Sam Breed

Product Developer, Investor

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Cormac McCarthy

First posted on

Some highlights from Blood Meridian

If much in the world were mystery the limits of that world were not, for it was without measure or bound and there were contained within it creatures more horrible yet and men of other colors and beings which no man has looked upon and yet not alien non of it more than were their won hearts alien in them, whatever wilderness contained there and whatever beats.

The crumpled butcherpaper mountains lay in sharp shadowfold under the long blue dusk and in the middle distance the glazed bed of a dry lake lay shimmering like the mare imbrium and herds of deer were moving northing in the last of the twilight, harried over the plan by wolves who were themselves the color of the desert floor.

If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he not have done so by now?

Under a gibbous moon horse and rider spancled to their shadows on the snowblue ground and in each flare of lightning as the storm advanced those selfsame forms rearing with a terrible redundancy behind them like some third aspect of their presence hammered out black and wild upon the naked grounds. They rode on.

To the west the cloudbanks stood above the mountains like the dark warp of the very firmament and the star-sprent reaches of the galaxies hung in vast aura above the riders’ heads.

Above all else they appeared wholly at venture, primal, provisional, devoid of order. Like being provoked out of the absolute rock and set nameless and at no remove from their own loomings to wander ravenous and doomed and mute as gorgons shambling the brutal wastes of Gondwanaland in a time before nomenclature was and each was all.

The man who believes that 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.

Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn. A moral view can never be proven right or wrong by any ultimate test.

There is no mystery to it, he said. The recruits blinked dully. Your heart’s desire is to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery.

I wonder if there’s other worlds like this, he said. Or if this is the only one.

As the dance is the thing with which we are concerned and contains complete within itself its own arrangement and history and finale there is not necessity that the dancers contain these things within themselves as well. In any even the history of all is not the history of each nor indeed the sum of those histories and none here can finally comprehend the reason for his presence for he has no way of knowing even in what the event consists.

A solitary game, without opponent. Where only the rules are at hazard. Dont look away. We are not speaking in mysteries. You of all men are no stranger to that feeling, the emptiness and the despair. It is that which we take arms against, is it not? Is not blood the tempering agent in the mortar which bonds?


Someone snatched the old woman’s blindfold from her and she and the juggler were clouted away and when the company turned in to sleep and the low fire was roaring in the blast like a thing alive these four yet crouched at the edge of the firelight among their strange chattels and watched how the ragged flames fled down the wind as if sucked by some maelstrom out there in the void, some vortex in that waste apposite to which man’s transit and his reckonings lay abrogate. As if beyond will or fate he and his beasts and his trappings moved both in card and in substance under consignment to some third and other destiny.

Blood Meridian, p91. emphasis added

”in that waste apposite to which man’s transit and his reckonings lay abrogate”

The fortune tellers are watching the fire at the edge of the wilderness, and the fire smoke is being sucked up into the night sky. The dark sky beyond “out there in the void” represents the forces of nature that take into no account a “man’s transit and his reckonings”. A contrast exists between the cruelty and harshness of the natural world and the ordered world of men, sharpened by the strange company of band of mercenaries riding through the tortured landscape.