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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, September 20, 2013


Before launching into the second part of THE ETHIC, I must also revisit the propositions outlined in the essay STRENGTH, IN NUMBERS, where I did a quick survey of Grimm's Fairy Tales to explore the ways in which dynamicity manifests in the stories.  While I have stated that characters in any given story will fall into three possible dynamicity-levels-- the microdynamic, the mesodynamic, and the megadynamic-- in terms of the way dynamicity operates in plot-narratives, the first two are practically identical.  Whether a given character's dynamicity-level is "poor-to-adequate" or "good-to-fair," he is unable to reach the exceptional level of dynamicity that Kant calls "might."  Here I will use the term "might" for illustrative purposes.

If the dynamicities of characters in conflict are reducible in their plot-functions to either "non-might" or "might," then they can only combine in three dichotomous permutations, which I tried to illustrate with three examples taken from the Grimms' collection.

NON-MIGHT vs. NON-MIGHT-- "The Bremen Town Musicians," in which an ordinary group of bandits are overcome by an ordinary group of animals (discounting the animals' human-like intelligence, which is merely a convention of the story)

NON-MIGHT vs. MIGHT-- "Hansel and Gretel," in which two ordinary children manage to overcome the superior "might" of an evil witch through what I called "endurance and cunning"

MIGHT vs. MIGHT-- "The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was," in which an unnamed young man accepts the task of spending a night in a haunted castle, and by his own heroic might overcomes terrors that would destroy ordinary men, such as a horde of demonic animals and an animated bed

Since the first two types of narrative are subcombative, while the last is indubitably combative, this schema will prove useful for my discussion as to what ethical impact the combative mode has upon human culture.  I stress that the sublime affects that arise from works of spectacular combat are not defined by its ethical or utilitarian dimensions.  However, those dimensions exist as a result of pure affects interacting with human culture, so the former should be reliably identified.

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