McCarthy and the Bible

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  • 08 Apr 2012 at 1:20 pm #749

    Candy Minx
    Member

    Clement you said “The terms are not set by you, McCarthy, or Hitchens or Dawkins or anyone else. There is only the recognition that this is true or denial, the latter of which is a culture killer. ”

    That is exactly my reaction. I am not setting terms..i am reacting to the terms set in the article. And reacting to the terms Aden has set here. I absolutely agree that the setting of terms…any terms actually is a culture killer. My diametric opposition to Adens posts here…for years now…is that his presented ideals are culture killers. I suggest the same to the article and Alter…i don’t think that they would “intend” such…but placing any publication of a Bible KJs or Gutenberg as essential is a culture killing ideal.

    And NOT including any book or ANY movie, painting, song, motivational speakers, cults, religions, reactionaries, poets, reality tv, is also culture killing…which is why I wrote about the culture of “authenticity” hipsters and philosophers.


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    08 Apr 2012 at 1:20 pm #750

    Marc
    Member

    I don’t think carrying a bible around that one cannot read is particularly profound thing to do or to even analyze to the extent done here. My feeling since reading that in Blood Meridian is that it is akin to carrying around a religious relic or artifact for its talismanic or protective powers. Simply the degree of force or power one invests an object with, in this case, the bible. The kid might not have been able to read it but he surely knew or was aware of its power and place it occupies in the spiritual and historical terrain.
    Chip Arnold touched on it way back, mentioning the passage in his piece, McCarthy’s Moral Parables, pg 46, Southern Quarterly 1992 that I’ve had a chance to re-read.
    After the kid has become unglued in jail and begins blithering about all manner of acts that he’s witnessed and participated in, Finally released, the kid roams for almost thirty years before he again meets the judge, this time in Fort Griffin, the “biggest town for sin in all Texas”(319), also a veritable boneyard of slaughtered buffalo. The kid is now a man, forty-five years old. During the interval, he is sometimes taken for a male whore, sometimes for a preacher since he carries a bible with him, one which he cannot read:
    I think it just is what it appears to be and something probably most of us do, perhaps even unconsciously.


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    08 Apr 2012 at 1:32 pm #753

    Candy Minx
    Member

    I’ve read Chip’s work on the topic too. and we have often talked about the kid having the Bible and not being able to read it here on the forum. But Bunny McVane and Peter really have said something here that is profound and insightful to the article that Clement linked here. And to the idea of pre-literate storytelling and the talismans of carry a book or Bible. The kid not being able to read the Bible but Peters note regarding the embedded nature of Chritianity…which Richard, clement, Marty have al said…and NOT what I take issue with…is truly insightful.

    The book of print doesn’t need to have the power in the words because of the long tradition and embedded awareness of the Judeo-christian storytelling motifs.

    And why this hasn’t occurred to me in quite this way before last night when Bunny and Peter posted here…is just hilariously wonderful its like a huge cosmic joke. I can not believe it hasn’t been written about before. Chip’s work is really insightful and cool and wise…but it does not touch on this topic in the same way as the posts last night. Part of the reason it is such a profound observation is because it opens up and supports so much of what is discussed in this whole thread here about “essential” reading and tradition. The tradition is and always will be orally based in the imagination…the printed word is one thing and wonderful…but the allusion to the whole power of oral tradition…well…

    I believe Bunny and Peter have dropped down the rabbit hole! Salute, salute!! Well done…and thank you for the wonderful peak experience I’ve been having pondering this last night…and the implications it opens for further discussions and work.


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    08 Apr 2012 at 2:30 pm #757

    Candy Minx
    Member

    BRUCE HOOD
    Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the ExperimentalPsychology Department at the University of Bristol; Author,
    Supersense

    Haecceity

    Understanding the concept of haecceity would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit because it succinctly captures most people’s intuitions about authenticity that are increasingly threatened by the development of new technologies. Cloning, genetic modification and even digital reproduction are some examplesof new innovations that alarm many members of the public because they appear to violate a belief in the integrity of objects. Haecceity is originally a metaphysical concept that is both totally obscure and yet very familiar to all of us. It is the psychological attribution of an unobservableproperty to an object that makes it unique among identical copies. All objectsmay be categorized into groups on the basis of some shared property but anobject within a category is unique by virtual of its haecceity. It is haecceity thatmakes your wedding ring authentic and your spouse irreplaceable, even thoughsuch things could be copied exactly in a futuristic science fiction world wherematter duplication had been solved.

