Spellcoats ending (spoiler)

Jackie E Stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Fri Jul 25 17:57:12 EDT 2003


This kind of thing is the whole premise of Motel of the Mysteries, by
David Macaulay, which always makes me laugh my head off when I read it. 
The idea is that archeologists of the future have uncovered a motel from
our time period and have to interpret things like the television, the
toliet seat...

You'll never look at an archeologist's work again in the same way. 
Another piece of writing that performs a kind of debunking of such
scholarly analyses is "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" by H.M. Miner,
which first appeared in the American Anthropolgist in 1956.  Here's a
link to the full text: 

 http://www.digiserve.com/eescape/library/Body-Ritual-Nacirema.html, 

and there's a spoiler at the botton of the link, in case you haven't
gotten the joke.   It's a very funny essay, once you do.  We read it in a
sociology class and I think it might have been even funnier to watch and
listen to the people who didn't get the joke talking about how WEIRD
these Nacirema people are.   

Body Ritual Among the Nacirema is definitely earlier than Spell Coats,
and is a classic, I believe, in anthropological circles...

Jackie

On Fri, 25 Jul 2003 06:14:45 +0100 "Charles Butler"
<hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk> writes:
> I recently finished the Spellcoats - a very good yarn - and was 
> struck by
> the ending, which (as you will recall if you've read it) is written 
> by the
> curator of a future Dalemark museum in which the coats are 
> displayed, and is
> full of scholarly guesses as to their significance, historical 
> veracity, the
> identities of the people mentioned, etc.
> 
> I couldn't help but be reminded of the Historical Notes at the 
> ending of
> Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale', with its scholarly symposium. Except 
> that
> Spellcoats came first, of course! But then it occurred to me that 
> maybe this
> is a well-worn device, used all over the place by many writers I 
> just
> haven't come across. So - can anyone think of any other examples? 
> And any
> earlier than DWJ's?
> 
> Charlie
> 
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