Blood Meridian, Chapter 14: “Tierras quemadas, tierras despobladas.”

[Guest Post by Christian Higgins, without whom there would apparently be no posts of any kind.  The dunce academy is in shambles.  Thanks for your diligence, Christian].
“Tierras quemadas, tierras despobladas” — burned lands, depopulated lands, but there’s an approximate rhyme to it.  I wonder if there’s some grim Mexican nursery rhyme that goes along with it.
The judge dances along perfectly with the fiddle player, proving Tobin’s statement in Chapter 10 “God the man is a dancer, you’ll not take that away from him.”  Funny scene of the judge pouring booze into the old man’s ear trumpet and the old man stopping it and then drinking it down.  Seems like something in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
The Feast of Las Animas (the Souls) begins Mexican Halloween/All Saints’ Day celebrations.  The children “eating pastry skulls” for Dia de Los Muertos.  The judged “filled his pockets with little candy deathsheads and he sat by the door and offered these to children passing on the walk under the eaves but they shied away like little horses.” Run, kids!  But later:  “A little girl was missing and parties of citizens had turned out to search the mineshafts.”  Between offering candy to kids and doing the coin-behind-the-ear bit, the judge is beginning to seem more like your stereotypical pederast.
More great reaction to how obnoxious the gangmembers are:  “Sometime in the night a party of horsemen bound for California arrived, every man of them slumped in exhaustion.  Yet within the hour they’d ridden out again.”
The boy selling puppies: “The boy looked at one and then the other of the animals. As if he’d pick one to suit the judge’s character, such dogs.existing somewhere perhaps.” Name your dog Cerberus.  Do it now.
The judge buys the two puppies from the child and then throws them into the river.  Evil!  The part I don’t fully understand is Bathcat.  Are he and the judge playing a game?  Target practice in the water? At first I thought it was Bathcat who had put the gun to the judge’s head after the judge killed and scalped the Gileno boy in Chapter 12 but that was Toadvine.  Hard to keep the gangmembers identified.  I’m doing my best to track them here.  Also: pizzle.
Glanton has fits, is bound down, escapes these bindings and rides a mule around town with the Mexican flag dragging in the dirt.  Somebody takes a shot at him.  Because of the insult or because of the bounty from Chihuahua or or because of the missing girl or because of how generally obnoxious the gang has been?  I guess it doesn’t matter.
“The priest had baptized the wounded Americans and then stood back while they were shot through the head.”  This is presumably the same priest who was drubbed and abused when they first got to town.
There is some connection between the judge and Jackson, but I can’t tell what it is.  His protege?  The judge is the one who asks about Jackson’s safety when they get some space between them and the rabble.
“Whatever exists, he said.  Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”
“In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur on it [Earth] save by my dispensation.”
I think that’s pretty good support for the gnostic archon/demiurge angle.  I really don’t see how just an evil man throws that out.
“On the second of December of eighteen forty-nine they rode into the town of Ures, capital of the state of Sonora.” I’d been trying to keep track of the date just because Bathcat’s death had been predicted as being “in the fall of that year,” so when I read that I thought maybe he had been killed by the rabble but hadn’t been explicitly described.
Great imagery.  “Females of domestic reputation lounged upon the balconies they passed with faces gotten up in indigo and almagre gaudy as the rumps of apes and they peered from behind their fans with a kind of lurid coyness like transvestites in a madhouse.”   Darling, your face looks like a baboon’s behind and you act like you might be a man.

2 thoughts on “Blood Meridian, Chapter 14: “Tierras quemadas, tierras despobladas.”

  1. As for the Judge being a pederast, I found this when doing a little research on the Glanton Gang. It’s from Chamberlain’s account.

    Judge Holden

    Glanton’s gang consisted of “Sonorans, Cherokee and Delaware Indians, French Canadians, Texans, Irishmen, a Negro and a full-blooded Comanche,” and when Chamberlain joined them they had gathered thirty-seven scalps and considerable losses from two recent raids (Chamberlain implies that they had just begun their careers as scalp hunters but other sources suggest that they had been engaged in the trade for sometime- regardless there is little specific documentation of their prior activities). Second in command to Glanton was a Texan- Judge Holden. In describing him, Chamberlain claimed, “a cooler blooded villain never went unhung;” Holden was well over six feet, “had a fleshy frame, [and] a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression” and was well educated in geology and mineralogy, fluent in native dialects, a good musician, and “plum centre” with a firearm. Chamberlain saw him also as a coward who would avoid equal combat if possible but would not hesitate to kill Indians or Mexicans if he had the advantage. Rumors also abounded about atrocities committed in Texas and the Cherokee nation by him under a different name. Before the gang left Frontreras, Chamberlain claims that a ten year old girl was found “foully violated and murdered” with “the mark of a large hand on her throat,” but no one ever directly accused Holden.

    The link for what it’s worth…

    • Excellent insights. So much depth here. You could spend a lifetime exploring all the rabbit holes the book opens up. Hope you enjoy as you keep reading. I’ll check out that link when I get a chance.

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