Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MYTHOS AND MODE PART 3

In MYTHOS AND MODE 2 I said:

In a similar manner, narrative values can trump significant values in terms of determining whether or not a work is “combative” or not.  Based on that assertion, I would say that MACBETH remains a “combative drama” even though it lacks the significant value of sublime dominance between two contending forces.  In contrast, I would not consider CORIOLANUS combative in that I feel the subcombative narrative values predominate.  As I continue to consider other cases I will probably come across examples where the reverse verdict proves true for each example.

I'm revising this nugget of theory to say that the "combative mode" should always denote those works that contain both a narrative combative value and a significant combative value.  This means that MACBETH and possibly one or two other works I previously labeled as "combative" are necessarily subcombative instead.

I recently came to this conclusion as I considered the statement I'd made re: the character of "Doctor Who" in WHAT'S ON FIRST, WHO'S ON SECOND:

...in essence the Doctor... belongs in the adventure-mythos, but only in the subcombative compartment of that mythos.

I realized that the reason I'd made that assignment was precisely because the Doctor's tendency to use "froda" rather than "froda" to triumph over his multifarous enemies. This approach deprives the viewer of beholding "the significant value of sublime dominance between two contending forces."

To be sure, certain Who episodes may contain brief contentions of this sort, as when the Doctor employs a powerful ally like K-9.




But because the narrative is not centered around the battle, such clashes have at best a transitory effect, such as one sees in the sole battle of Coriolanus and Aufidius examined in MYTHOS AND MODE 2, or with the clash of the two werewolves in WEREWOLF OF LONDON.

The same applies to the example of MIGHTY MAX, which I analyzed in terms of its central persona but not in terms of its conflictive mode in this essay.  I remarked that Max sometimes had his ally Norman handle much of the heavy lifting.



 

But Norman is neither a member of a "ensemble" as I define the term, nor a "genie" who becomes the real center of the story because he dependably comes to the hero's aid, a la GIGANTOR.  Thus his exhibition of "might," like that of K-9, are no more central to the narrative than the examples from the Shakespeare play or the Universal werewolf film.

It's possible that I may come across exceptions to this rule as currently stated.  But at present, I will consider that a work should generally be combative only if it combines the narrative and significant values associated with the mode.

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