O'Dea, Gregory S.
Prevost, Verbie Lovorn; Stuart, Christopher J.; Wilferth, Joseph M.
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
In this study, I will attempt to synthesize the aesthetic and metaphysical conceptions of optical democracy. While several critics contend that the concept of optical democracy influences all of McCarthy’s novels, I will limit this treatment to Blood Meridian. By focusing one this one text, I will be able to move beyond the definitional treatments of this concept offered by previous critics and demonstrate how optical democracy works to produce meaning in two particular subjects explored in the novel: history and race. I will suggest that McCarthy uses optical democracy as an aesthetic technique, as described by Holloway, to abolish the idea of anthropocentric order as it applies to the subject being examined. By abolishing this false order, he simultaneously dissociates his treatment of the subject from this illusory order and reveals the presence of a phenomenal reality that is “before or beyond” anthropocentric assumptions in which war is the constant and unalterable cosmic reality and optical democracy is the fundamental ontological status (Shaviro 151). Ultimately, by synthesizing the aesthetic and metaphysical conceptions of optical democracy, I will suggest that McCarthy presents this concept as an intratextual critical apparatus that allows the reader to understand how the seemingly random acts of violence depicted in Blood Meridian are actually meaningful incidents that demonstrate the process by which war creates the order of existence.
M. A.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts.
McCarthy, Cormac, 1933- -- Criticism and interpretation
English Language and Literature
iv, 56 leaves
Locke, Jeremy Kevin, "Exploding anthropocentrism: understanding optical democracy in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian" (2009). Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.