Blood Meridian Tidbits

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  • 06 Mar 2014 at 2:58 pm #5139

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    Heh – you can look up the abbreviations; I don’t want to spoil the thrill of discovery for you.

    On the neoteny issue, the best quick, concise (and amusing) essay on the subject, and a terrific intro to the entire topic, is Stephen Jay Gould’s classic essay “A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse,” in his book The Panda’s Thumb, explained as only Gould could explain it. Fortunately, you can enjoy this little masterpiece from the comfort of your own desktop:

    http://todd.jackman.villanova.edu/humanevol/homagetomickey.pdf


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    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by  Rick Wallach.
    12 Mar 2014 at 9:01 pm #5179

    Glass
    Member

    Came across a scan of a page from the Oct. 20, 1849, Texas State Gazette newspaper (Austin, Texas) with a story mentioning John Glanton under the headline “Chihuahua — Maj. Chevallie and the Indians.”

    “One company is out under John Glanton from San Antonio. It numbers perhaps 30 men…They are splendidly mounted and armed. They expect to go some 200 miles to find the Indians,” the story reads in part. Some interesting and familiar details on various prices for scalps as well:

    http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth80900/m1/6/?q=john%20joel%20glanton


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    11 May 2014 at 10:21 am #5353

    Glass
    Member

    “out there past men’s knowing…” (BM 304)

    A brief followup of sorts to a discussion we had in March here on the neurological conditions of Agnosia and Aphasia. I’ve been wondering how the idea of “agnosis” (lack of knowledge) might be used to think about McCarthy. There has been a lot of commentary on “gnosis” (knowledge) in McCarthy, but not a lot, near as I can tell, on its antonym agnosis. Maybe there has been, though just not framed in terms of “not knowing” perhaps. I guess I’m thinking of agnosis in terms of how various characters make decisions in the books based on incomplete or imperfect knowledge. Much agnosis in McCarthy.

    Some interesting examples in TOK for sure, and the characters wandering around the landscape in OD also comes to mind. JGC in ATPH wondering what Don Hector really knows about him having sex with his daughter, and in NCFOM there is much agnosis to be considered. Big decisions made in the realm of not knowing everywhere.

    It seems like the judge is the only character who operates from a place of complete knowledge. And in spite of his erudition and lectures to the gang, is he more of a clever agnotologist than one who sheds light? http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnotology Anyone have any thoughts on agnosis?


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    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  Glass.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  Glass.
    13 Jun 2014 at 12:46 pm #5505

    Glass
    Member

    I like this correspondence:

    “…how can we suppose that the august Being who brought all these countless worlds into form by the simple establishment of a natural principle flowing from his mind was to interfere personally and specially on every occasion when a new shell-fish or reptile was to be ushered into existence on one of these worlds? Surely this idea is too ridiculous to be for a moment entertained?” (Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by Robert Chambers, 1844)

    “If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he have not done so by now?” (Judge Holden, BM 146)

    I’m guessing Holden read Chambers in London when this book was making such a splash in the mid-1840s…


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    16 Jul 2014 at 2:54 pm #5647

    efscerbo
    Member

    Hi all,

    Several interesting things I’ve noted:

    1) I found this passage in Augustine’s Confessions, Book 10, viii (15) (Taken from the Oxford Chadwick translation):

    “The power of memory is great, very great, my God. It is a vast and infinite profundity. Who has plumbed its bottom? This power is that of my mind and is a natural endowment, but I myself cannot grasp the totality of what I am. Is the mind, then, too restricted to compass itself, so that we have to ask what is that element of itself which it fails to grasp? Surely that cannot be external to itself; it must be within the mind. How then can it fail to grasp it?”

    Very like the thought meditated on by the hermit, Webster, and the judge:

    The hermit tells the kid “A man’s at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with.” (20)

    Webster tells the judge “But no man can put all the world in a book. No more than everthing drawed in a book is so”, with which the judge agrees: “Well said, Marcus” (147).

    And later the judge says “[E]xistence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.” (256)

    __________________________

    2) There’s an interesting reference to the Greek underworld at the end of Chapter 19: The morning of the Yuma massacre, black Jackson goes out to piss into the river. Doing so, he climbs into one of the “scows” that lay downstream:

    “In the floor of the scow was a small coin. Perhaps once lodged under the tongue of some passenger. He bent to fetch it. He stood up and wiped the grit from the piece and held it up and as he did so a long cane arrow passed through his upper abdomen and flew on” (285).

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charon%27s_obol. Very interesting, because does this make the Colorado the Styx? And if so, how do we interpret the scene in the desert afterwards? Is this an afterlife of sorts? Hades/Hell? And is it at all important that Jackson dies while pissing into that river? Or that he dies immediately upon picking up the coin?

