A Chaotic and Dark Vitalism A Case Study of Cormac McCarthy's Psychopaths amid a Geology of Immorals Nature, red in tooth and claw --Tennyson, "In Memoriam" lvi.15 Cormac McCarthy's landscapes in No Country for Old Men (2005) and Blood Meridian (1985) are violent geographic spaces that consist of what Jane Bennett calls "vital materiality" (vii): spaces filled with various objects of all description in which any momentarily coherent subject can become dismembered as an object, the only trace of which, as a human being, is a scalp or a corpse. I argue that McCarthy's psychopaths--limited to "case studies" of Judge Holden and Anton Chigurh--are embodiments of a frightening materiality and an immoral or amoral geology in which Darwinian evolution has resulted in the corrupt "pinnacle" of humanism found in the posthuman personality of the psychopath. I approach this essay through a multifaceted theoretical framework that involves chaos theory (as a mathematical model of chance), speculative realism and vitalism (as ways of approaching objects), and psychological case studies that explicitly deal with psychopathy in relation to evolution. This framework will permit entry points into McCarthy's psychopaths found in Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men. Spooky Materialism Jane
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Jun 21, 2015
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