following happens:

    Then [the judge] spoke of other things. The expriest leaned to the kid. Dont listen, he said.
    I aint listenin.
    Stop your ears.
    Stop yours.
    The priest cupped his hands over his ears and looked at the kid.

    In an extremely brief passage, Tobin changes in the eyes of the narrator from “the expriest” to “the priest”. This is the one and only time in the book the narrator calls him “priest”. (Thanks be to Kindle for confirming that.) Surely that’s important. Is it that the only way to beat the judge is to not listen to him? Might this have to do with why the kid does not kill the judge? What to make of the fact that all subsequent references to Tobin by the narrator are as “the expriest”? Does something transpire in the interim that changes the narrator’s view of him? Could that be a typo? It would be quite a strange place to have one, given how it may well affect interpretations of the entire book.

    Anyway, those are some of the more interesting bits I’ve seen recently, thought I’d put them to all of y’all. Merry Christmas / Happy New Year / Happy Holidays to everyone.

    Ed


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    17 Feb 2014 at 8:44 pm #5099

    Glass
    Member

    “Is it that the only way to beat the judge is to not listen to him?”

    Ed, that definitely could be the case. I’ve been thinking about Blood Meridian in terms of the Silenus statues referenced in Alcibiades’ speech in Plato’s Symposium wherein Alcibiades compares Socrates to one of these fascinating statues, which were carved out of wood using the image of Silenus on the exterior but when you opened them up, they contained the representation of a deity made out of gold or some other precious material — ugly on the outside but containing something of tremendous beauty or value within. The world of appearances. A fortune cookie of sorts from olden times. A link to the part on Silenus statues as told by Alcibiades:
    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0174%3Atext%3DSym.%3Asection%3D215b

    Reading the speech of Alcibiades evoked for me Tobin exhorting the kid to stop his ears, to name one congruence to BM that came to mind. I don’t have time at the moment to get into much detail as to why I think this comparison is apt, but please, everyone, check out the speech and the stuff on the Silenus statues if you are at all interested to learn more providing you aren’t already familiar with these statues. I also got to thinking that the jakes in which the judge has hidden himself while waiting for the kid to open the door is also somewhat resonant with a Silenus statue. Erasmus was particularly fascinated by these statues, of which no extant artifacts are known to exist. Anyway, it’s kind of fun to think of some of the ways McCarthy’s work might have a Silenic character to it.


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    • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  Glass.
    18 Feb 2014 at 11:11 am #5101

    Driftwood70
    Member

    Hey there, Glass – regarding your Anthropocene comment here quite a while back…

    If anyone’s innerested, I wrote for a performance piece in the Berlin Natural History Museum a few years ago in which the classic habitat diorama is used to dramatize a post-apocalyptic scenario, perhaps caused by climate change, rather than an Arcadian natural history scenario, such as we’re used to seeing. It was a pretty cool experiment in dramatizing the Anthropocene, and I certainly tried to bring a McCarthy perspective to it, ie: Holden’s notion of the naturalist’s archive as a curatorial and narrative tool toward maintaining suzerainty.

    Trailer here: https://vimeo.com/51564857

    Full hour performance here: https://vimeo.com/48289092

    Was a project that followed on the heels of my Tobin monologue, if anyone’s curious to check that out as well…

    http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/topic/great-dramatic-narration-of-the-gunpowder-scene/


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    03 Mar 2014 at 9:58 am #5131

    Glass
    Member

    “Among the wounded some seemed dumb and without understanding…” (Blood Meridian 53)

    When the kid and Captain White’s outfit are routed by the Comanches, I wonder if some form of agnosia or aphasia is in play during the attack throughout the group, stunned speechless, save for the sergeant’s “Oh my god,” and beset by a state of incomprehension because of what is happening to them.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosia
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphasia

    Also, since we were talking about mosaics in McCarthy recently, I couldn’t help but notice the Comanche “shields bedight with bits of broken mirrorglass” (52) that seem to have the effect of blinding their enemy, in this case Captain White and his men, hinting at a state of agnosia, though the narrator renders the scene in crystal clear clarity amongst all this chaos and confusion, seeing clearly in an otherwise aphasic moment.


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    03 Mar 2014 at 11:56 am #5132

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I suspect that these unfortunate gentlemen also suffered from sudden OAB and ABL, too….

    Incidentally, Pete, on the original issue of hairlessness (of whose many forms alopecia is the one whose evolution troubles me the most at the moment), go prowl the Googleverse for various discussions of hominid neoteny (don’t get sidetracked by the axolotls – they’ll glugg and glurrrp all day and waste your time).


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    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by  Rick Wallach.
    03 Mar 2014 at 12:42 pm #5133

    Driftwood70
    Member

    On Aphasia:

    Years ago I was visiting friends in an old farm house way down in Meigs Co. Ohio. At the end of the long whiskey-filled evening I almost went to sleep in one of the bedrooms in the attic but at the last minute decided against it and went to sleep on the couch on the front porch in the summer air. Sometime later, I know not how long, I woke up to see just beyond the end of the porch something on fire. I got up and stood in the front yard in my underwear and watched, all by myself, a car completely engulfed in flames underneath the carport. It was like a movie: a car completely engulfed in flames; an inexplicable inferno where before there had only been the country night.

    I ran inside the house. I had never been there before so I couldn’t find the lights. I wanted to yell out but I could not. I stumbled up the stairs in the dark to the attic where a couple of my friends were sleeping and managed to wake them. Brad asked me, “What’s wrong?” to which I could not answer. I distinctly remember having an image of the burning car in my brain so powerfully that it overtook my capacity to put a linguistic description to it: it was itself only. He asked me then, instead, “Is something wrong?” to which I could reply, “Yes. Come with me.”

    It took the volunteer fire dept. 40 minutes to get there and we watched that old house burn to the ground. I will ever forget it – nor the temporary physical inability to put words to the image that had suddenly ruptured my understanding of reality.

    There was the whiskey too, of course. But I managed to function in every other way like an Eagle Scout. I just simply could not describe what I had just seen blasting a hole in the night.


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    03 Mar 2014 at 1:26 pm #5134

    Glass
    Member

    Rick, thanks for the pointer on hominid neoteny and taking the time to comment. The neoteny stuff sounds great. I’m still trying to figure out what OAB and ABL are, but I suspect it’s not good.

    Jeff, great story and nicely told. What a crazy night! I can see how the aphasia took hold in those terrifying moments. And thanks for posting the link above to the anthropocene work. I enjoyed that a lot. Not sure if I mentioned Timothy Morton above when I referenced the anthropocene, but he’s really interesting to read and think with regarding these issues. I like his concept of Hyperobjects. You might find it worth checking out if you aren’t familiar with his work. Apologies if I’ve already covered this ground. Thanks again for the aphasia story.


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    03 Mar 2014 at 1:38 pm #5135

    Driftwood70
    Member

    Oh I suspect we’ll all have the fortune to experience OAB and ABL soon enough.


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