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Graphic Violence, or the Evening Redness in the West
November 7, 2011 12:17 PM   Subscribe

'He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.' Artist Shawn Cheng and associates draw Cormac McCarthy's visceral masterpiece Blood Meridian page by brutal page.

Shawn Cheng previously, Blood Meridian previously and previously. Collaborator Zak Smith has trodden a similar trail before.
posted by tigrefacile (31 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh wow, Blood Meridian is one of my favorite books. The only way I can really explain it is an examnination of the western mythos from the point of view of the bad guy. It is a total destruction of something we hold dear, the old west.

I also agree with Bloom that The Border Trilogy gets weaker as it goes on. I was fascinated by All the Pretty Horses, by time I was done with the third I just wanted it to be over.

McCarthy is the one writer who genuinely surprises me with language. In one of his books there is there is a line like " He swung the hackamore in a slow veronica" I had no idea what that was supposed to mean and was forced to look up veronica only to find it was a bullfighting term. It not only perfectly described the swinging motion of the hackamore, but described the mood of the scene. It was indeed a showdown.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh holy fuck this is incredible. I almost bought the dead-tree version of the Gravity's Rainbow one. I will be watching this closely.

Blood Meridian is one of my favorite books, too, and I've never read anything else that so perfectly can make a reader feel a certain way almost independent of the actual semantic content of the words (I say: almost). Perfect for a project like this.
posted by penduluum at 1:02 PM on November 7, 2011


I like how they make the site's interface more confusing than McCarthy's language. I had no idea what I was looking at or why.
posted by resurrexit at 1:12 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cormac McCarthy's Yelp reviews
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:21 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


This was one of the best books I've ever read. Incredible.

Does anybody else feel like storing up ammo and canned foods after reading McCarthy? He's the greatest living writer, I think, but man does he have one dark view of the world.
posted by glaucon at 1:23 PM on November 7, 2011


Many of these drawings are beautiful, some insightful, but the project is misguided. Blood Meridian is poetry. These panels are to Blood Meridian as dance is to architecture.

I'd prefer to decontextualize these drawings. This one is Steve Ditko's Eternity chilling out in a stream with zombie Gollum.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blood Meridian is one of the best books I've read, and continues to inspire heated debat with friend who also love it. Can I love the Cormac on Yelp thing too?
posted by freebird at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2011


Is this the part where we say that if some poor fool actually tries to bring this to the screen, he'd better at least cast Tom Noonan as the judge?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2011


I've had "Blood Meridian" on my "to read" shelf for a long time, after disliking "The Road" but loving "No Country" (both in book form). This might be the final kick in the ass I need to read it....does anyone think this will be an enhancement or a detriment?
posted by nevercalm at 1:35 PM on November 7, 2011


does anyone think this will be an enhancement or a detriment?

Just read the book and maybe bother with that site later. I loved that book, and I guess the pictures make sense if you put some quotes from the book under them; but the site's basically the leavings of some random Pictionary game.
posted by resurrexit at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


does anyone think this will be an enhancement or a detriment?

Neither. Also, I don't think your opinions of The Road or No Country for Old Men will matter much here. More and more, Blood Meridian strikes me as sui generis. Leave all these expectations at the door. You have to come to Blood Meridian on its terms. If you do so, the opening chapters will mold you into the reader that the book needs you to be.
posted by .kobayashi. at 1:51 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


he'd better at least cast Tom Noonan as the judge

The judge is ageless though, and Tom Noonan is pretty old nowadays. Some wrestler dude and some good editing is what you need.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:02 PM on November 7, 2011


I don't know if I could look at an illustration of the end scene, with the dancing bear. That was one of the saddest things I've ever read.
posted by mannequito at 2:07 PM on November 7, 2011


The judge is ageless though, and Tom Noonan is pretty old nowadays.

As long as they shave every hair off his body it would work, unless they have the scene at the public baths where he's described as looking like a giant baby.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:13 PM on November 7, 2011


does anyone think this will be an enhancement or a detriment?

Yeah, having looked at it, I'd say neutral to detriment. Approach the book without a visual idea of things first. The language will overtake you.

