RARA-AVIS: God is a Bullet

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 28 May 2003

Dick Lochte wrote: The current discussion about "Bullet" is pretty damned fascinating. In comparing "The Searchers" to contemporary stories
("Taxi Driver," "Hardcore") one aspect seems to have gone unmentioned, however. The villains of the piece. In "The Searchers," the Indians are depicted as savages, but, as I recall, there is a nobility about them. Their savagery stems from their history. They know no other way of life. And we get the feeling that as much as the character John Wayne plays hates them, he knows this. It's what makes his character so rich. In the "influenced" works, there's nothing at all noble about the pimps and porno filmmakers, snuff artists and others of their ilk. They're scumbags. It simplifies the storyline a little. (I should note that I'm not sure if this applies to "Bullet." I couldn't get very far into that one.)
******** There's not much nobility in Cyrus, the leader of the satanic cult in Teran's BULLET, but he's not the typical stereotype self-obsessed crazy, either. He's just a mean sadistic killer. The book makes it clear that his hold on his followers is mainly based on his ability to give them what they want, which is drugs and violence. And there's not really a lot of stock put into their cult beliefs, either. They are just an added amusement to their main fun, which is drugs and violence. Teran refuses to elevate Cyrus to a devil god. The Ferryman makes the sneering comment that Cyrus is just another sheep. And the good guys do some pretty nasty things for good guys. Bottom line here is that the playing field is fairly level, and it's sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad once you get down in the mud, blood, and tequila.

I guess what I'm getting around to here is that GOD IS A BULLET is noirish. There isn't a whole lotta nobility to be found anywhere. The closest thing to respect that Teran's protagonist sheriff Bob Hightower develops for the bad guys is no more than a realization that there is perhaps not as much difference between him and them as he formerly thought. The significance of Bob's character is that he sees everything he believes in collapse around him and yet he digs deep within himself and finds the courage and personal conviction to go on, rising like the phoenix from the ashes of his own funeral pyre. And kicking some serious ass in the process too, I might add. ;-)

"Influenced" works seem to pretty much take a piece of what they want and heck with the rest, and they often twist what they take until it's downright ironic. I'd say that about Joyce's ULYSSES (just from what I've heard. I haven't read it.), and Flannery O'Connor's image of Christ in Hazel Motes is outrageous.


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