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In essays on the subject of centricity, I've most often used the image of a geometrical circle, which, as I explained here,  owes someth...

Friday, June 19, 2009


The four modes to which I refer above are often incorrectly called "themes." I've been unable to track down where they first appeared, and they often get revised by this or that author, but the ones that I find most felicitous are:

1) Man vs. Man

2) Man vs. Nature (which includes Fate or Your Circumstances at Birth and so on)

3) Man vs. Society

4) Man vs. Himself

But none of these are not themes, as that word implies some form of didactic/discursive thought. They are modes, in accord with this earlier-quoted definition of "mode" from the WRITER'S WEB:

“MODE: an unspecific critical term usually identifying a broad but identifiable literary method, mood or manner that is not tied exclusively to a particular form of genre.”

Because the word "mode" is so unspecific, though, one has to distinguish between different types of modes. During the essay in which I quoted the above definition, I discussed modes pertaining to *emotional tonality:" in particular comparing the *subtle* mode of Noel Coward's DESIGN FOR LIVING vs. the *gross* mode of Mike Myers' WAYNE'S WORLD. But there are structural modes as well, and the four modes of opposition may well be the most basic modes in all narrative, since it's a commonplace that all narratives must have opposition as an organizing principle.

Now, most web-resources not only call this foursome "themes," but "themes of conflict." I have a definite neologism-nurturing reason for wanting to refer to the modes in terms of "opposition," for I want to use the word "conflict" in its adjectival form, "conflictive," in contrast with another term, "combative," in order to distinguish two tonal modes I've discovered as a result of analyzing the way various narratives make use of the plot-element of opposed forces.

In other words, all narratives possess an equal need for some elements of opposition, but some narratives are "more equal than others."

More on this "combat and conflict" theme anon, probably in the essay I plan to title, "Combat vs. Conflict."

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