Thursday, November 29, 2012

STALKING THE PERFECT TERM: THE THREE DYNAMICITIES

In THE THREE-PART HARMONY OF DYNAMICITY I wrote:

...the use I made of the term in MIGHT VS. DOMINANCE was by my current standards incorrect:
Dynamis= any kind of energy
Might= an energy which to some degree is "superior" to some unspecified lesser forces
Dominance= a superior energy which specifically arises from conflict
By my revised standards, the first term should be *dynamicity.* This would include all forms of narrative "energy," from the lowest level to the highest. In the DYNAMICITY essay I specified three levels of energy-- "exceptional," "good-to-fair," and "fair-to-poor"-- all of which cry out for better terms.
The lowest form of energy, what encompasses "fair-to-poor" is best conceived as energy almost at rest, on the level of a coral bed simply growing in place, or of Harvey Pekar making lemonade.
 

I missed another mark here.  "Dynamicity" as I've been using it hereabouts can't stand for "the lowest form of energy," since by implication it takes in all forms of energy, just as my not-often-used term "conflictive" takes in all forms of conflict, "combative" and "subcombative."

Since Kant, the source for the terms "might" and "dominance," provides no term for what I called both "the lowest form of energy" and "unspecified lesser forces," I'm going to try out the neologism "basic strength."

Why "basic?" Because the word "strength" by itself connotes nothing about the level of strength involved.  "Basic" suggests that the possessor of such strength has not developed or elaborated his natural abilities beyond the basic level of existence.

To reiterate the Harvey Pekar example, clearly the vignette in which Pekar makes himself some lemonade requires no "strength" beyond this elementary level-- and neither do a variety of mundane, life-sustaining tasks-- driving a car, building a birdhouse, etc.

Admittedly, I'm more likely to use the adjectival forms I coined in the THREE-PART essay: *microdynamic,* *mesodynamic,* and *megadynamic."  But the one disadvantage of these terms is that they don't lend themselves as well as do the noun-terms in some regards.

For instance, in my earliest discussion of "conflict and combat,"  I originally designated three levels of conflict.  Later I simplified these to "combative" and "subcombative."  Operatively, though, there is some significance to labelling some types of narrative as "noncombative."  Certainly there is a mindset in some literary circles that true literary works don't deal in gauche violence.  Pekar, with his kitchen-sink renditions of his own life, seems to have subscribed to this notion.  In a similar vein, Northrop Frye once noted the irony that despite the popularity of Shakespeare, most later dramatists hewed more closely to the realistic example of Ben Jonson-- which means, if only in part, that this tendency eschewed the Bard's bloody-mindedness.

"Might," as situated in Kant's argument, is simply a superior force amid inferior ones.  This would parallel the type of story in which there exists an anomalous force (say, the vampire Dracula) with which a group of ordinary people must contend.

"Dominance" generates a very different type of plotline, in which at least two superior forces are arrayed against one another.  I'll explore this in more depth in my next essay.


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