[EDIT: Matthew points out that the sentence The way of the transgressor is hard actually originates in the Bible, Book of Proverbs 13:15. Cormac McCarthy’s hermit was quoting. Thank you, Matthew!]
The phrase “Fantods and Insect Gods” sort of rolls off the tongue, and I’m a big fan of Edward Gorey, who invented fantods and also wrote and illustrated a small book called The Insect Gods, but — no matter how light my touch — I’m writing about serious matters here. Matters that need a serious title. I personally think of the blog as rachelizabella.wordpress.com, but most were seeing it as Fantods and Insect Gods, and I’m changing that to something I hope is more fitting. —Where does it come from though, The Way of the Transgressor is Hard?
It comes from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which I consider one of the several Great American Novels. Here’s the relevant quotation, with some omissions for brevity. As with all of McCarthy’s truly great first 5 novels, there’s perhaps a lack of linear sense. Or does it all make perfect sense, just so concise and unforgiving of the reader it’s hard to paraphrase in any way?
I take it ye lost your way, said the hermit
No, I went right to it. [Referring to the well where our antihero has just watered his mule.]
He waved quickly with his hand, the old man. No, no, he said. I mean ye was lost to of come here. Was they a sandstorm? Did ye drift off the road in the night? Did thieves beset ye?
[The old man’s mind wanders, perhaps, and he tells and admits of his evil days as a slaver.]
Lost ye way in the dark, said the old man. He stirred the fire, standing slender tusks of bone up out of the ashes.
The kid didn’t answer.
The old man swung his head back and forth. The way of the transgressor is hard. God made the world, but he didnt make it to suit everbody, did he?
First, the entire phrase The way of the transgressor is hard is a play on words, with two meanings. The kid has in fact lost his way in a pathless dry grassland. He has transgressed in the sense of the word’s etymology: he has gone beyond known paths. Second, he has, we know, “a taste for mindless violence,” and for fear of the law he avoids traveled roads. —He has gone beyond, he has transgressed against the paths sanctioned by “God”, or, McCarthy being an unbeliever, maybe we should say “Nature” or “the way things are” or “society”. As no two people can agree on the nature of the paths sanctioned by God or by Nature, much less agree on the way things are, let’s stick momentarily with society … common sense … what’s normal… Quite simply, the kid has transgressed social norms with his violence. And he has transgressed against common sense, literally straying from the beaten path (necessarily or not), by traveling in a trackless wilderness, eschewing all roads and getting lost and surviving thanks only to the hermit’s kindness.
This double nature of the kid’s transgressions closely parallels my own transgressions, as many would call them. The transgressions of the transgendered person, the transsexual. The transgressions of the sorceress. Many would say it is not normal for an ostensible “man” to become a woman (I simply must put the word “man” inside scare quotes, for I was never really a man)… That to do such a thing is a violation of “Nature” or “God’s will” or “the way things are.” Even more people would say it is not normal, even that it is a sin and a transgression, to have conversations with, to see and sense angels, demons, Gods, et al. And not just for religious reasons. Only crazy people believe that stuff. I am thus doubly a transgressor: a transsexual sorceress. —Let me tell you, the way of these transgressions is hard. Most of you will need to take my word for it. I mean, a transsexual and a sorceress?…
What makes my life worth all the hard is the fact that just being alive now is more pleasant moment by moment and a far happier thing than it was before I stumbled upon a tiny fraction of the truth of the praeternatural and supernatural world, or worlds rather. —My life is a far, far better life than my subsistence and my mere not dying before I came out to myself as trans. That was a truth, and not a fraction of a truth, more difficult for years to accept and far more blissful than, oh, performing supposedly impossible deeds or meeting reputedly nonexistent entities.
But the way of this transgressor is still hard. Being a sorceress is hard because of the provisos and the fine print I had no one to warn me of, the persistent dangers and responsibilities. Being trans was hard when I made loved ones cry. It’s hard because I dare not go into the woods for one of the long walks I used to love. What if I met an angry and socially conservative landowner? Or several of the older kids who walk the woods leaving trails of empty beer cans and who might not take kindly to the sudden presence, in absolute isolation, of a transsexual woman? My body hasn’t changed enough for me to wear the jeans and boots required for a walk in the woods — there are no trails and I must perforce trespass, transgress — and still be sure of passing as a womanwith complete confidence. —The woods and my walks there for decades were integral to my well-being and my spirituality. It’s hard, being denied that. Harder still, being afraid.
That’s only one example, by the way, the woods…
Male-to-female transsexuals die murdered, by men, by the scores and probably by the hundreds in this country every year, and that’s the ugly truth. News of most such murders is confined to the police round-up, located somewhere toward the back of the newspaper.
My brain persists in telling me I’m in danger. I’m exaggerating the danger — maybe. I don’t know … I don’t think I’m exaggerating at all … I am not safe, not anywhere…
That’s a hard thought to think. Think it for me, won’t you? Feel it deep inside too, and tell me what you think.
Also it’s not as hard, although it’s still hard, to be an occultist in a place where the neighbors really do discuss left-wing occult government conspiracies.
All right. Basta! Enough with the Oh my life is so hard, because my life is a joy to me and precious.
But I’m still changing this blog’s title, header, whatever it’s called.