Agree with .kobayashi about it being sui generis, too. I wasn't especially fond of The Road (or at least didn't think it was as good as everybody else seemed to), have loved some of McCarthy's other stuff (especially No Country and Outer Dark). But Blood Meridian is ... different.
posted by penduluum at 2:13 PM on November 7, 2011


There is the Blood Meridian that I have read and loved and there is the Blood Meridian that exists in the unrestricted confines of my mind and these pictures unfortunately do not live up to either.
posted by m0nm0n at 2:17 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The judge is ageless though, and Tom Noonan is pretty old nowadays.

As long as they shave every hair off his body it would work, unless they have the scene at the public baths where he's described as looking like a giant baby.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:13 PM on November 7 [+] [!]


I used to think that a completely shaved Bill Clinton, pre-weight-loss, would have been perfect as The Judge, and I'll bet he would have accepted the role, too.
posted by newmoistness at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2011


I barely survive this book every time I read it.

Not sure I'm ready for a graphic treatment, one outside my own skull anyways.

(cool find, tigrefacile, thanks for the excellent FPP)
posted by sidereal at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2011


Blood Meridian is poetry.

Blood Meridian is a gnostic poem.

Someone once performed a statistical word frequency analysis of Blood Meridian and discovered that, aside from people names, general prepositions and articles, every word appears only once, or nearly so. One hell of a feat. I may have even read that here on the blue, but some desultory searching turns up nothing.
posted by sidereal at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2011


What shocked me the most when first reading through Blood Meridian was how any literary work could be so horrendous, yet so gorgeous. I'm struggling to think of a similar example.
posted by SomaSoda at 3:18 PM on November 7, 2011


Blood Meridian was too much for me. I appreciated the art and craft but it was a walk with the devil. Brutal, cruel and awful, in the original sense, it caused me sensations of deep murderousness; the devil indeed.
posted by jadepearl at 3:44 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What shocked me the most when first reading through Blood Meridian was how any literary work could be so horrendous, yet so gorgeous. I'm struggling to think of a similar example.

The example McCarthy wants you to think of is the Bible. Or at least the Illiad. That's pretty much his level of ambition with Blood Meridian.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:56 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, this is an interesting idea but, a good example of how less -- much less -- would be more powerful.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2011


I love/hated Blood Meridian, and still have the feeling that I didn't understand most of it. I should reread it, but have a strong aversion to that idea. These illustrations are beautiful, but have little to do with the book I read.
posted by arcticwoman at 4:55 PM on November 7, 2011


when anybody says to me, genre work can't be good literature, i point them towards blood meridian
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:10 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blood Meridian is not "genre."
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:21 PM on November 7, 2011


what page is the tree of dead babies on?
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:23 PM on November 7, 2011


Blood Meridian is not "genre."

And the thread was going so well, too.
posted by brennen at 10:05 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a confused feelings about Blood Meridian. I understand what he was doing, have massive respect for the way in which he did it, love the execution of it, had my breath taken away by the way he used language in the writing of it, but: I do not like the book.

In some weird way I have more respect for the fact of him having written it and the way he wnt about doing so than I do for the actual result.

Though it's a lesser work in almost every way, I felt the same way about American Psycho.

But I will check out this imagining, with thanks, even if I kind of feel that the... weight and precision and rigidity of the language McCarthy used needs to be respected, and making manifest the way that one person visualized things cheapens and demythifies it somehow.

I will also admit that I have been drinking, so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:01 AM on November 8, 2011


@fuzzypantalones

all the pages, it is on all of them
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:25 AM on November 8, 2011


These are ambitious, but wholly miss the mark. The abstract ones, like page 18, are the only ones that come close to capturing the sense of text. But then, why would I want to see abstract interpretations of an entire book? I already have that going on in my head as I read.

The woodcut pictures (and I would point out the artist's names here, but one can only see which pages they've been assigned, not which they've done. /grar) are too jolly for my taste. Though, page 83 is pretty good.

I have to say WTF to the ones that are cartoony or goth/sci-fi cyborgs. It would be something to do th cartoon version of Blood Meridian, or the goth cyberpunk version, but it makes no sense thrown in here with other artists trying to capture, I think, the impressions of the text.

Next time, skip the "every page" gimmick and make relevant illustrations for selected passages.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 7:01 PM on November 8, 2011


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