The (Macabre) South: A Reader

necrophilia [nek-ruh-fil-ee-uh] – noun, Psychiatry.
1. an erotic attraction to corpses.

There is a perverse irony to this I cling to: My homeland, The South, is best represented by William Faulkner’s “A Rose from Emily”—a story that builds to a Town discovering that dear old Emily has been sleeping with the corpse of a lover, who everyone assumed had left her just before marriage.

To this day in 2015, as I post this, Emily remains the fictional personification of The South.

Case in point: Georgia bill would protect Civil War, other monuments despite any local objections:

Proposed Georgia legislation would prohibit the removal of monuments despite any future objections to them.

Rep. Tommy Benton introduced House Bill 50 to avoid changing fashions from sweeping away memories, he said. It was approved by a Georgia House committee on Wednesday.

“I think history is history,” said Benton, R-Jefferson.

Having been born and then lived my entire life in The South, I am deeply skeptical of the first two words of Rep. Benton’s quote—thinking is not something common among the wink-wink-nod-nod populist politics in The South, but pandering is—and that pandering is often to the lowest possible denominator, I fear.

This legislation would once again codify what Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (pp. 22-23) vividly details:

lynching 1

lynchings 2

I imagine that some political leaders in Georgia have heard the rising voices at nearby Clemson University in South Carolina, where students and faculty have called for the renaming of Tillman Hall; see two posts addressing that debate:

Ultimately, The South’s contemporary and historical Selves are almost indistinguishable; we never let go.

Segregation, corporal punishment, self-defeating political allegiances, racism, sexism, inadequate commitments to public institutions (notably education), “right to work” anti-unionism, a contradictory reputation for great literature and “deficient” literacy, a fundamentalist religious fervor—these are The South, and I invite you to read further:

One comment

  1. raellis1991

    Great article. Can I ask you to expand on your grouping of anti-unionism with the other categorizations you have of the South (racism, sexism, etc.)? I’m by no means anti-union, but I would like to understand the link you have made between the dehumanizing traditions of the South and anti-unionism, which seems in this day and age to be something that has proven to work better in theory than in practice.

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