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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, June 14, 2013


HERO VS. VILLAIN, MONSTER VS. VICTIM PART 3 was one of my ongoing attempts to weave together the post-Kantian insights of Schopenhauer regarding literature with the ritual-school analyses of myth-and-literature of Northrop Frye and Theodor Gaster.  I might describe these schemas as "neo-Aristotelian" due to the emphasis on categorizing mythic and literary forms in a taxonomic manner.  In contrast, Schopenhauer seems only mildly interested in making fine distinctions; broad distinctions, more after the fashion of Plato than of that arch-categorizer Kant, were his speed, as one can see with constructions like "percepts/concepts" and the two different forms of the will thus far explored.

Though as I said in Part 1 I don't disown my Schopenhaurean observations, but I'm becoming convinced that the terms I extrapolated from Arthur S. don't work well enough for my purposes.  Rather than describing forms of the will in Schopenhauer's lofty Platonic terms, I find that it may be simpler to speak of the ways that fictional characters, through the exercise of their fictional "wills," make possible the many validations of *thymos.*

I started off HERO VS. VILLAIN 3 with this quote from Milton:

"Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall."-- Milton, PARADISE LOST, Book 3.
I used this notion of being "sufficient to stand" to examine the divergent personas I was beginning to firm up:

I've also long thought, in line with my Milton quote above, that there is an element of choice one associates with villains: that they are "sufficient to stand" but that they "choose to fall," much like Milton's own uber-villain Satan. Many monsters do not seem "sufficient to stand." As Butler argues, they have no more choice about being monsters than a force of nature.
I didn't go on to draw a parallel comparison between heroes and what I'd later call "demiheroes," but consider it stated now.  Demiheroes, even on the occasions where they triumph against their opponents, don't really choose to stand or fall, because they are governed, just like their monstrous counterparts, by a different form of will than one sees in the heroes and their villainous counterparts.

One paragraph down I made the comparison of this will with two Schopenhaurean categories:

Rather than the element of "choice" suggested by both Milton and Butler, I will suggest the key element is actually that of "will"-- or, to be more specific, two types of will, whose designations I borrow from Schopenhauer even though they aren't derived from him as actual categories.

In WORLD AS WILL AND REPRESENTATION, Schopenhauer distinguishes between "intuitive" and "abstract" representations: humans share "intuitive representations" with other animals, in that they are based in the body's "percepts." But humans alone have the power to conceive "abstract representations," for humans alone can base representations in "concepts." I will use this basic opposition here, though I'll substitute "intellectual" for "abstract" purely for euphony.
But what if, in approved time-travel fashion, my future self came back and told me to invoke Fukuyama's post-Hegelianism instead of Schopenhauer? 

The answer should appear in Part 3.

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