The nihilism in McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is ever present, and it’s not that shallow, quick nihilism you might be used to. This shit is deep. The above quote could be seen as a description of what became of the original owners of the American land. Total death. Read more about that here.
As the gang rides – like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but more of them – the world opens up showing its most grim and vile side. And in this world, the gang only live to kill, or rather: to kill before they are killed. McCarthy once said in an interview that he’s not particularly interested in books that don’t deal with issues of life and death. One commentary said: ”But his books are only about death, never about life”. I’d say it’s quite the opposite. Or rather: life is death. As simple as that. And McCarthy is the master of storytelling it in a beautiful and haunting way.
His visions are morbid, yet so full of beauty. They tell us things of utmost importance, things about life and how we are. He encompasses the brutal and more base elements of human nature, skipping the newspaper politics altogether, and still manages to convey a message: There won’t ever be a John Wayne type of character coming to the rescue. This is not the romantic West. This is the real deal, this is the brutal truth.
And the truth reads like the Old Testament, both in its biblical rhetoric and its doom-like message about the void, Satan (Judge Holden) and the slaughtering of innocence. This is pretty far from good versus evil – this is evil versus even more evil. And that’s what the Old Testament and this world is all about, right? Right.
People speak of The Great American Novel. Well, thinking of how America is portayed in Blood Meridian, it sure is stunning and beautiful in its descriptions of the lawless West, but as for the people and the nihilism and misanthropy ruling the souls of the gang… Here is no peace. And in that sense, this is more like The Great Anti-American Novel.
To be continued in part three…