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'In Disgust'
Crackpot Mailbox: Banjo and James Discuss Sissy Literary Sensibilities
Glanton's Filibusters and Ahab under the Microscope
6:59 AM (6 hours ago)
I was wondering if Blood Meridian would become part of the Western Canon and came across Bloom expounding both upon the story, its place in the Western Canon and a nod to Moby Dick. As you are reading Melville's tome I thought you might find the article of interest.
Time in life is limited, but surely and God willing I will reread the Illiad. And surely I will do the same with Blood Meridian. Of the rest is a flip of the coin.
Thanks, Banjo.
Below are the passages that inform us that the literary critic is not the shaman of a questing tribe, not the luminary mirror of high civilization, not even a man by any traditional conception, but rather the curator of a morgue of the human spirit, a shepherd of soulless ghosts who can conceive only of weakness as a virtue:
"I teach the book, many of my students resist it initially (as I did, and as some of my friends continue to do). Television saturates us with actual as well as imagined violence, and I turn away, either in shock or in disgust.
"But I cannot turn away from Blood Meridian, now that I know how to read it, and why it has to be read. None of its carnage is gratuitous or redundant; it belonged to the Mexico-Texas borderlands in 1849 and 50, which is where and when most of the novel is set. I suppose one could call Blood Meridian a “historical novel,” since it chronicles the actual expedition of the Glanton gang, a murderous paramilitary force sent out by both Mexican and Texan authorities to murder and scalp as many Indians as possible. Yet it does not have the aura of historical fiction, since what it depicts seethes on, in the United States, and nearly everywhere else, in this third millennium. Judge Holden, the prophet of war, is unlikely to be without honor in our years to come.
"Even as you learn to endure the slaughter McCarthy describes, you become accustomed to the book’s high style, again as overtly Shakespearean as it is Faulknerian. There are passages of Melvillean-Faulknerian baroque richness and intensity in The Crying of Lot 49, and elsewhere in Pynchon, but we can never be sure that they are not parodistic..."
What this sissy does not mention, because he probably does not know, being an academic, is that Scalp Hunting on the Mexican-American border was done mostly on the Mexican side and very often by Amerindians, for instance an entire band of Shawnee who were ironically scalped in their turn! Yes, it was horrible, but it was a three-way horror show, not the delusional duality suggested in this article. That though, is a minor point.
The three major points are this, and are largely missed by the literary critic, who seems to find value mostly in reflections of earlier literature, not seeming to realize that the earliest literature came from poems extolling such actions as committed by the Glanton gang, attributed to Achilles and Beowulf for instance.
-1. Without violence we are nothing. Brutality, war, the hunt, even genocide, have literally defined us since the dawn of our kind and to devolve to the point where we either turn away in disgust or fixate in perverse bloodlust—these two reactions being the night face and day face of the degenerate society—is to become more domesticated than human, to slip into the long dream that seeks only softer pillows and longer sleeps rather than more meaningful sorrows and sharper, waking tomorrows.
-2. That his being drawn like a magnet to this novel that bathes him in disgust is a refutation of his worldview.
-3. That the cyclic nature of human sorrow decrees that the doers shall become the done, and that evil orbits us like a moon magnetized for eclipse between us and the goodness of the sun. The very same borderlands that are the subject of this novel are much more dangerous now, with more Amerindians being slaughtered every month in Mexico than in any given year of the 1800s. And, also that Amerindian [admittedly Mestizo mixed bloods] are facilitating the genocide through opiates—with the cooperation of Mexican and U.S. governments—of Pale Americans with more definitive results than the Galtons and their ilk achieved a generation before Cochise and Geronimo fought both nations to a standstill until enough Apaches joined the government gang to push them off their lands. The delusional view of what is happening in the American West today prevents this Bloom character from appreciating his subject as a pertinent parable for today.
It is amazing that modern academics can read Shakespeare without understanding that his genius was shaped by the sorrows of his brutal times, and read his modern equivalent without wondering at his view of his own times. But that is the power of the fold, the flock, the herd, the hive that turns us into ciphers of fear and disciples of comfort pining for the end of those trials that made our ancestors who they were, which is why we are taught to hate our ancestors. If this Bloom character read Ernst Junger his mind would melt. That said, the fact that such a bloody work can compel a shepherd of the post-human herd to prod his bleating charges with its messages marks off the hope we have of communicating culture and reality to future generations, through and pst the current filters—fiction, stories of gripping quality.
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