Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mark of Kane, Cain, Bigfoot, and the Master Mahan

I love the idea of adapting folklore to my historical fiction, because even when creating something new, there will still be a resonance with the reader about that familiar thing. This time around that thing would be Cain, the first murderer.

Some of my favorite novels have had Cain/Kane. I spell it Kane here because that is how Karl Edward Wagner spelled the name of the same individual. KEW wrote three complete novels and about twenty short stories and poems about Kane/Cain, they are truly some of the finest dark fantasy stories out there. No sympathy for Kane though, he is an amoral anti-hero in all the tales but the take on him being an undying mercenary-doomed to wander the earth and suffer from the violence he has unleashed upon it is epic. I like KEW's take on his look too, a red-haired, left handed, muscular brute of incredible intelligence with ice blue eyes-the eyes of a killer; which according to KEW is the mark of Kane/Cain. Some of my favorites in the series are 'Darkness Weaves', 'Bloodstone', 'Cold Light', 'The Other One', and 'Lynortis Reprise'.

Another great book that I believe is centered around Cain and yet never mentions him by name, is 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. This post began because I told a friend who enjoys Cormac's style that I thought Blood Meridian was his best work and the the central evil character while called Judge Holden was really Cain. I have looked online all over the place and have not found a single entry where anyone else has come to this same conclusion but I am convinced. CM who is media shy has never given an interview on his epic so there is no help from the author. The tale takes place around 1849-1850 for the most part, it is incredibly violent and that is a central theme, that Judge Holden/Cain says is man's nature. McCarthy's Judge Holden/Cain is an immense seven foot man completely devoid of body hair=hence my thoughts on his particular mark of Cain. The Judge proclaims he can never die and is seen by the main character after dozens of years and has not aged- exactly like KEW's Kane who is adventuring through his series for centuries and centuries unchanged.

In another non-fiction series (or fiction-your interpretation) Zecaharia Sitchin of 'The Twelth Planet' series postulated in Book 4 "The Lost Realm" which dealt with the America's-particularly Olmec's, Mayan's and Tiahuancu, that Native Americans lack of facial hair was the mark of Cain. I don't buy that by any means but found it interesting to see what someone else thought on the subject of the infamous mark. And I would say the entire series is fascinating for weird historical research but there is so much there that - that is another several posts entirely.

Now something probably more familiar to my local readers is the mention of Cain in Spencer W. Kimball's 'Miracle of Forgiveness' I myself refused to read it and have heard nothing but bad things from anyone who ever did and mentioned it to me-but it recounts the story that I have from another book 'David W. Patten, the First Apostolic Martyr' by Lycurgus Wilson. (Lycurgus-great Spartan name! The Wolf-Worker) but I digress . . . Patten says he met Cain one night riding his mule, when a huge man who wore no clothes began walking alongside him, he was covered in hair and his skin was very dark. They spoke for a time until Patten finally rebuked him in the name of Christ and Cain departed into the woods (felt like I could paraphrase all of this) Anywho a lot of people take that and say it must have been what we now call Bigfoot. I don't buy that anymore than I do Indians have the mark for not having facial hair-lots of them do, big deal, that's not enough for a theory to me. I have yet to hear a single account from anyone else saying a Bigfoot told them that he was a miserable person who sought to make every soul on earth as miserable as he, Bigfeet just don't talk to people like that. Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong.

I have heard a great tale related by an old priesthood teacher of mine who thought Bigfoot was Cain and that he had an encounter with IT - but if I was to start telling it here it would violate a trust so I better not. One more tale in the works is Chris Bigelow's 'Master Mahan Avenged' I have read the first 24 pages of a rough draft and would like to see him finish it. Its a little rough I think for the DB crowd what with the Blood Magic and Gadianton rites but I liked what I read and would buy the book whenever he finishes it.

Finally in my series 'Heroes of the Fallen' I have a lot of folklore but I do not have Cain make an appearance -He is mentioned several times by characters who have either seen or interacted with him but as of books 1 and 2, he is not seen by the reader, nor so far in the rough drafts for book 3-but that may change. I like to think of him as somewhere between Patten's and Wagners descriptions. Once he does make an appearance, it would be something quite sinister and grand, something to dwarf even Akish-Antum the Gadianton Grand Master and that will be a hard feat.

4 comments:

Christopher Bigelow said...

Wow, that's a fascinating survey. I'm particularly interested in reading Blood Meridian now. Thanks!

David J. West said...

Thanks Chris, and I hope you are still working on Master Mahan Avenged.

Icarus "Ike" Schmidt said...

So I finished Blood Meridian two nights ago. My first thought upon completion was: "I bet Judge Holden is some kind of Cain figure." When I googled the two names, your post here came up. I just re-read the beginning and end and now feel even more confident that Judge H is meant to be perceived as Cain. Anyway, in the minds of two witnesses are all crank literary theories made immortal, &c.

David J. West said...

Appreciated Ike, I'm glad to see old blog posts still turn up in searches when related to pertinent material.

It's been a few years I need to revisit Blood Meridian some cold and bloody night.