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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

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

RETURN OF THE MASTERY MASTER PT. 3

I find that I did work a reference to Gaster's "plerosis/kenosis" dyad into HERO VS. VILLAIN PT. 3:

In "plerotic" narratives, it's a basic given that the forces of life will win the most significant struggles, whether they do so through *agonic* effort or through *incognitive* good fortune.

In "kenotic" narratives, it's a given that the forces of life will lose the most significant struggles, whether they do so under the sway of *pathetic* or *sparagmotic* forces.
I would probably rephrase this differently today, thanks to having articulated more of the *ambivalent* nature of the life-supporting forces and the life-denying forces as they apply to all four of the personas. The general gist of the argument was twofold.  First, the process of *plerosis,* of "filling," was a parallel to Milton's idea that "free will" hinged upon being "sufficient to stand, but free to fall," and this then connected to the quasi-Schopenhaurean concept of "intellectual will."  Second, the process of *kenosis,* of "emptying," connoted an insufficiency to stand, which would apply to creatures without "free will," who would, one expects, be dominated by the quasi-Schopenhauerean concept of "instinctive will."

Later, in this essay I introduced the terms "concrete goal-affects" as a parallel to "instinctive will," and "abstract goal-affects" to "intellectual will."  But during this period I also started working in references to Fukuyama's *megalothymia* and "isothymia* once again, this time in unison with Thomas Hobbes' "causes of quarrel."

So what if I had bypassed Schopenhauer and drawn my comparisons between Gaster-ritual and Milton-will to Fukuyama-*thymos?*

I might begin, perhaps, by contemplating the ways in which *megalothymia* and *isothymia* are reputed to work. Then I would probably note that the "filling" of plerosis roughly parallels the "excess" of *thymos* implied by the very coinage of the Fukuyama term, while the idea of *isothymia,* of seeing or making oneself equal to all others in society, implies the expulsion, or emptying, of any potential excessive *thymos.*

From this reasoning, my revised formulation of the four personas through the Gaster lens would look like this:

The HERO's "positive glory" comes about because he "fills" himself with "positive will," defined as the will that supports the furtherance of life.

The VILLAIN's "negative glory" comes about because he "fills" himself with "negative will," defined as the will that denies the furtherance of life.

The DEMIHERO's "positive persistence" comes about because he "empties" himself of "negative will," the will that denies the furtherance of life.

The MONSTER's "negative persistence" comes about because he "empties" himself of "positive will," the will that supports the furtherance of life.

In Fukuyama-esque terms, then:

 *Isothymia* depends on emptying out elements of will that seem excessive to one's society or environment, in order to seek homeostasis.  The demihero empties himself of negative will in order to live with society, so that both he and society can "persist."  The monster empties himself of positive will.  He often attempts to living a life on the borders of a society or environment yet maintains a dominant negative will toward all other forms of "persistence" but his own.

*Megalothymia* depends on filling oneself with elements of will excessive to normal functioning.  The hero is filled with a positive, altruistic will to protect society, one that often goes beyond the dictates of society's normal functions.  Like the monster the villain is filled with a negative will toward society or the environment, but he is the mirror-image of the hero in that he glories in his independence from society, rather than yearning after a lost "normalcy" as the monster does.
 
However, though I still align the mythoi of drama and irony to "kenosis," and the mythoi of comedy and adventure to "plerosis," I do not claim that any of the four mythoi are aligned with either form of *thymotic* validation.  Other factors, not least the combative and subcombative modes, can also affect the nature of such validations.

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