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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...

Friday, May 3, 2013


Though it may not be evident from the argument in Part 2, I am oriented on finding a rapprochement between my earlier statements, to the effect that "mythicity" and what I now call "dynamic sublimity" were independent of the phenomenality involved, and my current statement here, where I've said that the nature of the phenomenality does make a difference to the "combinatory sublime."

My solution, then, is that the earlier statements were not adequately worked out with regard to the "narrative value-significant value" schism.

Both "mythicity" and "dynamicity," to the extent that they have particular functions in making a narrative work, comprise "narrative values."

The sublime affects associated with them, "the combinatory sublime" and the "dynamic sublime," are inevitably "significant values."

Nevertheless, there is a slight skewing in purpose between each of the two interrelated categories.

I conjure forth once more the three pop-fiction films I used to illustrate "violent sublimity," aka "dynamic sublimity."

Within each of these worlds, the phenomenality makes no difference to the narrative function of the "focal presence" involved.  As far as the film DIRTY HARRY is concerned, there is no being more powerful than Harry Callahan, though some of his foes, particularly Scorpio, are capable of challenging the hero.  The same holds true for Lee and his foe Han in ENTER THE DRAGON, and for Luke Skywalker and his opponent Darth Vader in the first three STAR WARS films. 

These diegetic dynamicities inevitably call forth significant values, of course.  But viewers do not often think of the "dancers" of violent conflict-- the presences of the narrative-- as being separate from the energy of their "dance," which is the significant value experienced by those who watch.  Thus the narrative value of *dynamicity* often takes precedence over the significant value of the *dynamic sublime* evoked by it.

Mythicity, however, is much more referential in nature.  As soon as one descries the presence of symbolic discourse, one tends to think less of its function within the story and more about what it means to the person experiencing the story.  Say, for sake of argument, that the symbolic discourse in all three of the cited films is equally complex.

DIRTY HARRY-- symbolizes the psychology of the (fictional) Old West, reborn in a modern urban environment
ENTER THE DRAGON-- symbolizes the psychology of the peerless martial artist, whose power lies not only in physical strength but also in his ability to "see" the weaknesses of his enemies
STAR WARS-- symbolizes the psychology of the archetypal orphan-hero, seeking to prove himself in a cruel world and finding his strength in opposition to a father (and a grandfather) archetype

On the level of the narrative value, all of these myth-functions are equal.  HOWEVER-- the potential of myth-combination is inevitably limited in Dirty Harry's world, since a naturalistic world always values verisimilitude over myth's improbabilities.  Works in an uncanny world have more leeway to be improbable, and thus greater combinatory power-- while marvelous works, able to present various levels of "the impossible," can present more combinations of elements than either.  Thus it seems demonstrable that because mythic/symbolic aspects are so highly referential in nature, this principle skews more toward the significant value of the "combinatory sublime," toward calling attention to the difference between the dancers and the dance.

On a somewhat conclusive note, I probably will not attempt to introduce the term "dynamic-sublime" into my tags.  Since as I explained in Part 1, almost all of my references to "sublimity" have been predicated on the Kantian concept of might.  So for the future I will continue to use "sublimity" as a tag to denote only "dynamic sublimity."

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