Blood Meridian and the Postmodern Dilemma

Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian has been the object of effusive praise in the 30 or so years since its first appearance. It has been praised for its language, its ultraviolent plot, and its "symbolism" [note: "symbolic," in the lexicon of contemporary criticism, appears to mean something between "ham-fisted" and "vaguely evocative."]. It is taught in American literature courses at our top universities, and leading Hollywood directors have expressed interest in bringing it to the silver screen. So it almost goes without saying that the novel is pure trash. Trevor Lynch's dismissal of the The Road, a cinematic adaptation of another McCarthy novel, adequately sums up the situation: "The Road is an unremitting downer with no redeeming dramatic or artistic value… Intellectual poseurs will claim that it is thought-provoking, but it is really just perplexing."

The novel's success, as well as its style and general themes, serve us as an instructive object lesson in postmodernism and Jewish taste in art.

Blood Meridian centers around the wanderings and misadventures of The Kid, a 14-year old runaway from Tennessee, who ends up falling in with a gang of murderers, thieves and perverts led by one Glanton. The Glanton gang, which apparently did exist in some form or another according to contemporary scandal-sheet history, is hired by Mexican authorities to hunt down beastial Apaches. Of course, the White Man proves himself to be an even harsher bane to the peaceful people of North America's premier failed state, and the reader is treated to many, many descriptions of massacres, crimes against military personnel, crimes by military personnel, crimes against civilians, scalpings, rapes, murders of all kinds; death by hatchet, death by revolver, by rifle, by shotgun and sword, by bow and arrow, by broken glass, by heat exhaustion, by hanging; quick deaths, slow deaths; child abuse (both sexual and nonsexual) and public drunkenness. Eventually, tensions develop within the Glanton gang, and after a catastrophic run-in with the Yuma Indians, they are all killed or scattered to the winds. During all this a certain rivalry develops between The Kid and the best-developed character—or, better said, the only other character developed at all—Judge Holden. At novel's end, the Judge does something unspeakably evil to The Kid, for some reason, and the whole affair concludes with an epilogue for the annals of pretentious, nonsensical, faux-poetic writing, which has nothing in the slightest to do with any of the preceding 250 pages of overwrought garbage.

But of course, the reason, we are told, for the novel's superlative status is its writing. "Blood Meridian, it seems to me, is the single greatest aesthetic accomplishment of any living writer," Harold Bloom informs us. Bloom, by the way, is a Jewish professor at Yale who has made a career essentially concern-trolling actual conservatives in the old Max Nordau style: co-opting conservative points to head off any actual change within the direction of academia. Aesthetic merit is there for all to see. It doesn't take any special training, any "art appreciation" courses, to notice and enjoy beauty. Whether in painting, music, or literature, aesthetic achievements are accessible to all, though they can be better enjoyed by those aware of context, meaning and purpose. Go read Wordsworth's Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, or spend a few minutes contemplating the intriguing, mysterious otherworld in the background of all of Leonardo's works. Contemporary painting is not accessible, because accessibility would be popular, and thus consumable, and artists like to make anti-consumerist statements. Or so goes their own logic… the reality, of course, is that promotion and funding of the arts is entirely in the hands of the Jew, and it pleases him to alienate gentiles from art. Art is the way man relates himself to inner and outer nature, and to be alienated from one's society's own art is to be denied the mechanism toward communion with nature, one of the most profound spiritual experiences available to the Aryan man. Thus Jewish and Jew-promoted high art cloaks itself in confounding, contradictory "theory", ugliness and higher and higher cost, while Jewish low art, which serves a purely propagandistic function, is hyper-accessible, devoid of deep meaning and increasingly worthless, literally and figuratively.

Blood Meridian is about dirty violent men doing dirty violent things, and as such it is essentially the up-market version of an HBO pornography series. In either case, violence, "gritty reality" and sex dominate a "world of gray". This latter concept is the great hobby-horse of all postmodernists, low-, middle- and highbrow, who love to pontificate on the "complexity" of the universe and the lack of ready distinctions between good and evil, black and white, profundity and insanity, etc.

The problem with this line of thinking is ideological. A decent society needs moral norms and moral authority. Postmodern society is based on a systematic tunneling under of every previous Western system. We now live in a world of irony and cynicism, and it is fair to say that while we children of the age thrive in such an environment—and our coming final victory in the meme war is proof of that—we do not want this to be the moral atmosphere our children and grandchildren grow up in. Art that is nothing but a trawl through the underbelly of vice and our lower nature has no place in the world we are building.

John Banville, a suspiciously hooknosed Irish writer, gushes that Blood Meridian "reads like a conflation of the Inferno, the Iliad, and Moby-Dick… an extraordinary, breathtaking achievement." The connection with Moby-Dick is echoed by Michael Herr: "McCarthy can only be compared with our greatest writers, with Melville and Faulkner." The comparison with Faulkner is actually spot-on, another hack nihilist elevated to celestial heights by Jewish critics, but Melville? Dante?