    Haecceity also explains why you can gradually replace every atom in an object sothat it not longer contains any of the original material and yet psychologically, weconsider it to be the same object. That transformation can be total but so long as ithas been gradual, we consider it to be the same thing. It is haecceity that enablesus to accept restoration of valuable works of art and antiquities as a continuousprocess of rejuvenation. Even when we discover that we replace most of thecellular structures of our bodies every couple of decades, haecceity enables us toconsider the continuity of our own unique self.Haecceity is an intellectually challenging concept attributable to the medievalScottish philosopher, John Duns Scotus, who ironically is also the origin of theterm for the intellectually challenged, “dunces.” Duns Scotus coined haecceity toaddress the confusion in Greek metaphysics between the invisible property thatdefines the individual, as opposed to “quiddity” which is the unique property thatdefines the group.

    Today, both haecceity and quiddity have been subsumed under the more recognizable term, “essentialism.” Richard Dawkins has recently called essentialism, “the dead hand of Plato,” because, as he points out, a intuitive belief in distinct identities is a major impediment to accepting the reality that all diverselife forms have a common biological ancestry. However drawing the distinctionwithin essentialism is important. For example, it is probably intuitive quidditythat makes some people unhappy about genetic modification because they seethis as a violation of integrity of the species as a group. On the other hand it is intuitive haecceity that forms our barrier to cloning, where the authenticity of theindividual is compromised. By reintroducing haecceity as a scientific concept, albeit one that captures apsychological construct, we can avoid the confusion over using the lessconstrained term of essentialism that is applied to hidden properties that defineboth the group and the individual identity. It also provides a term for that gutfeeling that many of us have when the identity and integrity of objects we valueare threatened and we can’t find the word for describing our concerns.

    From here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/47413560/140/TIMO-HANNAY


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    08 Apr 2012 at 10:30 pm #765

    Bunny McVane
    Member

    I’ve always wondered where that idea about love and fear came from. I remember first being exposed to it in David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion:

    “Nor however is it strictly true that the analyst had nothing interesting to say or that he didn’t sometimes provide helpful models or angles for looking at the basic problem. For instance, it turned out that one of his basic operating premises was the claim that there were really only two basic, fundamental orientations a person could have toward the world, (1) love and (2) fear, and that they couldn’t coexist (or, in logical terms, that their domains were exhaustive and mutually exclusive, or that their two sets had no intersection but their union comprised all possible elements, or that . . . meaning in other words that each day of your life was spent in service to one of these masters or the other, and ‘One cannot serve two masters’ — the Bible again — and that one of the worst things about the conception of competitive, achievement-oriented masculinity that America supposedly hardwired into its males was that it caused a more or less constant state of fear that made genuine love next to impossible.” (164) “Good Old Neon” <– one of my favorites

    Perhaps this is not apropos, but I was excited to see this love/fear thing as it is something that I think about a lot.


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    09 Apr 2012 at 12:05 am #766

    Candy Minx
    Member

    I think that quote is very appropriate to this topic. And i think so partly to do with the essay on haeceity…the fear of someone contesting what we think we know about the world. Say…the Bible being essential reading. When we are outraged or angry at someone both Vansant and Foster Wallace’s quote is you trace an emotion like anger back through your mind and heart…and you will arrive at fear.

    Besides going “off topic” sometimes offers up all kinds of yummy trains of thought.

    As for the masculine aspect of the excerpt…it reminded me of this one by Gore Vidal:

    ‎”The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric bronze age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – god is the omnipotent father – hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates…I now favour an all-out war on the monotheists.”


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    14 Apr 2012 at 8:01 pm #844

    Glass
    Member

    All the young dudes carry the News.

    Candy, Clem, Laurie: Thanks for the positive comments regarding my note on the kid and his Bible. I’ve been pursuing the Romans resonance in this part of the book a little more and really like how Romans 10:15 works/connects here with the kid’s actions and the words such as news and tidings McCarthy chooses to use.

    And the feet! Cannot forget the feet!

    The line from Romans 10:15 — “how beautiful are the feet” — is interesting to consider in the context of the kid — unshod, discalced for a time — and in other episodes in McCarthy. The members of the troubled sect the kid follows in this part of the book are described as barefoot, for instance, and in the dream/dreamer scene in COTP that is similar to the BM scene, the dreamer wants to see the feet of the ritualists but cannot because they are veiled by robes.

