by Winsip Custer CPW News Service
According to African-American historian, Zulu Golden Eagle Chisum, whose ancestry he claims is linked to an African king of the Zulu tribe and to American pioneer and trail blazer, Jesse Chisum, Cormac McCarthy's apparent fascination with Herman Melville's great white whale in his first novel, Blood Meridian, is a Freudian longing for white supremacy accomplished by the importation and distribution of the two drugs, opium and cocaine.
"Jesse Chisum’s mother was the former Martha Rogers, granddaughter of John Rogers, a British soldier. Martha's sister was Tah-Meh, the wife of the illustrious Cherokee chief, John Jolly. Martha’s other sister was Tiana Rogers, the Indian wife of Sam Houston," said Zulu.
"My branch of the family was from Sicily Island near New Orleans where they specialized in distilling Scotch and Irish Whiskey, pressing garlic and making macaroni noodles before blazing trails toward Kansas City and points West. My academic degrees came from a number of universities I shall not bore you with," he said, "but my main area of interest was naturally in Southern literature having come from Louisiana. Plus I like gumbo and boudin. I was listening to the Sterling Professor of Literature at Yale, Harold Bloom, expound about what he believed was the inspiration for Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and I thought 'well, that's a bit tarnished for a Sterling Professor'," said Zulu with a deep belly laugh.
"Melville was the resident novelist of the New England Brahman-class, the Cabots and Lodges and Peabodys and Lowes, and Cushings and Browns..the New England power elites who made fortunes in whaling, then transferred that power to other forms of shipping and transportation like street cars and railroads and discovered gold and diamonds and oil and opium and cocaine along the way while pushing the idea of Manifest Destiny that was really fueled by the white stuff," said Zulu.
"White stuff?" I asked. "You mean opium and cocaine or white culture?"
"Well, cocaine came later, but remember that the cocoa plant was a major import product for chocolate and cola companies and that to this day there is only one company that is permitted to import that plant into the U.S. and it is NOT the Chisum Pharmaceutical Company of Sicily Island, Louisiana" said Zulu.
"The money would end up in companies like National City Bank and then CitiBank or AIG Insurance whose founder insured much of the American and Chinese business ventures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries...that founder being Cornelius Vander Starr. The white stuff was never on top of the table, but always underneath it....like on people's laps, knees, and shoe tops....and, of course, the white stuff was sold primarily on and in the black market. I really mean the BLACK MARKET!," shouted Zulu. "America's poor, just like the poor of China during the Opium Wars that led up the Cultural Revolution, were the purveyors of the white stuff especially after the FDA was established and patent medicines could no longer put the white stuff in over-the-counter pain elixirs and cough medicines," said Zulu.
"I liked McCarthy's book The Road, but thought it could have just as easily titled 'The Road Much Less Traveled'," said Zulu with a broad toothy grin as he seemed to shift directions in the conversation.
"Blood Meridian, McCarthy's first novel is a parallel of Melville's Moby Dick and has been used in English lit classes from Yale to Berkeley to demonstrate the cross-fertilization of literary devices among America's leading white writers. To demonstrate, Harold Bloom writes in his book How To Read and Why:....
'Since Blood Meridian, like the much longer Moby-Dick, is more prose epic than novel, the Glanton foray can seem a post-Homeric quest, where the various heroes (or thugs) have a disguised god among them, which appears to be the Judge’s Herculean role. The Glanton gang passes into a sinister aesthetic glory at the close of chapter 13, when they progress from murdering and scalping Indians to butchering the Mexicans who have hired them,'"
Zulu stopped reading from Bloom's book and rubbed his eyes.
"Well, I'm here to say that I think that the point is missed altogether. 'A Post Homeric quest? WTF?" shouted Zulu. "It was pure butchery of the kind that Ahab saved for whales and not humans. But I think that McCarthy fully understands what he is doing and he's ratcheting up the danger in a way that Melville could not unless he wanted to lose his membership at the Boston Society for Uppity White Folks. Until you understand that Melville's epic novel was a warning to Americans to cease and desist from the suicidal pursuit of white stuff, you are doomed to go down with the big white Moby Dick," said Zulu.
"You can see McCarthy's agenda of providing a continuing justification for chasing white stuff not only in Blood Meridian, but also in No Country for Old Men. John Joel Glanton was a free scout with James Walker Fannin, the martyr of Goliad during the Texas Revolution. Glanton also rode with John Coffee 'Jack' Hays, another Texas Ranger. Glanton was a real life son-of-a-bitch who was so mean that neither Fannin nor Hays wanted him in their company....after, that is, he did their dirty work. Stuff they didn't want to touch as civilization....another name organized and systematized plunder of the environment.....arrived from the Ranger's backside as they faced Glanton's slaughter shaking their heads, but secretly approving. That's when Glanton headed to Mexico on his scalping expedition which ended up in Arizona Territory where he was killed by the Yuma Indians for what was assuredly good cause. Then the character Chigurh in No Country for Old Men...a name that Cormac supposedly picked for its untraceable quality is not a new idea to the Southwest and that story was all about white stuff. When the first Federal District Judge to be murdered in over 100 years by Woody Harrelson's father in San Antonio on May 29th, 1979, it was all about white stuff. The contract on Judge John Howland Wood was placed by Jimmy Chagra, a Lebanese Mexican from El Paso whose family was smuggling guns and white stuff across the Middle East from Juarez," said Zulu. "The Chagra name was picked specifically by the Lebanese family because it sounded Mexican and the dark skinnned Lebanese could fit in nicely in the Juarez and El Paso population. Chagra, Chigurh. Chagra. Chigurh. Chagra. Chigurh. Sound similiar to you? It sure the heck does to me," said Zulu who continued by saying that this information was recorded in the book by Gary Cartwright titled Dirty Dealing without the Chagra-Chiguhr comparison. Was Woody Harrelson used in the movie, No Country for Old Men, as the American who had the most first-hand knowledge of Chighur because his father had the greatest first-hand knowledge of Chagra? It's a profound question.
