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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, September 17, 2016

THE AMAZING TRANSITIVE MEDITATIONS

Currently I have only three entries listed under the rubric "transitive effect," but said effect has been implied in many of my posts throughout the years. In this post I'll try to bring some of these jumbled concepts together, starting by repeating my favored definition of "transitive" from the Free Dictionary:
 
Expressing an action carried from the subject to the object;
requiring a direct object to complete 
meaning. Used of a verb or verb construction.
Without re-reading my blog from the beginning, I would guess that the earliest post in which the transitive effect was mentioned, but not specified, came about when I tried to decide whether or not within a given fictional work the mere presence of an *agon,* a major combat-scene, determined that the work would belong to the mythos of adventure. The 2010 essay DOMINANCE, SUBMISSION drew comparisons between two works by the author Rider Haggard: KING SOLOMON'S MINES, which does feature "a battle at the center of the plot-action," and SHE, which has some very invigorating fight-scenes but "does not center around a final battle between a hero and {an] antagonist." To reword this argument in new terms, KING SOLOMON'S MINES clearly falls into the mythos of adventure because the climax forms a "transitive effect" between the subject-- that is, the "significant value," or theme, behind the story-- and the object, consisting of the "narrative values" of plot and characters. In contrast, though, 

Though in later essays I would debate as to whether the later Haggard work SHE qualified as an "adventure" or "drama," in this essay I still favored the idea that it was an adventure-story. Yet I observed that:

...the agonistic radical in SHE has become relatively submissive compared to its manifestation in KING SOLOMON'S MINES-- though of course the agon-radical of SHE is more pronounced than it is in a work dominated by another radical. 

Or to restate it in current terms: despite all the elements that give SHE the semblance of an adventure, the possibility of a climactic conflict becomes "submissive"-- I would say "intransitive" now-- because there's a greater emphasis upon the titular character meeting her fate through sheer hubris. Thus the narrative values of plot and character, which suggest the culmination of adventure, are undermined by the significant value, the theme of Ayesha's hubris. 

I continued over the years to emphasize the importance of judging the completion of the myth-radical in terms of the narrative's climax, best epitomized by my 2013 essay-title PASSION FOR THE CLIMAX. At the same time, I've also pointed out how elements that are established at the beginning of a given work can also have an "intransitive effect."  I devoted three essays-- here, here, and here-- to the topic of 'subcombative superheroes," which is to say, characters who might seem to participate in the combative mode of the "normative superhero" but who do not do so. Part 3 is of particular interest to the manifestation of the "intransitive effect" in that I dissect three superhero comedies-- one of which is truly combative, one which is subcombative because it lacks the significant value of the combative mode, and one which is subcombative because it lacks the narrative value of the combative mode.

I've also devoted a great deal of space to the transitive or intransitive effects of characters who are only allies to the central heroes, rather than belonging to an ensemble of featured characters. PASSION FOR THE CLIMAX makes reference to the final scenes of Tim Burton's 2012 DARK SHADOWS. The film ends with the main character Barnabas being defeated  by his foe Angelique; however, that villain is then destroyed by forces that are strongly allied to the protagonist. Another example appears in my review of the 1968 film BARBARELLA. The heroine displays an efficient level of dynamicity when she shows off her ability to fight off foes with a ray-gun, but it is the rebels she inspires, rather than her personally, who defeat the main villain.

However, in these examples the transitive effect is only possible because the main protagonists demonstrate that they participate in the highest, "megadynamic" level of dynamicity, even though, going by the categories established here, Barbarella would only be on the "exemplary" level of megadynamicity, while the Burton-Barnabas would be on the "exceptional" level.

In contrast, I have repeatedly demonstrate an "intransitive effect" when the main hero is not megadynamic, even if he or she is aided by megadynamic allies, as seen in this essay. where the "underperforming" protagonists of DOCTOR WHO and of MIGHTY MAX receive aid from megadynamic assistants, respectively "K-9" and "Norman." The same principle applies to stand-alone works like 1962's THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES, where the titular strongman is outfought by a modern muscle-guy allied to the weakling Stooges. The sense that the central hero rates only as a mesodynamic or microdynamic figure undermines the significant value of the combative, even when said hero may briefly command megadynamic forces, as seen in my analyses of the "genie-allies" seen in the 1934 film BABES IN TOYLAND and the 1961 film THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN.  The latter film is of particular relevance because its subcombative conclusion is clearly derived from the climax of the 1924 THIEF OF BAGDAD-- which is, of course, maintains a combative mode because the hero himself is of a megadynamic nature.



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