Dave Trautman writes:
"A population that believes that it is more important to be wealthy than to
illuminate the soul will eventually resort to desperate means to acquire that
goal. Marshall McLuhan suggested a long time ago that there was a direct
relationship between a sense of identity and aggression. The less a person
has an identity the more likely they will resort to violent means to assert
Considering the social and technological changes that have occured in the
past 30 years it is not hard to identify myriad ways in which the cultural,
communal, spiritual, and personal identities of Americans has been withering.
Some circumstances cannot be anticipated. Others can be dealt with. I feel
that hijacking aircraft in the seventies was a direct result of the loss of
national identity of the people who wanted to draw media attention to their
Well, it goes back before McLuhan and even before the movies. Consider the
violence of dime novels that romanticized the West and made thugs like
the Earps et al. into national heroes. Or consider this, on JF Cooper, from
D.H. Lawrence's STUDIES IN CLASSIC AMERICAN LITERATURE:
". . . one is forced to admire the stark, enduring figure of Deerslayer.
He is neither spiritual nor sunsual. He is a moralizer, but he always
tries to moralize from actual exprience, not from theory. . . . Yet
he gets his deepest thrill of gratification, perhaps, when he puts a bullet
through the heart of a beautiful buck, as it stoops to drink at the
lake . . .
"But you have there the myth of the essential white America.
All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into
lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate,
stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted."
Of course, that book says as much (or more) about Lawrence as American
literature or culture, but DH might say that PULP FICTION is closer to
an American truth than the now-enshrined FORREST GUMP. (But the *real*
truth is that they are *both* fictions and equal examples of Americas'
always-narcissistic cultural gaze--IMHO :-) )
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN