Friday, December 11, 2009

Gnosticism in Blood Meridian

Daugherty, Leo. “Gravers False and True: Blood Meridian as Gnostic Tragedy.” Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy. Ed. Edwin T. Arnold and Dianne C. Luce. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson, 1993. 157-172

In Leo Daugherty’s contribution to Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy he argues that “gnostic thought is central to Blood Meridian(157)". He discusses how gnostic thought and McCarthy’s reproduction of it can be used to explain or at least understand the characters and “the particular sort of world they inhabit(157)". In order to explain gnosticism Daugherty spends several pages discussing the ideas history and finally resting on the generally accepted understanding of gnosticism: “So, whereas most thoughtful people have looked at the world they lived in and asked, How did evil get into it?, the Gnostics looked at the world and asked, How did good get into it? . . . They saw it as something so big that “evil” is not really and applicable term - because it is too small. For them, evil was simply everything that is, with the exception of the bits of spirit imprisoned here. And what they saw is what we see in the world of Blood Meridian. He discusses the Judge, the Kid, the Graver, and the man in the epilogue, and from them he extracts themes of gnostic thought with the Judge being the embodiment of the terms true understanding. As for the Kid, Daugherty says; “Blood Meridian centers up what can be reasonably thought of as a fraternity of male shepherds who kill the sheep entrusted to them. One of the shepherds is the kid, who feels the “spark of the alien divine” within him through the call of what seems to be conscience(162)".

Daughtery’s understanding and position that Gnostic thoughts is central to the world and characters in Blood Meridian provides a great deal of insight and perhaps a possible explanation for the rhetoric of the Judge and the Kid. His idea that the “in Blood Meridian, the Earth is the judge’s. Even so, on our own evil planet Judge Holden’s power is not yet complete, since his will is not yet fulfilled in its passion for total domination(161).” provides an explanation at least for the Judge who acts a lost or broken soul searching for completion. As for understanding the Kid, Daughtery offers this; “He thus “awakens” a bit, attaining in the process a will outside the will of his murdering shepherdic subculture and the archon who runs it (the Judge). . . .The kid has “awakened,” but he is not progressed sufficiently in wisdom much beyond mere awakening and thus has no chance at survival, much less at the victory of Gnostic liberation(163)". Understanding Daughtery’s position, whether one agrees with it or not, can be very helpful to understanding the relationship shared between the kid and the judge, and the similarities and differences in their philosophies and rhetoric.

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