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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...

Monday, July 15, 2013

TO THE POWER OF XYZ, PT. 2

In STATURE REQUIREMENTS I said:

...although the significant value of "conviction" provides an ancillary function in terms of how readers apportion value to different characters in different mythoi, the central value is best covered by the word "stature." 
Thus the original conception of the term "stature" was to distinguish the different audience-expectations within the four Fryean mythoi, as per this observation:


... the four mythoi each bestow a different type of *stature* upon their focal presences. Given my pluralistic stance, it would be incorrect to assume that a comic hero has *less* stature than a serious hero. The comic hero fulfills the stature appropriate to an unserious character, just as the serious hero does for his endeavors.
This stature qualifies purely as a "significant value," given that it depends on the audience's perception of the intentions of the narrative as either comic, dramatic, adventurous or ironic, rather than being a structuring element of the narrative, and thus a "narrative value."


In DYNAMIS VS. DYNAMICITY I pointed out the problem with Northrop Frye's conflation of the idea of physical power within a narrative-- which I termed "dynamicity"-- and the idea of a "power of action" appropriate to a given mythos, which I termed "dynamis."  It was in this essay that I first advanced terms for the three Aristotle-derived levels of *dynamicity*: "...the X-type (for exceptional), the Y-type (for the merely good), and the Z-type (for less than good).

I then made clear in this essay that characters could possess great dynamicity but could have a stature resulting from their *dynamis* that acted in some fashion contrary to expectations.

...comic and ironic characters aren't necessarily less powerful overall than those of adventure and drama. What separates them is not lacking power to save themselves, but lacking *stature.*
In COMIC HERO VS. COMIC DEMIHERO I extended the term "stature" to apply not only to which of the four mythoi to which the narrative belonged, but also to the four "persona-types" with which I classify focal characters and/or presences.


...although Thunder does indeed have a different "mythos-stature" than a character like Mandrake, given that one belongs to the comedy and the other to adventure, in terms of "persona-stature" the two of them are closer to one another than either is to a demihero character like Thorne Smith's Topper...

This seems logical in that types of narrative form and types of focal personas must have different levels of stature according to their design by their creators.

The purpose of extending this concept to types of narrative dynamicity is to account for the way in which many stories find ways for characters of lesser dynamicity-- and thus lesser stature-- to conquer those with greater dynamicity/stature.  Whenever this formula is employed-- that of *megadynamicty* being overthrown by *mesodynamicity* (as with the film THE DEADLY MANTIS) or by *microdynamicity* (as with MIGHTY MAX), one is generally dealing with a refutation of-- or at least a temporary avoidance of-- the logic of the combative mode, which generally declares that exceptional force can only be overcome by exceptional force, or at least by exemplary force gifted with some measure of strategic ability, as we see at the conclusion of the film BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, cited here.

In the future this distinction may have some consequence for the "ethic of the combative mode" I mentioned back in March.










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