What makes Dante's Divine Comedy such a terrific achievement is its depth of meaning. It has value as a work of poetry, theology, and philosophy, and not only value but extraordinary value in all three areas. Two-thirds of the Comedy takes place in Heaven and Purgatory: the existence of the former is presently denied, and the latter is now an insult to human dignity. The only portion widely read or discussed is the Inferno, the journey through Hell. Yes, Dante and Virgil pass by a seemingly unending procession of filth and wretchedness. Only in this is there a similarity with McCarthy's work. Dante remains rooted to God throughout, and constantly refers to Him and the greater Truth beyond the torments of Hell. There is no sense of resignation in Dante, no exaltation of ugliness or sin. Dante is a fundamentally moral thinker pointing us toward virtue.

Melville also gives us a novel with overriding moral concerns. Moby-Dick is, on one level, a moral allegory about the dangers of being consumed by the desire for vengeance, and a complex allegory at that, written with all the deep feeling of a man who has clearly felt the need for vengeance, and with none of the trite faggotry of modern "anti-hate" propaganda.

Great literature relates itself to virtue and righteousness, always and in all times. Blood Meridian is devoid of virtue and righteousness, except where such things appear accidentally. The problem with it is that there is nothing heroic, there is nothing redeeming, nothing good happens in the entire novel. There is no moral point made in Blood Meridian.

I have said that the great postmodern idea is the world of gray, where good and evil do not exist. However, this is contrary to nature, to reality and to human experience. The artist needs to feel great emotions, and to feel himself a participant in a superhuman pageant. A world of bylaws might appeal to the Talmudist, but it is anathema to the creative soul. Because of this, the postmodern author cannot actually maintain the world of gray, and he inevitably must add a firm, cosmic, archetypal element. Not, unfortunately, a ray of light from above, but a shadow out of the abyss. And so we have the character of Judge Holden.

This character has absorbed the vast amount of critical attention, being arguably the only well-developed character in the novel. He is 7 feet tall, enormously strong, and perfectly pale and hairless. He is an excellent marksman, draftsman, orator and dancer, and an expert in biology, history, jurisprudence and seemingly every other aspect of man's endeavors. He is strongly hinted to be a violator and murderer of children. Judge Holden is, in a word, Satan. He is pure evil, darkest black, no gray, and following the stylistic rules of postmodernism, he must be all powerful. I am reminded of Ezra Pound's criticism of Milton. He objected to Milton's course morality and boneheaded theology, and further pointed out that he wrote Satan in such a compelling way that later readers construed him to be the hero of the poem, making it utterly pointless and mitigating any point Milton had been trying to make.

This is the secret of postmodernism and the world we live in: the superficial promotion of ever more complicated justifications of moral relativity, while at the same time the implicit admission that the earth is the Devil's own, that is, entirely given over to those forces which our ancestors were pleased to attribute to a sort of prior, ontological evil.

So McCarthy makes the Judge a genius in all realms, all-powerful, capable of besting any man in combat, of finding water in the desert, of making gunpowder out of sand, capable of any feat imaginable; makes him the embodiment of violence and war (the judge gives a memorable speech that "war is god"). This is the problem with postmodernists. They want to feel like they are being gray, that they don't believe in "black and white", that the are "inhabiting the liminal spaces" as they would say, but it's absolutely untrue. They take something that actually is liminal, that actually is gray, like war, which can be used for good or evil and is itself beyond either, and they put a defense of it in the mouth of a child rapist, and make him invincible. Because they have to. Because they are declaring war on human nature, they are declaring war on things that are. And because of their inclination toward the perverse they depict the world as it is not, as a land of horror and terror—and this isn't true, and lacks all of the nuance they worship in the first place. This is not constructive. It is useless art, civilizationally speaking.

In the end, aesthetic considerations can't surpass societal considerations. A critique of the style of Blood Meridian is unnecessary here, but because this has been the most remarked-upon element of the novel, we owe it a word. Blood Meridian reads like a thesaurus. The subtitle The Evening Redness In The West might just as well be All the Words that I Know. Opening pages at random we find immediately: "entablatures," "lemniscate," "revetment," "holothurian," "charivari" and hundreds more. What purpose could this possibly serve that isn't self-congratulatory? I'll close with a quote that illustrates the "aesthetic" quality of McCarthy's prose, which has made him the apple of the Jewish critic's eye:

“They rode on and the sun in the east flushed pale streaks of light and then a deeper run of color like blood seeping up in sudden reaches flaring planewise and where the earth drained up into the sky at the edge of creation the top of the sun rose out of nothing like the head of a great red phallus until it cleared the unseen rim and sat squat and pulsing and malevolent behind them.”