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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...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

CENTRIC AND DIFFUSE WILL PT. 3

This essay is not only a follow-up to parts one and two in the series, but also to the April essay RADICAL CONFLICTS. In addition, the endeavor to expand upon the conceptual word-pair and "centric/ diffuse" is also an attempt to formulate better language for the way in which a "dominant" story element achieves dominance over other elements.

Back in 2011, in essays like this one, I put forth the distinction of "dominant" and "subdominant" elements, and said of the latter:

"Subdominant” indicates that a given narrative makes extensive use of the elements of one mythos even though the narrative as a whole fits another mythos better.
But I never made extensive use of these terms. The word "dominance" descends from the Latin dominus, meaning a lord or master,  and this imagery more or less accords with the thoughts I expressed in JUNG AND SOVEREIGNTY. And yet, though I don't reject any of these meditations, in recent years I've been drawn less to the image of a "master" lording it over lesser elements, and more drawn to the image of the circle. If a given narrative has elements characteristic of all four Fryean mythoi, one may see the centermost circle as being the myth-radical that most determines the total content of the narrative.  Below is one of the few images I could find on the Web, in which four circles (the four mythoi) are contained within a greater circle, but one of the inner circles, the smallest, approximates occupies the center position--though it's smaller than I'd like insofar as providing a useful illustration.




With this model in mind it's more feasible to see how the author of a given narrative may allow the "sphere" of his narrative to encompass all four moods represented by the four myth-radicals. In this essay I used BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER teleseries as an example of a narrative-- admittedly, an extended narrative compose of several interrelated stories-- in which the authors sought to put their central character through all four of the psychological situations that Theodor Gaster calls his moods of "the invigorative," "the jubilative," "the purgative," and "the mortificative" (cited with greater detail in the above-cited AFFECTS VS. MOODS). My conclusion, of course, was that the "centric will" of the extended narrative focused upon providing the audience with invigorative scenes of Buffy triumphing over assorted enemies.

In RADICAL CONFLICTS I alluded briefly to Aristotle's use of two terms, "simple" and "complex," which the philosopher linked to whether or not a given work possessed a particular sttrucuring element, that of the *anagnorisis.* I'll now proceed to swipe his categories for my own use.

Many narratives, extended or otherwise, never stray from one dominant myth-mood, and so these would be *simple* narratives. But if there is a pronounced use of even one other mood-element, then the narratives would be *complex.* Buffy is an example of a "sphere" that encompasses all four radicals. In the ADVENTURE/COMEDY VS. COMEDY/ADVENTURE, PART 1,  I cited two extended narratives, that of the BATMAN teleseries and the INFERIOR FIVE comic book series, which I then believed to be concentrated largely upon the invigorative and jubilative moods. I later modified this view with regard to BATMAN, in that I found a sort of gentle irony pervading that narrative. However, even INFERIOR FIVE, with only two discernible moods, would be complex, and its illustration would look something like this, where "B" was the center radical, that of comedy, while "A," representing the radical of adventure. was somewhat off to the side.



In the above example, then, the radical of jubiliation / comedy would incarnate the *centric will* of the narrative, while the radical of invigoration / adventure would be relegated to the narrative's *diffuse will."

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