Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, and Moral Law

Cormac McCarthy

I am a fan of Cormac McCarthy and his book “Blood Meridian.”  Re-reading the book recently I noted this passage:

“Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn. “

There is insight in this statement. I had not thought of our moral codes in those terms. McCarthy clearly takes a sectarian view of morality here. Morality is man’s invention, not handed down by God. Regardless of the origin of moral law, most moral codes protect the weak from the powerful. 

Power naturally corrupts. Without checks the strong take advantage of the weak. We are a violent, predatory, and opportunistic species.  Moral law checks that tendency.

As the rest of the passage notes, moral law is constantly under assault. Historical law–what actually occurs–frequently does not follow moral law or what should happen.

Blood Meridian portrays the nastier side of our nature. It is extremely violent.  At first reading I thought McCarthy created the story to present his view of man and the world. I learned recently that most of the book’s events actually took place. Several of the characters are based on real people. It makes the book all the darker.