There are beasts in this alien land. Alien hearts. Creatures more horrible than anywhere else. But there are places more horrible, beasts more horrible still. The indians are part of the land, their blood runs into the earth, bloodlands, part of the earth itself, for generations.
Everything is ancient. Everywhere there is smoke and ash, coal burning from deep within the earth for a thousand years. The indians have “learnt war by warring.”
They ride to another place where everything is burning rock, heat coming off of everything. There are ominous shadows.
There are more bones.
Again, mysterious thunder rumbles in the distance.
They settle at some ruins for the night, and the judge seems fascinated by its age, by ruins, by history, by small evidences of things past. He has made collections all day, and now he draws each of these things in his book with great skill, in great detail.
His lips are described as “oddly childish.” He is very odd looking, smooth skinned, fair skinned, hairless, ageless.
After he is done drawing, he takes everything he has drawn and throws it in the fire, as if his rendering of things is more important than their actuality.
We meet a man named Webster, part of the group. He asks the judge what he intends to do with his notes and drawings. “[E]xpunge them from the memory of man,” comes the answer. Interesting. Webster concedes that the pictures “is like enough the things themselves…[b]ut no man can put all the world in a book.” If any man could, though, I suspect it would be the judge. He seems capable of anything.
This is where it gets really interesting. “But dont draw me,” says Webster. “For I dont want in your book.” Why not? What does being drawn into the book mean? What happens? The judge draws the thing into his book, then destroys the original. Does he then own its essence? Its soul? What does it all mean?
Webster is adamant. They go back and forth. Then comes yet another of those great judge statements:
Whether in my book or not, every man is tabernacled in every other and he in exchange and so on in an endless complexity of being and witness to the uttermost edge of the world.
The judge and the others go on to mock Webster mercilessly, asserting that it is vanity or fear that he will be chained to the likeness that make him not want his picture drawn. Webster is not happy.
Then the judge tells a story. I won’t retell it here. But it was a very strange sort of story. If it has some deeper significance, I don’t know what it would be. Men are greedy and jealous and, if it suits them, murderous, I got that. Strange. More bones, though. And a fatherless son will never find his way. I think there is probably blasphemy in here, and savior analogies, and atheism allusions, but I can’t follow well enough to parse them out.
There is much talk of the indians that once inhabited the ruins they are staying in. The judge suggests they are not as far or completely gone as it would maybe seem, that they are “rumors and ghosts” still much revered, “savages wander[ing] these canyons to ancient laughter.” Nothing ends, there is no death, nothing ever goes fully away. These seem like pagan, non-Judeo Christian precepts.
Then comes that passage that I know Dunce One likes so well:
If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he not have done so by now? Wolves cull themselves, man. What other creature could? And is the race of man not more predacious (i.e. living by seizing or taking prey ; predatory; given to victimizing, plundering, or destroying for one’s own gain) yet? The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die but in the affairs of men there is no waning and the noon of his expression signals the onset of night. His spirit is exhausted at the peak of its achievement. His meridian is at once his darkening and the evening of his day. He loves games? Let him play for stakes.
There is nothing really to add. This is endlessly bleak, endlessly profound. You could spend a year trying to comprehend and a lifetime trying to emulate this one passage.
Another reference to something awakened that should have been left sleeping.
They haven’t seen any action for a while. They start to get paranoid that they are about to be ambushed. They see no one, no smoke. They eat raw meat, stay in smokeless camps, sleep among bones.
Finally, they find some seemingly abandoned Apache villages. Glanton is so convinced it is a trap, he won’t let them enter. They set false fires and hide on the outskirts. Finally they go to check it out, and all they find is a very angry dog. Glanton seems very intrigued for some reason. Brown, another, warns him to leave it alone, but Glanton tells him to get a piece of jerky. “I can man anything that eats,” he says.
That night they end up stuck on a narrow pass, in darkness, sheer cliff and wall on either side. They spend the night standing, waiting to be attacked. Nothing comes. The scouts go out, and return with news of fires in the distance.
This was a deep chapter. I am sure there is a lot just in that discussion about the culling and the sons and the drawing and the analogizing of stories and sons. I would be interested and willing to engage in further discussion, but need someone who knows the story better to draw it all out. Anyone?