    ___________________________

    3) There’s what seems to be a reference the allegory of the cave in Chapter 19: In San Diego, Glanton and his men go to the alcalde’s house in the middle of the night, put a noose around his neck, and hang him from the rafters. Someone lights a lamp and his wife is able to see what they’re doing to him: “The old woman raised up and saw first the shadow and then the form of her husband dangling from the rope” (282). Shadow followed by “form” surely sounds like an allusion to Plato’s cave.

    This is potentially related to the description of the dancing bear at the end: “On the boards the bear was dancing for all that his heart was worth and the girl cranked the organ handle and the shadow of the act which the candlelight constructed upon the wall might have gone begging for referents in any daylight world.” (339) The contrast between the shadows on the wall and the “daylight world” is similarly reminiscent of Plato’s cave.

    ___________________________

    4) There is an odd and interesting symmetry in the timeline of the book. (See the first post of http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/topic/bm-timeline/ if you want to double-check some details.) The kid is born in November 1833. The vast majority of the book takes place in mid 1849 – mid 1850, when the kid is 15-16. The “eldress in the rocks” scene takes place in Spring 1862, when “the kid” (as he is still called) is 28 years old. Finally, the last chapter takes place in “late winter” (so Feb/Mar?) 1878, so the man is 44. The symmetry is that the main part of the book ends when the kid is 16, and the “eldress in the rocks” takes place 16 years before the last chapter (some might say 16 years before his death). Said another way, the main action of the book takes place 28 years before the end of the book, and the “eldress in the rocks” takes place when the kid is 28.

    This is possibly just an unimportant coincidence. But I’m very wary of McCarthy’s use of numbers after the recurrence of “117” in No Country and The Road. And it is potentially another of Sepich’s “palindromes”. So who knows? Just thought I’d share.


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    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  efscerbo.
    04 Aug 2014 at 11:14 am #5738

    Glass
    Member

    Judge Holden and the enormous dome of his forehead. It might be possible that Holden’s skull has escaped the evolutionary process of gracilization, or the thinning of the human skull, while at the same time the pedomorphism aligned with that process seems to be on steroids when it comes to the judge. I wonder if his skull is as robust as the Bodo skull from one of the epigrams at the beginning of the book. I think it’s an interesting pairing of qualities perhaps, and an idea that I’ve been trying to get through my own thick skull in order to understand Holden a little better.


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    13 Sep 2014 at 7:01 am #5857

    Glass
    Member

    Following some links out of a term in Tantra that means ultimate sovereign (chakravartin) and the left-handed path led me to this link on the Magic Circle, which has been used through the centuries in Black Magic rituals. The casting of circles recalls what the man with the post-hole digger is doing in the Epilogue to Blood Meridian. Seemed like this was worth posting: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_circle

    I found this description of the ultimate sovereign interesting, especially given the judge’s desire to become suzerain: “There is a significant difference between the two Tantric paths, that of the right hand and that of the left (which both are under Shiva’s aegis). In the former, the adept always experiences ‘someone above him,’ even at the highest level of realization. In the latter, ‘he becomes the ultimate sovereign’ (chakravartin = world ruler.)” From the Yoga of Power by Julius Evola 1949


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    18 Nov 2014 at 11:25 am #6094

    Glass
    Member

    I found a possible connection between the judge, when he’s speaking to the kid in the Bee Hive, and a couple of lines from the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians.

    “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20 KJV)

    Quite similar in wording (and possibly meaning) to the judge’s “Where is yesterday? Where is Glanton and Brown and where is the priest?” (BM 331)

    I particularly like the parallel between Paul’s “scribe” and the judge’s “priest.”

    All in keeping with the ubi sunt motif McCarthy seems so fond of.


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    12 Dec 2014 at 4:48 am #6131

    efscerbo
    Member

    Hi all,

    So I’m pretty sure this is pretty dumb (in the sense of highlighting my ignorance of apparently well-known stuff), but I thought I’d share anyway. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been reading a ton of Shakespeare lately, and one thing that resonates with McCarthy is Willy’s duels and jousts, such as in Richard II. The idea is that God would choose the righteous among disputants to be victorious. Obviously that sounds quite like the judge’s war speech, but I was unaware that this was a “thing”, that people at any point actually did or believed this. Turns out they did, and turns out it was rather widespread:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_ordeal

    Who knew? Not I.


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    12 Dec 2014 at 10:48 am #6132

    Mike
    Member

    Ed,

    Richard II is one of the 4 or 5 Shakespeare plays that I have not read… yet. However, I do have $5 copy from Moe’s sitting on my shelf. List some of the Acts,scenes where this stuff goes down.

    Some other teachers(yes, ones that read) and myself will be having a few beers at Drake’s in San Leandro today around 5. C’mon out, 880 traffic shouldn’t be too bad due to the wet weather(the roads aren’t bad). People in CA stay in the house when the sun isn’t out…

    Mike


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