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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...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

JOINED AT THE TRIP PT. 3

I suppose that the main reason I felt the impetus to expatiate on the differences between my goal-affect theory and Fukuyama's "thymotic theory" is that PART 1  deals with the relationships of fictional sex and violence, and because I've defined *megalothymia* and *isothymia* as being dominantly aligned with violence and sex, respectively, as in the 2009 essay VIOLENCE *AIN'T* NUTHIN' BUT SEX MISSPELLED PART 2:

While there are ways in which sexual partners can attempt to "assault" one another-- ways which include, but are not confined to, rape-- sex is dominantly isothymic, in that sex usually requires some modicum of cooperation. Violence, then, dominantly conforms to Fukuyma's megalothymic mode insofar as it usually involves a struggle of at least two opponents in which one will prove superior to the other, though in rare cases fighters may simply spar with no intent of proving thymotic superiority.

However, though I'm sure I've emphasized, possibly to the point of tedium, that art should not be gauged in terms of what Jung called "the principle of serious work," I may not have made clear that fictional sex and violence are not as easily assignable to the two thymotic categories as are their real counterparts.

The example of "non-violent sex" cited in LEAD US NOW INTO TRANSGRESSION-- SWAMP THING #34-- certainly does represent *isothymia* at its finest. Over the course of previous issues the ongoing association of Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane has caused them to fall in love. Once they've acknowledged that love, Swamp Thing wants them to enjoy the closest thing they can to sexual interaction. Abby eats a tuber grown from Swamp Thing's mossy back. The result is that the differences of human and plant are transcended as their spirits intertwine in a metaphysical version of Bataille's "sensuous frenzy."




However, in fiction "non-violent sex" does not exclude all possibilities of *megalothymia.* 

The Superman-Lois Lane relationship is so iconic that it's frequently become a target for its alleged anti-feminist qualities, as discussed in more detail here.  This discussion does not touch on sex as such, since it was a given that the Superman comics could not allude to sexuality beyond lingering looks and the occasional lip-lock-- though in WORLD'S FAIR COMICS #1, Superman does get an interesting "ride."




As I don't have a scanner I'm relegated to description of the rest. Superman, who will often complain of Lois getting on his back in a purely figurative sense, finds that the lady reporter had literally grabbed hold of him. When she won't remove herself, he does a somersault. She isn't dislodged exactly, but the next panel shows her no longer holding him, as she says, "That was fun, let's do it again!" This is probably the closest that a juvenile-oriented publication could come to showing a man and woman enjoying a good sensuous frenzy, though Superman is rather disoriented by Lois' ardor and quickly flees the premises.  

Silver Age SUPERMAN stories have, with some justice, drawn some criticism for portraying the Superman-Lois romantic relationship as one in which the male uses guile rather than violence to assert his will over the female, usually with the excuse of "teaching her a lesson" to correct her feminine snoopiness and self-assertiveness. Granted, this are stories about "romance," not "sex," but it's not hard to imagine how the same deceptiveness could be employed in more explicit situations.




At the same time, though Mort Weisinger would never win any awards for gender equity, he was too savvy an entertainer not to change things up a bit from time to time, so that the girls-- with whom the female readers would presumably identify-- could win one.



In both of these stories, Superman and his prospective girlfriends trick and deceive one another to gain the upper hand.  I define this sort of story as an entirely non-violent manner of seeking *megalothymia* in a sexually based relationship, for all that there is no sex as such.  Stories like this are worth considering as a corrective to the Wertham-ite notion that violence is the best indicator of the human desire for dominance.  Again, both sex and violence possess such propensities, falling in line with my earlier expressed maxim, "Might makes ego."

In PART 2 I said that I would review the goal-affects with resort to Bataille, but that will have to wait for PART 4.




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