Re: New Memes Book

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Mon 11 Apr 2005 - 16:08:56 GMT

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    Dear Vincent,

    > What is it with the US meme of the dangerous inbreed/mutant
    > cannibals who live in the woods/mountains? Why are they always white people
    > too?

    I think it reflects two early migrations from the British Isles, British and Scotch Irish. Because of ethnic and class differences there was friction between the groups and many Scotch Irish took to the hills, leaving the towns under British sway. The rest is demonization.

    Although not without a grain of truth. (My grandfather, a doctor, was hijacked at gunpoint by the Sullivan clan. One of them had been wounded in a shootout, and they told him to fix him up. If he lived, my grandfather would, too. Just like in the movies. As for inbreeding, cousins certainly got married.) There is some romanticization, as well.

    > Moreover why is this apparently popular at the moment?

    Perhaps one factor is that there are still groups in the U. S. who resist the dominant culture and live in or near the wilderness. I think the center of that has shifted from the Appalachians to the Rockies. And there are still some dangerous people among them, like the Posse Commitatus (if they still exist) and Timothy McVeigh.

    > Are mountain men another way of representing the dangerous
    > other_inside_America (I remember studying Deliverance as a student and being
    > taught about it as a possible allegory of the vietnam war- natives in the
    > wilds terrorising the unknowing, disrespectful city folk)?

    Gee, was your instructor an English Lit. type who didn't know much about American or Vietnamese culture? ;-) The Vietnamese were civilized before the Europeans. And there are still dangerous Americans living in the hills.

    Best regards,


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