The End of Blood Meridian

This topic contains 36 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  efscerbo 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • 01 Jun 2017 at 10:26 am #9487

    Clement
    Member

    It is also a mistake, I think, to view the Kid as someone who is making some sort of Pilgrim’s Progress. Elrod knew he was a fake. This was why he had to die. The scapular of ears, the bible of which he could not read a word – the latter especially a revelation in self-deception…


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    01 Jun 2017 at 10:31 am #9488

    Clement
    Member

    More precisely, Elrod is the Judge’s witness against the Kid. Lot’s of mimetic doubling – the kid orchestrated the event of killing Elrod, while the Judge orchestrated the even of killing the Kid.


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    01 Jun 2017 at 2:19 pm #9490

    efscerbo
    Member

    Gotta say, I’m pretty solidly on the side of mcatherine here. I have no real attachment to the idea of the man raping the little girl, but I’m pretty damn opposed to the idea of the judge killing the man in the jakes. That always seemed ridiculous to me. First, it seems a major letdown thematically, pace mother_he’s claim that “this would be a demerit to McCarthy’s technique.” So, what, the judge was just toying all those years with the kid, figuring he’d kill him later? The idea that the judge kills the man makes nothing of why the kid survives the Yuma massacre, why he doesn’t shoot the judge in the desert, why he wanders for something like 28 years before winding up in Fort Griffin, why he murders Elrod. Infinitely better, in my opinion, is the notion that the kid has all along been “a thing already accomplished” (322) as far as the judge is concerned, that he does the judge’s will whether he knows it or not, that he “seeks his own destiny and no other […] Will or nill.” (344) That he dances his part without even realizing he’s part of the dance, that the judge will use him to his own ends and there’s nothing he can do about it. Just like Krishna tells Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, 18.59-61,

    “If you egotistically say, “I will not fight this battle,” your resolve will be useless; your own nature will drive you into it. Your own karma, born of your own nature, will drive you to do even that which you do not wish to do, because of your delusion. The Lord dwells in the hearts of all creatures and whirls them round upon the wheel of maya.”

    Also, reading the judge as killing the man makes nothing of the myriad details in that last chapter. Nothing of the missing girl, of the bear or the sense in which its killing is “[t]he overture” for “[a]n event, a ceremony” (342), of the whore or the fact that she’s a dwarf, of “[t]he man who was relieving himself” (347). Also, given the fact that the nature of reality and the extent to which it is objective as opposed to dependent on a witness is a massive theme throughout McCarthy’s works, it would be entirely appropriate to have a major event for which there is no observer.

    I made a big, big deal about this years ago in http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/topic/the-end-of-bm-a-reading/. I no longer stand by everything I wrote there, as my take on BM and McCarthy in general has gotten increasingly fragmented and nuanced. But I still say that the judge killing the man is, to me, entirely unsatisfactory. But I would be genuinely interested if someone could make a real case for it, other than “it’s obvious and that’s what people have been assuming for the last 20 years”. If someone could write something up that takes into account details from that chapter, thematic strains from the rest of BM and other of McCarthy’s books, I’d be all ears. But without that, I find that reading very facile.


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    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  efscerbo.
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    01 Jun 2017 at 2:33 pm #9491

    efscerbo
    Member

    I also agree with Clement that it is an “interpretative flaw to call Elrod murderous.” Recall the whole “Han shot first” thing in Chapter 23: In older editions of BM, we’re told “The boy swung with the rifle and fired”, but in the 25th anniversary edition, we have “The boy swung with the rifle and HE fired.” That is, in older editions, it is without doubt that Elrod shoots at the man. Which is odd, because then he’d be the only one whom we’re told fires a shot, yet he’s the one who winds up dead. In the newest edition, that is weakened, where it is syntactically possible that “he” refers to the man. This is preferable as far as I’m concerned since, as I just said, it would be weird if Elrod fired the only shot yet wound up dead.

    I definitely think it’s important the man is the aggressor, that he kills off his double (which Elrod seems clearly meant to be, cf., e.g., “They aint nobody done it yet.” (10, 335) )

    However, I also think it’s inappropriate to think murdering Elrod summons the judge, since we’re told, even before the man kills him, that the man is on his way to Fort Griffin, that “biggest town for sin in all Texas.” (332) In my opinion it’s more that the judge has summoned the man there, and killing Elrod (“Elrod” meaning “God is the king” in Hebrew) shows how the man is dancing his part in the dance.


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    01 Jun 2017 at 3:06 pm #9496

    Stiff Gravel
    Member

    I think people project onto the Judge their worst fears and prejudices. All of the incidents cited are like hearsay. There may be a case for euthansia here and there, but when I first read it, I thought “he’s the most sane bloke of the lot”: he recognises the feral barbarity and accepts it as inexorable to progress; let’s chronicle nature and the fools it carries along. He recognizes some divine providence and fortune in the kid.

    I think the paraphilia and obsession with perceived priapic deviance is wholly the invention of interpretation and cognitive bias of the reader.

    I was moved to make comparisons with bizarre perceptions of POTUS that seemed like hallucinations of willful disparagement if not cognitive dissonance.

    Personally the Judge was delighted to see the kid while he was having a dump and just embraced him in the moment. The site of the giant picking up the lad like that would have been perceived as a very peculiar sight even to the most jaded of men accepting routine cruelty such as the senseless killing and torture of the girl’s beloved pet bear. A white naked giant plucking up a young man like a sack of grain in the half dark? Horrors! Scalping living men; that’s quotadien. Why would anyone think the little girl she was raped and killed ? She just ran away. I think again this part cleverly exposes the reflex response of the reader to assume that the Judge is not an exceptionalist but just part of the horror of humanity; we assume the worst because of the canvass of atrocities on which he is painted.


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    01 Jun 2017 at 3:41 pm #9499

    Richard L.
    Member

    Nice to see so many posts here.

    Yes, the kid has only developed so far. He gives mercy to the old woman in the desert who turns out to be temporary illusory dust, like all of us, but still in the Judge’s eyes, it was mercy to the heathen.

    That he would do so is foresaged by the four of cups.

    http://trackofthecat.blogspot.com/2012/02/four-of-cups-blood-meridian-and.html

    Later he meets Elrod. As some others here suggest, it is the man meeting himself and not recognizing either the commonality in himself or the Elohim (El) in the man. (McCarthy does this a lot with his naming of characters–see TOK to THE ROAD, where the only named character is Ely). Will you stand for that man?


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    01 Jun 2017 at 4:05 pm #9500

    efscerbo
    Member

    “wholly the invention of interpretation of the reader”: What isn’t? For this is the very nature of the witness, for what could be said to occur unobserved?


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