the book reviews
Some of my ancestors were Texas Cherokees. Their story is tragic. They were used to help secure the new republic and then massacred at the Battle of The Neches. Their chief, Bowles, was shot in the leg and the back. He was shot in the head. He sat on the battlefield and sang his death chant. Texas soldiers took pieces of skin from his corpse and made souvenir reins. His body was not buried. The survivors were hunted. A second massacre occurred six months later in central Texas, near San Saba. The son of Chief Bowles was killed. The survivors were pursued into Mexico, where they were robbed of their clothing. Finally, the group, less than ten naked souls, were forced to sign a peace treaty with the Republic of Texas, when they re-entered Texas. Recently, one of my relatives in Texas, sent me the results of some genealogical research that he had been doing. I began to read the accomplishments of another relative who was a founding father of Texas. I glowed with pride. I read more and I became furious, horribly saddened, and confused. This relative had been one of the commanding officers at the Battle of The Neches! I cannot adequately describe those feelings. It was a great catalyst for the development of my spirit. The book under review, Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, is such a catalyst. The book seizes your attention, like a dog throttles a rabbit. It is the most violent piece of literature I have read. But there is no narrator who is more gifted. McCarthy writes exactly the right words, many of which are archaic, and he invents words. I salute his mastery of the English language. He is like an American Baudelaire. Cormac's ability to describe horror and violence has no equal. Someone has to describe evil and decay. In order to give meaning to beauty. The book reveals the false mythology of the West, and it removes the glory. The white settlers in America and the natives they encountered, projected their respective fears upon each other. Atrocities occurred. There is a fire that tests the souls of men. It is omnipresent. It is known by many names. When we have total power over another being, we are tested. We can act with absolute impunity. The fire is the incarnation of these moments. The fire is eternal. It is easy for people to be good when they do not possess power. They are not tested often against their own species. Lack of power does not guarantee nobility. Everyone is tempted. Religion does not adequately explain this problem. It is important to perceive the cycle of life. This perception provides the wisdom to resist evil. This perception was very poorly integrated into the consciousness of modern people. This was a cultural difference between the settlers and the aboriginal people that they encountered. This perception is void in much of the North American mindset. I am talking about the difference between wisdom and intelligence. Lucifer is intelligent. Intelligent man dissects everything and tries to enrich himself from the knowledge. Wisdom is quite different. Wisdom works with a complete circle. Wisdom utilized herds of buffalo for tens of thousands of years. Wisdom provided food, housing and clothing for many people. Intelligence annihilated the species and became rich from the sale of skins, tongues and bones. Intelligence destroyed the cultures that were dependent upon the buffalo. Brilliant! The American experience: A group of people go to a new place where they have technological supremacy. The horse of the Spanish and the revolver of the Americans. In a lawless environment, they are tested. They are frightened, ignorant and aggressive. They are easily manipulated. The mind of a crowd is equal to that of the lowest individual in the crowd. The "Blood Meridian" is an invisible wave. It is composed of ignorance, fear, and aggression. The wave is manipulated by evil people. After the conquest, it flows into the psyches of the population. It is incubated within the herd. With advanced technology, it brings rape and ruin onto distant shores. Civilizations are built upon this bloody landscape. People need to read this book. Particularly North Americans. I hope they understand it. Many people who possess wisdom are being subjected to genocide. The story must be written. There is a risk that people are not ready to grasp its meaning. A certain segment of society might embrace it as a vindication of violence. Wrong, but likely. Blood Meridian is apocalyptic. It is based on true events. McCarthy does not attempt to analyze the characters. He describes their deeds and allows the reader to ponder difficult themes. The story tells of a group of mercenaries in Texas who sell Apache scalps. The main character is a teen who has become involved in this macabre circus. There is another enigmatic character. Judge Holden. The Judge represents the fire that I spoke of earlier. The fire that tries the souls of men. This is a book you want to discuss with your friends.
Copyright © 2019 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.