Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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John Marini Podcast on Westerns

I talked with Professor John Marini (University of Nevada, Reno) about western films and heroes and honor and courage and the establihsment of civilization and how hard it is to keep it. Because of his importance for the genre, much of the half hour was spent on John Ford and his films. John knows more about westerns than anyone I know and I will talk to him a couple of more times. Do listen to it and those following; kind of like a Christmas present. My thanks to John Marini.

Discussions - 1 Comment

The cowboy, as you are speaking of him, is an ideal. Actual cowboys were more fleshly, scruffy and crude. The western created the myth of the cowboy and a traditional epic mythology for America. The Heroic Cowboy, which I helped create and which John Ford and the cowboy movie perpetuated, was like the knight. This was a continuation of the chivalrous ideal into the West.


If you consider the role of the knight in European culture, it was similar to that of the cowboy in our west, but that settling of that ancient society took much longer. It is the pattern, that need for the hero and the heroic in creating law and settled society. When the culture is settled, the wandering hero becomes anomalous and something of a bother. The man with heroic tendencies is an explosive nuisance in the camp, as in the Iliad, (so we have always known it) and must be marginalized for societal comfort. He wanders and becomes less ideal, except in legend.


We demythologize our heroes today, thinking that we prefer truth to Truth. We think we like our heroes warts and all, but who likes warts? We certainly do not like "all" as we complain and fuss about it, endlessly. It is the modern way to look too closely. Give me a little vaseline on the lens. Heroes are better varnished and untarnished. But when conditions become extreme, we will take what we can get.

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