Sensationalism, with its ability to grab the audience by the lapels and make them want to see "the Parliament of Monsters" (to invoke old Wordsworth again), remains the chief foe of anyone attempting to sell something that is allegedly more elevated, more incisive, more devoted to telling the real truth (whatever that truth-framework may be). The hunger for the Big Important Themes is a genuine intersubjective experience, true enough. But it does not define the boundaries of art.In that two-part essay-series I largely confined my argument to disputing the priorities of those who privilege an alleged rationality over all forms of sensationalism. However, there are also ontological dimensions to the argument.
Back in my essay-series THE GATE OF THE GODS I pointed out that Northrop Frye, who eventually became a moderate defender of pop fiction, penned an amazingly scathing putdown of "sub-literary" narratives in one of his early writings:
All of us, even the most highbrow, spend much time in the sub-literary world; all of us derive many surreptitious pleasures from it; but this world is, from the point of view of actual literature, mainly a babbling chaos, waiting for the creative word to brood over it and bring it to literary life.At the same time, in the same essay I pointed out that Frye was not being as utilitarian as many of those who advance similar arguments, many of which come down to, "If the sensationalistic story isn't part of the solution, it's part of the problem." Still, Frye's early metaphor for sub-literary works, that of a "babbling chaos," touches on a misconception common to the ratiocentrists. For them, any work that might be termed "pulpish" or "sensationalistic" is just such a chaos, unredeemed by any discursive meanings-- which for the ratiocentrist, are the only possible meanings. Since the rise of modernist literature, elitists of all stripes tend to regard the world of pure sensation as no more than epiphenomena.
In PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES, Jung theorizes a possible ontogenesis for meaning within the chaos of sensation as said chaos is experienced by the infant in the womb. I'll be examining Jung's theories more thoroughly in future essays, but with the upfront admission that Jung had no credentials as an expert on child development. As this site clarifies:
A developmental model that begins not only at birth, but with conception and the experience of the child in the womb, can be constructed that reflects and extends the psychological concepts of Carl Jung, based on his theories of the four psychological functions and on his theory of the transcendent function. This model would include not only the beginning of ego development, but the development of the soul complex and its origin in human consciousness.
Jung did not construct a developmental model defining the origins of human consciousness. A model that defines and reflects his concepts in a developmental theory that begins with the beginning of life would contribute to the understanding of the Self. There is presently no developmental psychology that provides a model based on Jung's description of psychological functions that begin in the womb. The Jungian analyst Michael Fordham does discuss issues relating to the child in the womb, and early ego development. His model uses Jungian concepts that describe the process of individuation in childhood.More to come.