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Oogedy-Boogedy



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Concerning Kathleen’s oogedy-boogedy column today:  I’ve been on a Mencken kick just recently (see the next issue of National Review). I offer the following recommendation to anyone unsure about what “oogedy-boogedy” refers to:  Read Mencken’s article “The Hills of Zion,” about a trip he took into the backwoods (literally) while covering the Scopes trial in 1925. The article is in the Chrestomathy, page 392ff. You will no longer be in doubt about oogedy-boogedyness.

The leader kneeled facing us, his head alternately thrown back dramatically or buried in his hands. Words spouted from his lips like bullets from a machine-gun — appeals to God to pull the penitent back out of Hell, definaces of the demons of the air, a vast impassioned jargon of apocalyptic texts. Suddenly he rose to his feet, threw back his head and began to speak in the tongues (Mark xvi, 17) — blub-blub-blub, gurgle-gurgle-gurgle. His voice rose to a higher register. The climax was a shrill, inarticulate squawk, like that of a man throttled. He fell headlong across the pyramid of supplicants.

Mencken found the people of Dayton, Tennesseee (where the Scopes trial took place) a dull lot of townies, and not very religious:  “The real religion was not present [in Dayton]. It began at the bridge over the town creek, where the road makes off for the hills.”

I’m sure that level of oogedy-boogedyness is still around. As a fan of “the old, weird America,” I devoutly hope so. At the same time, I think that campaigners for national political office would be wise to keep it at arm’s length, along with the Church of Scientology, Rastafari, and the Ghost Dance of the Sioux.

But Kathleen … “bloxicon”? As the coiner (I am pretty sure) of the verb “to bleg,” I’m curious to know if that is yours. It’s inspired, whoever coined it.



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