Thinking About Violence




It is interesting to me that in my mind the violent creations of Cormack McCarthy exist in a world of tragic immaculate design as applied to history, but when he writes of contemporary horrors the beauty is gone. It is displaced by feelings of despair, sadness and defeat.

I loved the book Blood Meridian despite its human cost, but ‘The Counselor’ was hard to watch, and not because of poor construction or design (guilty of that and more despite a stellar cast), but because it seemed hell-bent on over-performing as an intentional exercise in nihilism. If this was the intent then success was achieved.

For example – the kidnapper chasing Penelope Cruise. He methodically pursues, and then deftly takes the high-heeled feet out from under her with a kick – like the take-down of an animal, a technique executed and shared so casually that it insults the humanity of both the prey and the observer.

The film repeatedly presents living souls voluntarily committed to emotionless execution, and the complete reduction of human spirit.

And here’s how I described Blood Meridian – ‘It’s like a printed black-hole-record of humanity’s most vile deeds. A documentation in vortex – it dangles the sweetest, poignant prose just outside the gravitational influence so that you are tantalized forward into the pull, and before you can make any judgement of the effect – you are sucked down irretrievable, completely damned into its terror. It’s the most beautifully disturbing thing I have ever read.’

One piece utterly beautiful and one piece completely poisonous – but the behaviour of characters is interchangeable, and your participation as observer differs only temporally.

Perhaps this magical separation of emotion as concerns distance, study or examination is a piece of the explanation or a symptom of why as a species we seem doomed to repeat history.

And there is something missing from this discussion, some kind of acknowledgement, but I’m not sure of whom or what. I sense it, but it hasn’t materialized yet.