    Would be a fun exercise to look at other places in McCarthy when there are encounters with religious/spiritual folk and see what comments, if any, are made about the feet.

    Link to Romans 10:15 http://bible.cc/romans/10-15.htm

    Interesting the kid is literally carrying the (Good) News/Glad Tidings but doesn’t feel like sharing any news at all. No prophet or evangelizer he.


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    14 Apr 2012 at 8:34 pm #847

    Glass
    Member

    Tried to edit/add to the above post but got lost in that process and it didn’t take and now have lost the ability to fix/add as Greg mentioned on another thread. Part of this problem is on my part and trying to compose in such a small space. Will be curious if this will be better when I get my new PC this week and post (and save old threads) from there.

    Anyway, I was only going to add a note about reading Karl Barth’s book of commentary/insight on Romans (Epistle to the Romans) and how nicely similar is his language/phrasing about an intersection of the worlds and that of Tobin’s at the volcano when the ex-priest says that somewhere in the scheme of things this world must touch the other. The underpass wiseman in COTP says a similar thing.

    “The relation between us and God, between this world and His world presses for recognition, but the line of intersection is not self-evident,” writes Barth.

    Meridians. Intersections. Crossings.

    (Found place to make edits. Trying to figure out how to save changes and repost. Maybe Update.)


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    14 Apr 2012 at 9:32 pm #849

    Glass
    Member

    Clem, that amplification is excellent. Wish I’d thought of that connection to TSL. The idea that we are or are not innately good is an important theme. As to your note about the conjuring of the judge after the kid kills Elrod, I thought of the ex-Mormon in TC telling Billy that he thought “there might be evidence of something suitably unspeakable such that He might be goaded into raising his hand against it.” I’m wondering if McCarthy is twisting this around and putting the judge in this place where the ex-Mormon wants to see God.

    Last thought on the talismans carried by the kid: the ears are Flesh, the Bible the Word. Little twist on Word made flesh. Or something.

    PS: Anyone written about McCarthy in relation to Aristotle’s concept of hylomorphism? Would love to see someone go with that, make some big claims.


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    15 Apr 2012 at 4:41 pm #879

    Candy Minx
    Member

    I also think the idea explored of humans not being innately good is an important theme. As is the theme of if we are innately bad. These polarized views are too limited. I think the belief that sacred texts, for this topic the Bible, being essential is too limited as well.

    Beyond many animals acting on the concept of cause and effect or “do unto others as you would have done onto you” is what makes human understanding of that precept, and law of social life really interesting?this goes way further back than Bible, or stories and texts we are familiar with now.

    Here is something deliciously fun from E. O. Wilson….especially good for pollyannas and misanthropes alike…

    “why is a protected nest so important? Because members of the group are forced to come together there. Required to explore and forage away from the nest they must also return. Chimpanzees and bonobos occupy and defend territories, but wander through them while searching for food. The same was probably true of the Australopithecus and habiline ancestors of man. Chimps and bonobos alternatively break into subgroups and re-aggregate. They advertise the discovery of fruit-laden trees by calling back and forth but do not share the fruit they pick. They occasionally hunt in small packs. Successful members of the pack share the meat among their fellow hunters, but charity mostly comes to an end there. Of greatest importance, the apes have no campfire around which to gather.

    Carnivores at campsites are forced to behave in ways not needed by wanderers in the field. They must divide labor: some forage and hunt, others guard the campsite and young. They must share food, both vegetable and animal, in ways that are acceptable to all. Otherwise the bonds that bind them will weaken. Further, the group members inevitably compete with one another, for status of a larger share of food, for access to an available mate, and for a comfortable sleeping place. All of these pressures confer an advantage on those able to read the intensional of others, grow in the ability to gain trust and alliance, and manage rivals. Social intelligence was therefore always at a high premium. A sharp sense of empathy can make a huge difference, and with it an ability to manipulate, to gain cooperation, and to deceive. To put the matter as simply as possible, it pays to be socially smart. Without doubt, a group of smart prehumans could defeat and displace a group of dumb, ignorant per humans as true then as it is today for armies, corporations and football teams.

    The cohesion forced by the concentration of groups to protected sites was more than just a step through the evolutionary maze. It was, as I will later elaborate later, the event that launched the final drive to modern Homo sapiens.”


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