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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...

Thursday, January 15, 2015


To the best of my ability to remember a stray thought from a year and half ago, here's what I've come up with regarding the following:

I have some thoughts as to how these categories of goal-affect might relate to Frank Fukuyama's categories of "thymos:" *megalothymia* and *isothymia.*  But these will be elaborated in a separate essay.

Since the goal-affects I've formulated are "glory," which I usually associate with competition, and "persistence," which I usually associate with cooperative existence, I may have been on the verge of making the comparisons of "glory= megalothymia" and "persistence=isothymia." It should go without saying that I always apply such formulas primarily to art and literature, though that's not to say that they lack any parallels to "real life."

But I'm glad I didn't make such a one-on-one comparison, because the categories are too complex for such parallelism.

Fukuyama introduces his terms as an analysis of the broad motivations behind human actions, pointing out that *thymos,* "spiritedness," can arise in comparable ways from the attempt of an individual to exceed others or from the attempt of an individual to promote others to obtain rights, privileges, etc., that others enjoy.  Fukuyama, as I've stipulated before, says nothing about applying these motivations to the creators of art and literature; all of these extrapolations are mine.

In contrast, while I grounded my concepts of the goal-affects "glory" and "persistence" in philosophical observations about "real life" as formulated by Hobbes and Schopenhauer, I formulated these categories for the purpose of analyzing literary constructs.  Such constructs have a logic that is often extrapolated from real experience but has its roots in the freedom of the mind from reality, as I asserted in LET FREEDOM RIDE PT. 4:

...art is fundamentally about play, even when that play is turned to the purpose of utilitarian work.

Fukuyama, though he's oriented upon the realities of political life, shows an admirable understanding of the many-faceted nature of his categories.  *Megalothymia* can manifest both in the concert pianist seeking to be "the best" through competition with his equals, but it can also manifest in a tyrant like Stalin or Pol Pot, whose ideas of "excellence" are confined to slaughtering hordes of defenseless peoples to intimidate the living. *Isothymia* can manifest as Nelson Mandela going to jail for years to promote equal standards for Black Africans, but it can also manifest in "men without chests," endlessly prating about "equity" regardless of any other considerations.

Now, literary constructs must and will reflect all these facets, but their behavior is an extension of their authors' will; they reflect what they consider good or bad. In a strange way, literary characters are "un-free" so that their audiences may obtain a wider understanding of the nature of freedom (also discussed in the previous citation).

Thus audiences can admire how well a given character, even if he or she is evil, incarnates a particular goal-affect. I devoted this essay to specifying the different ways in which the villainous Fu Manchu and the monstrous Victor Frankenstein incarnate the affects of "glory" or of "persistence" respectively. The same essay also references differing goal-affects in characters who are meant to be dominantly sympathetic: the respective ensembles of the TV shows LOST IN SPACE ("persistence") and THE LOST WORLD ("glory.")  An overly politicized critic could foolishly align both of the negative figures with the negative aspect of *megalothymia,* because they kill or tyrannize, and the teleseries-heroes with the positive aspect of *isothymia,* because these heroes are sometimes seen protecting the weak or innocent. However, that would be a correlation informed too much with the very sort of "either-or" utilitarianism to which my system is opposed.

Having shown some ways in which Fukuyama and the goal-affect theory do not correlate, the next essay will consider a Bataillean approach to the goal-affects.

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