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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Sunday, December 9, 2012


In STRENGTH, IN NUMBERS  I made this generalization about the corpus of stories within the famous folktale-collection Grimms' Fairy Tales:

I would generalize that most of the Grimms' folktales fall into one of these two categories [i.e., having the plot-dynamicity labeled "basic strength" or the one labeled "might"].
In contrast, I only pegged one Grimms' tale which displayed the plot-pattern of "dominance," focused on two contending superior forces.

But that's just one story-collection.  How do these three deductively-extrapolated patterns disperse over the whole of literature?

I suppose my view may be influenced by a lifetime of genre-reading.  Nevertheless, genre-- and I consider folk literature to be a close relation to genre literature-- has been the dominant type of narrative (both in written and oral forms) favored by the majority of human beings in historical time.  And basing my view on everything I've read of what other people generally read, the "middle type"-- the one that Goldilocks pronounced as "just right" in another context-- is the one that I believe would rack up the highest statistics, were any kind of statistical evaluation feasible.

I hinted at the predominance of the "might" pattern in my QUICK SCHOPENHAUER POST

As I've mentioned elsewhere I find Cioffi's term "anomaly" useful to describe the element or elements that provide the motive force of the narrative, so it would seem that the anomaly expresses the narrative's need for conflict/transgression.
To make my meaning more explicit, I'm saying that the dominant type of story within genre narrative-- which narrative is the dominant narrative experience of historical mankind-- is one in which the characters who inhabit a normal, "typical" continuum-- characters usually possessed of no more than "basic strength"-- is confronted with an atypical anomaly-- be it a natural force or a character-- which impinges its "might" upon the continuum's static equilibrium. The anomaly may be any number of things within the scope of the Num Formula: a ruthless criminal (naturalistic), a bizarre psycho-killer (uncanny), or a blood-hungry vampire (marvelous).  As different as these three examples are in terms of phenomenality-- with one appealing to what I've called the "odd-sublime," the other two to the "strange-sublime"-- they are identical in terms of function in terms of how the plot-dynamicity works out.

If the "might" pattern is, as I assert, the dominant pattern in genre-literature-- thus supervening the patterns of non-genre literature as well-- then this would support H.P. Lovecraft's belief as expressed at the start of his critical history of the terror-tale, SUPERNATURAL HORROR IN LITERATURE:

THE OLDEST and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

Of course no one can be sure as to which emotion was the first to be kindled in the breast of nascent humanity.  But it's possible that the confrontation of mundane "basic strength" with the power of sublime "might" is the dominant pattern because it has the greatest appeal across all genre-types.

More on these matters in a forthcoming Part 2.

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