The mythology of the American West presents a story of conquest and displacement.  It is a narrative that legitimized genocide in the name of Romantic Nationalism and American Expansionism.  The belief in Manifest Destiny declared western expansion to be God's will.  It was presupposed that the land was virgin, untouched.  Its inhabitants were treated as obstacles to be discarded.  It was a sublime landscape upon which rugged individualism was proven.  Americans expanded westward with violence.
The unicorn is an ancient symbol of purity and grace.  According to myth it can only be captured by a virgin.  It embodies the puritanical values of the 19th century America – chaste love and faithful marriage.  In Christian iconography it is a symbol that represents Christ.  Its contemporary pop culture usage and consumption cloaks its phallocentric form with adolescent fantasy and desire.
The symbol of the unicorn and the myth of the American west are equally clichéd. Both have been drained of meaning through overuse – the unicorn through kitsch and the west through romanticized narratives of cowboys and the Wild West.  The complexities of the history of the land are eclipsed by its photogenic beauty which has been captured repeatedly by both amateur and professional image makers in service of the idealic.  Like the unicorn, the exoticism of the American West is something to be coveted, captured, displayed and idealized.  Both are imaginary products of desire.  Much like the construction of myth of the west, the unicorn and its promise of virginal reward is only a horse with a horn.

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