The following evening as they rode up onto the western rim they lost one of the mules. It went skittering off down the canyon wall with the contents of the panniers exploding soundlessly in the hot dry air and it fell through the sunlight and through shade, turning in that lonely void until it fell from sight into a sink of cold blue space that absolved it forever of memory in the mind of any living thing. It fell through sunlight and through shade, turning in that lonely void until it fell from sight into a sink of cold blue space that absolved it forever of memory in the mind of any living thing. Glanton sat on his horse and studied the adamantine deep beneath him. A raven had set forth from the cliffs far below to wheel and croak. In the acute light the sheer stone wall wore strange contoursand the horsemen on that promontory seemed very small even to themselves. Glanton looked upward, briefly, as if there were anything to ascertain in that perfect china sky, and then he chucked up his horse and they rode on.
I love this passage on p147 of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. The deliberate beauty of it. The measured descriptions that are so evocative and precise that when you read them you cannot help but stand within that ragged crowd of scalphunters and follow the mule’s silent fall down the cliff face into oblivion. ‘It fell through sunlight and through shade, turning in that lonely void until it fell from sight into a sink of cold blue space’. The vastness of the language, the power of it. Each sentance hammering home. Each word perfectly picked. The raven setting forth from the cliffs far below to wheel and croak. The scope and scale, the suddeness of death, the contemplation of the psychotic killer as he regards the sublime indifferenace and lethality of Nature, considering her beauty and harshness, his own position within it. ‘The panniers exploding soundlessly in the hot dry air’. Perfect. Exploding soundlessly. It is so easy to obsess over this book. To carefully scour its pages for phrases, to parse the paragraphs as you seek to deconstruct McCarthy, to analyze his word placement and images in an attempt to sound out the running thread of his brilliance. He’s in the interstices, he’s at once hidden between and behind the words and brazenly on display on every page. Does he write quickly, fingers blurring on his typewriter, reeling off the tale and the descriptions as they come to him, channeling his muse, a mere conduit and nothing more? Or is he a master craftsman, deliberating carefully over each word, each construction? Does he write a careful page a day, or spin out ten or fifteen? Does he work up fever pitches or always operate in a cool, calm, collected manner? Is he wry and detached from his subject matter, or does he get as involved as his readers, frowning and furious until he sits back with a huge whoosh of air, hands falling to hang by his sides, eyes scanning his words as he reads what he has written, each sentance a revelation to his once again conscious mind?