Short on time! Short on time!
My favorite chapter in Blood Meridian is chapter 10. I’m not going to go line by line, I just want to talk about what happens.
My favorite thing about the judge is how much fun he always seems to be having. My least favorite part about the judge is that he’s usually having fun doing something awful.
Even though it’s a flashback, I love the scene of how the band meets the judge. Tobin tells of how they were riding way out in the middle of nowhere, with little hope of finding food, water, or shelter. They were pretty much going to be dead. Except that they suddenly come upon a jolly, gigantic albino sitting on a rock waiting for them. In the middle of the forsaken desert, without a horse or anything else.
This is one of the most wonderful, eeriest scenes I can think of in all the books I have read.
They are being trailed by Indians, however, so there’s not a lot of time to sit around and remark on how strange it all is.
They are out of ammunition and it becomes that apparent that the pursuing Indians know it. The judge leads the party up to the mouth of a volcano, tell the rest of the band to circle off and lead the Indians away while he gets some work done. By the time they get back he has nearly finished making his own gunpowder out of bat guano, minerals from the volcano, and then with a bunch of urine from the men.
The whole scene has the ring of some perverse ordinance or religious ritual. Every single time the Indians start whooping and riding up the cliff to finish off the out-of-ammunition scoundrels, I am both exhilarated and horrified.
The judge waves a white flag down at them and begs for mercy before turning to his now-armed men with a smile. “Gentlemen,” he says. Then they turn and start firing. It’s a slaughter. The judge, naked and covered in mud and grease, laughing and shooting with the gunpowder he somehow knew how to fashion.
I think it’s an incredible scene and it speaks volumes about what the judge is, and possibly what he isn’t. Above all it shows his sense of humor. He can enjoy just about anything chaotic, it looks like, as if he has no fear of death. Or as if he knows he cannot be killed.
More on that later.
We also see the judge with his book of sketches, which is going to figure into some fantastic scenes presently. Oh, and we hear about the inscription on his rifle: Et in arcadia ego. Try looking that up and tell me what you think it means
For those of you still hanging around, thoughts on this chapter?