TPR vs. The Nation; or, The Evening Redness in Lower Manhattan
June 18, 2012 | by Cody Wiewandt
Team |1|2|3|4|5|6|7 Total TPR |0|0|3|0|0|1|0 4 NAT |5|0|0|0|4|0|X 9
Within the first minute the slaughter had become general. —Blood Meridian
Themes found in Cormac McCarthy’s grotesque 1985 masterpiece, Blood Meridian, hereby presented in descending order relative to how closely they can be applied to a postgame dissection of last week’s softball game against The Nation:
1. Destruction, Chaos
Blood Meridian is essentially a chronicle of destruction, a hurricane of terrible things like knives and guns and dead babies. This game, while not a massacre of flesh, was nonetheless a massacre (maybe of the human spirit?). From the onset, our side played a sloppy game; a slew of early errors gave The Nation a first-inning lead they would not relinquish. Like in the novel, the slaughter was complete; unlike in the novel, it was mostly self-inflicted.
2. Good vs. Evil
Or, more specifically, the triumph of evil over good. Or, even more specifically, the triumph of evil basically by default, because it could be argued that the novel is devoid of anything that’s actually inherently good. In this scenario, we ostensibly represent this notion of goodness, while The Nation is naturally the evil, and although the triumph certainly lies solely with them it could be argued that we, the good, didn’t even really show up.
3. Terrain: Mystical, Difficult
One of the most critically remarked upon aspects of Blood Meridian is the landscape1, which morphs into a kind of hallucinatory horrorscape that eventually swallows up life itself. The cavernous Murry Bergtraum Softball Field (The Nation’s home digs) is kind of like that.
4. A Critique of America, Manifest Destiny, Westward Expansion
The Nation published their first issue in 1865, squarely within the scope of the novel, which takes place mostly around 1850 but begins in 1847 (well, maybe 1833, because that’s when the kid is born, but the action begins when he runs away from home at fourteen, so I say 1847) and ends in 1878. TPR was founded in Paris in the early 1950s. There’s some tension there, but not enough to warrant any definitive conclusion. Harold Bloom warns against anyone reading too politically into Blood Meridian, and I think that’s the case for our game as well.
If you look hard enough and twist hard enough you can find glimmers of it in the book. In any case, defeat has only brought us closer in solidarity.
6. Scalp Hunting
Next game: Tuesday, Central Park, The New Yorker.
- Roberto Bolaño, (from Between Parentheses): “Blood Meridian is also a novel about place, about the landscape of Texas and Chihuahua and Sonora; a kind of anti-pastoral novel in which the landscape looms in its leading role, imposingly—truly the new world, silent and paradigmatic and hideous, with room for everything except human beings. It could be said that the landscape of Blood Meridian is a landscape out of de Sade, a thirsty and indifferent landscape ruled by strange laws involving pain and anesthesia, laws by which time often manifests itself.”