Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

Read in Laos, on the heels of No Country for Old Men. This is incomparable stuff, a dense and vivid depiction of the original sin behind the American Dream: absolutely craven violence and money lust.
I can’t believe I never read this before, having already read McCarthy’s Border Trilogy. This is his most essential work.
An excerpt, using the author’s punctuation:
The judge wrote on and then he folded the ledger shut and laid it to one side and pressed his hands together and passed them down over his nose and mouth and placed them palm down on his knees.
Whatever exists, he said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.
He looked about at the dark forest in which they were bivouacked. He nodded toward the specimens he’d collected. These anonymous creatures, he said, may seem little or nothing in the world. Yet the smallest crumb can devour us. Any smallest thing beneath yon rock out of men’s knowing. Only nature can enslave man and only then the existence of each last entity is routed out and made to stand naked before him will he be properly suzerain of the earth.
What’s a suzerain?
A keeper. A keeper or overlord.
Why not say keeper then?
Because he is a special kind of keeper. A suzerain rules even where there are other rulers. His authority countermands local judgments.
Toadvine spat.
The judge placed his hands on the ground. He looked at his inquisitor. This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.
Toadvine sat with his boots crossed before the fire. No man can acquaint himself with everyting on this earth, he said.
The judge titled his great head. The man who believes the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to disctate the terms of his own fate.
I dont see what that has to do with catchin birds.
The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I’d have them all in zoos.
That would be a hell of a zoo.
The judge smiled. Yes, he said. Even so.

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