"Bloom is, I believe, an apologist for the brutality of Manifest Destiny, but what happens when the whole world has been absorbed? Time for Armageddon? But I am doing a poor job of showing you the connections of white stuff to our current predicament. Look. John Coffee 'Jack' Hays would high tail it to San Francisco after the Texas Revolution and he would be elected as San Francisco's sheriff on the same day that another Texas Ranger was elected sheriff of Sacramento, Ben McCullough. That was in 1850 one year after gold was discovered there. Follow the money....but the even bigger money was not in the gold stuff, but in the white stuff. So Texas and then California, way stations along the westward push to the shores of the Pacific Ocean and poppy fields beyond, were as much fueled by a desire for white stuff as for surfing in Malibu or salmon fishing in the Columbia River. And thanks to John Muir who ran with guys like Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, the great Sequoias and Red Woods were not made into the panels on Ford's little Woodies," said Zulu.
"John Coffee 'Jack' Hays' nephew was John Hays Hammond the right hand man of Cecil Rhodes founder of the DeBeers Diamond mines in South Africa for whom Rhodesia and Rhodes Scholarships were named. As lucrative as those white puffs of compressed carbon were, they weren't as lucrative as the renewable white stuff from Turkey, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and Asia's Golden Triangle," said Zulu.
"I believe that the whole push for a Transcontinental Railway was fueled by the love of white stuff. When the New England Brahmans wanted the easiest route to the Pacific, a route south of the troublesome Rockies, Caleb Cushing courted Jefferson Davis who in the 1850's had laid out that route along the Sante Fe Trail, but Cushing learned that those Southerners were as hard as Old Hickory. So they just started a Civil War and took what land they needed around them and hedged their bet on a Mountain route in case they lost that war or the troublesome Southerners sabotaged their efforts which they did all along the envisioned Southern route. They sent William Tecumseh Sherman to kill their East Coast terminus. The Central route through Promontory was completed first, but hell, William Walker the filibusterer had already seen the value of taking Baja and had tried to steal it from Mexico with the southern terminus of the Southern route going to San Diego across the Gadsden Purchase. The white stuff was like another unseen tax on the people, but it always gave a certain thrill, and it fueled from under the table everything on top of the table. Ask Ben Bernanke to factor the white stuff into or out of the nation's GNP and to tell us of its actual impact and he'll have a heart attack, but of course, he already is aware so it will just be indigestion," said Zulu.
Now if you really want to see where much of this connects you have to go back to the old country. Europe. Living on Sicily Island, my ancestors would hear it first hand. The New England Brahmans whose English authors had been Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Poe, Browning and others were fascinated with the Medici family from Florence Italy. They would spend summers there soaking up the culture and seeing themselves as America's merchant class just like Italy's Medici. Of course the Medici had their enemy in Italy. Bernardo Bandini. The Bandini's will migrate to California as will the Frescobaldis in the early 1800's and Juan Bandini will partner with the first wine maker in the Sonoma Valley north of San Francisco whose vineyard, Buena Vista, operates to this day under the same name. The Bandini family will become one of the richest in California including the wife of Able Stearns. Able Stearns was the judge that survivors from the Glanton episode in Arizona told of the killings by the Yuma Indians. I have read that the posse' sent by Able Stearns to get Glanton nearly bankrupted the California State treasury. I was always told that Able was related to George Luther Stearns the man who tried to corner the lead and gunpowder markets before the Civil War and one of John Brown of Harper's Ferry's secret supporters and who had a home near Beacon Hill in Boston," said Zulu.
I could not conclude my interview with Zulu Golden Eagle Chisum without asking him the obvious. "Well, if Harold Bloom is an apologist for Manifest Destiny which today would be American Imperialism, does that make Cormac McCarthy an apologist for it, too?"
"To believe that one has a prima facie right to unlimited acquisition of land on the basis of cultural superiority and that the brutality necessary to accomplish that acquisition as personified in a man like Judge Holden is about as far from the example of Moses or Joshua's appointment of judges in the Old Testament as one could get. They had limited horizons and wanted to live at peace with their neighbors. I would love to ask Mr. McCarthy that question," said Zulu. "Like Melville and the others, they give just enough prophetic warning to be judged impartial and objective observers. In the end you only know the answer to that question by knowing who's table their feet are under and how much white stuff is on their shoes."