Jim and I talked about Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian this morning. We have had a lot of fun with discussions like this, going back to the Bavafest and Wire106. The talk ranged from history to mythos, past to present, Lovecraft to Nietszche to Kafka to Westerns. Towards the end, Jim asks, “So which of us wants to sum up Blood Meridian?” I don’t think we can, since we spent an hour and a half on a half dozen or so two-minute quotes. I should do a follow-up post, but I wanted to get this out there now.
There’s the myth of the West, the west that defines America and made American democracy. The concept of Manifest Destiny was articulated by John L. O’Sullivan back in 1839, in language that would not be out of place in McCarthy’s book. I suppose the traditional Western, with its good guys and bad guys and the right guys always winning in the end, comes out of that myth. But that became recognized as a myth, and we had the revisionist Westerns, which are now considered iconic of the genre. And then we have this book, putting a nail in the myth’s coffin and a stake through its heart. And that’s putting it lightly.