Re: Dead body fetishism?

Timothy Mason (mason@CIE.FR)
Sat, 27 Jul 1996 22:06:04 -0500

-- [ From: Timothy Mason * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

>From Timothy Mason

Mike Shupp writes
> as far as the rest of the fixation on retrieving bodies, I'd say it was a
relatively recent phenomena, >stemming from Viet Nam. Great Powers in their
declining days have their little eccentricities.

So far as the fixation of the *American public* was concerned, the call for
return of soldiers' remains was far from eccentric. They had been persuaded
by a number of powerful communicators - amongst them Hollywood and the
President of the United States - that combatants reported MIA were in fact
being maintained in torture camps by the Vietnamese long after the war was
over. Under these circumstances, an identifiable body would prove to
relatives and friends that their loved one was not being subjected to the
treatment that Rambo movies and the like suggested was reserved for captured
American military. The fact that the whole story was most probably an
invention does not make the beliefs and feelings of the families concerned
any less reasonable.

Another place to look to read about Western feelings about dead bodies would
be Linebaugh's book on the London hanged. Crowds would charge Tyburn Tree as
the felons' bodies were cut down, in order to save them from the surgeon's
knife. Shupp's suggestion that negative feelings about autopsies probably
are in inverse correlation to educational level may well be true - but there
may be an intervening variable - social power.

Best Wishes
Timothy Mason