Confederates in the Attic

by Tony Horwitz

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What does "Wargasm" mean in Confederates in the Attic?

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One of Tony Horwitz's experiences in Confederates in the Attic was the Wargasm trip he took with reenactor Robert Lee Hodge. Wargasm is the term used for an intensive journey through Civil War battlefields and locations, keeping one's self in tune with the journey as if traveled back during the actual Civil War:

We were hurtling down the interstate somewhere near Richmon when Robert Lee Hodge poked me hard in the ribs.

"Don't farb out!" he bellowed. "You think the Yankees got any sleep at Gettysburg? On Burnside's mud march?"
"That’s the epitome of the Gasm... so much stuff that you can't possibly take it all in, and you don't know what to do with it anyway. So you just let it wash over you."
(Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic, Google Books)

The Wargasm (shortened to "gasm" throughout) is an attempt to connect with the people and places of the Civil War on a personal level. It is easy to visit sites in the day and sleep in a motel at night; it is hard to travel between sites without stopping on the same itinerary that troops used during the war. "Farbing out" is a derogatory term referring to a lack of commitment; if Horwitz sleeps, he is shaming the people who marched day and night by refusing to fully immerse himself in the moment. The goal is to become "in the moment" and achieve a sort of exhausted, relaxed, spiritually aware enlightenment of the people, places, and times.

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