the myth of regeneration through violence

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‘Star Wars’ and the Fantasy of American Violence

SundayReview Opinion NYTimes.com

by Roy Scranton

July 2, 2016

FOR a long time after I came home from the war, fireworks made me jumpy. They sounded like what they are, shrieking rockets and exploding gunpowder, and every Fourth of July set off Alert Level Yellow. I’d crack another beer and try to laugh it off even as the friends I was with turned into ghosts of the soldiers I once knew.


The literary historian Richard Slotkin called this story “the myth of regeneration through violence,” and he traces it from the earliest Indian captivity narratives through the golden age of the western, and it’s the same story we often tell ourselves today. It’s a story about how violence makes us American. It’s a story about how violence makes us good.

Roy Scranton is the author of the forthcoming novel “War Porn” and “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization.”


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