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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...

Monday, March 4, 2013


"I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's"-- William Blake.

This is a much more elegant way of saying what I said in TERMINOLOGY OF ENDEARMENT:

I'm aware that my lexicon of terms on this blog has been and probably will remain daunting to most readers. But I believe that no critic worth his salt is ever comfortable with passively receiving terms set down by other analysts, whether lit-critics like Frye or persons from other disciplines like Big Sigmund.
My "system," of course, will probably never have any impact as a series of blog-posts.  To have any impact in any sphere, the system would have to be set down in some coherent form, be it a book or a wiki.

That said, one reason I'll probably never put down a lexicon on the blog is that I'm constantly finding new linkages that redefine the old ones.  Critics who want to stick with the predictable terminologies of the Freudians and the Marxists and their kinded-- following what I deem the delusion that those disciplines have some real connection to the world of "objective science"-- are welcome to do so. 

On to one such connection:

Not since 2011 have I written of the dichotomy "Moira/Themis."-- a pairing principally derived from the formulatons of 20th-century myth-critics, such as Jane Ellen Harrison, whom I discussed somewhat in BACK TO THE LIBRARY.

The creator toiling in the fields of "high" or canonical literature expects to impose a theme upon the phantasms of the imagination, much as (in a different context) Jane Ellen Harrison argued that early myth's early phase, dominated by the "Moira," or fate, gave way to a second phase, that of "Themis," which dealt with the ordering of myth as attuned with "behavior dictated by social conscience." The parallel to the operations of "high" and "low" literature need not be belabored.
In a related essay, I compared the characteristics of "moira," associated with ritual and "the primitive law of sacrifice and atonement," with Frye's concept of "primary concerns," while "themis" was a socially articulated concept of "justice," comparable to Frye's concept of the "secondary concerns" that guide civilized humans in the right attainment of the "primary concerns."

The paradigm here is one of evolutionary development.  Subconsciously powerful forces-- be they "moira" or "primary concerns"-- eventually evolve into the more discursively organized, conscious concepts of "themis/secondary concerns."  And Schopenhauer advocates the same developmental distinctions between "primary" and "secondary" levels of experience:

"...the world as will is the primary (world) and the world as idea the secondary world. The former is the world of desire and consequently that of pain and thousand-fold misery. The latter, however, is in itself intrinsically painless: in addition it contains a remarkable spectacle, altogether significant or at the very least entertaining. Enjoyment of this spectacle constitutes aesthetic pleasure." Parerga and Paralipomena, 1851 (Essays and Aphorisms, R. J. Hollingdale, trans., London Penguin Books, 1970), p.156.

The two literary personas that I compare with the primary "instinctive will" of moira-- the monster and the demihero-- might not be as entirely governed by "misery" as the Gloomy Philosopher chooses to typify ordinary life.  However, the images of sacrifice and suffering capture the "emptying" essence of the concept of *kenosis* as conceived by Theodor Gaster.  One might say that the positive incarnation of "moira" is the community of ordinary, "persistent" humanity-- a community destined to be eternally threatened by its shadow-side, the negative "monster."

In contrast, I would not say that the world of the secondary "intellectual will" is "intrinsically painless."  However, I would say that its personas, the "hero" and the "villain" are defined not by sacrifice but by the "filling" essence of *plerosis*, which takes the form of glorious spectacle.  It's therefore no coincidence that the principal quarrel between the hero and the villain is not one of simple existence, as it is between the monster and his demihero victims.  Rather, their quarrel concerns the validity of "themis," the intellectually imposed law, which the negative "villain" defies and the positive "hero" defends.

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