Judge Holden as Prometheus

This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Richard L. 2 days, 6 hours ago.

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  • 25 Jan 2018 at 1:32 pm #10096

    RogerDuvall
    Member

    I am new to this group. I have browsed the topics already under discussion, but I haven’t read everything. I hope I am not reposting a topic that has been thoroughly worked over. If I have, please let me know.

    My suggestion is that, along with his other identities (Moby Dick, Satan), Judge Holden is endowed with certain attributes of Prometheus. He brings fire, in the form of gunpowder, to the Glanton gang soon after he joins them. When Prometheus gives fire to mankind, he also gives them access to civilization and culture. I don’t want to introduce another topic, but fire, another overloaded symbol, is central to what little civilization the Glanton gang exhibits. They are at their most civilized sitting around and looking into their campfire, talking, eating. The Judge, who seems to know everything, is master of European civilization–music, languages, literature, science. Now this is a stretch, but Holden’s appearance on a rock in the middle of the desert might be an allusion to Prometheus, chained to a rock by Zeus as a punishment for giving fire to mankind and thereby giving them the means to challenge the gods.

    If fire is both a blessing and a curse, just so, in Blood Meridian, is civilization. I think that is one of the most important themes is the book.


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    25 Jan 2018 at 6:29 pm #10097

    RogerDuvall
    Member

    After further research (Wikipedia) I have found that, according to some sources, Prometheus was responsible for the creation of man out of clay. Doesn’t this fit nicely with the scene in Nacadoches where the kid, completely covered in mud is knocked unconscious by Judge Holden. Then he awakes, reborn, and starts his journey westward.


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    25 Jan 2018 at 8:22 pm #10098

    Glass
    Member

    Really great observations.

    You should check out Peter Josyph’s interview with Harold Bloom in Peter’s wonderful book, Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy.

    I think it’s in this conversation that Bloom offers an interpretation similar to yours on Prometheus and Holden, so you are in good company. And maybe some commentary about Promethean themes in the Epilogue. Fascinating stuff. I think I’ll reread it this weekend.


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    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  Glass.
    26 Jan 2018 at 7:12 am #10100

    RogerDuvall
    Member

    Thanks, Glass. I will order the book now. I knew that Harold Bloom was an early champion of Blood Meridian and an expert on Prometheus. One reason I doubted that my theory held water was that I hadn’t seen where Bloom had made the connection. I am anxious to see what he has to say.


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    26 Jan 2018 at 1:50 pm #10102

    Glass
    Member

    I bet you will enjoy the book, Roger. I enjoy Peter’s writing a lot, and his keynote addresses at McCarthy conferences are pretty great as well. I’m a little hazy on it, but I think I referenced that Bloom conversation from Peter’s book in a paper I gave in San Marcos several years ago. At any rate, I liked your posts above and I hope you keep sharing your ideas here.


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    27 Jan 2018 at 10:44 am #10109

    RogerDuvall
    Member

    I had to borrow the book from the Emory University library. It is awfully expensive through Amazon. The interview with Harold Bloom is great, a real appreciation of the novel by a real scholar. I think Prometheus comes up only when Bloom tries to explain the epilogue, the figure moving westward, striking fire from the rock. I will read the other two essays on Blood Meridian before I return the book. Thanks for the tip, Glass.


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    27 Jan 2018 at 10:04 pm #10110

    Glass
    Member

    Good to hear. Great stuff on Prometheus by you.


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    28 Jan 2018 at 6:26 am #10111

    RogerDuvall
    Member

    “Prometheus” by Otto Greiner.


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    28 Jan 2018 at 8:17 am #10113

    Candy Minx
    Member

    That’s a cool painting.


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    06 Feb 2018 at 12:03 pm #10155

    Richard L.
    Member

    Well, I like the thought, but the equations have to be expanded.

    Holden=Prometheus=the Enlightenment. . .and I would expand it further, =Moby Dick=Materialism (edit: and let us not leave out the Gnostic Demiurge and the Devil).

    I recall a couple of posters who used to argue over whether Cormac McCarthy was pro-Enlightenment or anti-Enlightenment, carrying the argument into various unrelated threads and even into the threads at Readerville and the Well forum at Slate. They were like intense fencers who carried their running swordfight from stage to stage. Why gone them days?

    Anyway, if you’re going to argue that the Judge is Prometheus, then the kid, by intending to show mercy to the woman in the desert (who of course turns out to be merely sand/clay), is his brother Epimetheus. Forethought and Afterthought, these brothers were. Schlemiel and Mensch.

    The arc of McCarthy’s fiction, his writing style going from Faulkner to Hemingway to Beckett, the way animals die off novel to novel (see Willis Sanborn’s book, ANIMALS IN CORMAC MCCARTHY), the way spaces are fenced off (materially and psychologically–see Jay Ellis’s brilliant NO PLACE FOR HOME), the progressive vanishing that occurs (see Dianne Luce’s fabulous essay on this), makes me think that he is not taking sides but rather expressing his view of how existence cycles (per Vico and his buddy Plato, among others).

    And indeed, that can be read as the cycle of Prometheus, who gave fire to Man to help them survive, not knowing what mischief that fire would lead to. No wonder Zeus laughed.


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