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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...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE LINE BETWEEN "FAIR" AND "GOOD"

I recently ran through all of the film-reviews I'd rated for "mythicity" on my film-blog for the past six years, and as I did I noted how many of them had received the rating of either "good" or "superior." Not surprisingly, there weren't a lot of these, and though I didn't amass totals for either "fair" or "poor," my overall impression is that the vast majority of my reviews got a "fair" rating.

When I started the "1001 myths" project in June 2015-- which took in a smattering of earlier blog-reviews-- the only specific statement I made regarding the level of mythicity in the stories selected was this paragraph:

Starting the week of June 28-July 4, I will start posting at least one review of a comic book that meets my criteria for being "mythic." I would like to do two, but that may not be realistic. It's also occurred to me that it might be instructive to post not only an analysis of a consummate "myth-comic," but also one of an *inconsummate* story. Such stories make good counter-examples, in that they will possess myth-elements-- as do all narratives, by virtue of being narratives-- but the story uses them poorly or not to their greatest potential. It might also serve to make clearer that I don't regard "mythic complexity" as some sort of rapture that descends upon the writer as from heaven. Some raptures result only in babbling, while others culminate in a poetry that transcends all the Babel-like confusions of language. 
There's clearly no "rating" associated with my idea of the "consummate 'myth-comic,'" so it's more than a little likely that on some level I associated it even with comics that were either "good" or "superior." I didn't stick with analyzing "null-myths" for very long, but clearly they compare pretty well with the rating of "poor mythicity," partly in line with my remark about "babbling" and partly in line with my formulation of why potentially mythic texts end up as mere null-myths.

...because of my realization that on occasions a given work may have symbolic potential, and yet does not use it because of some flaw in the execution, I've started utilizing "null-myth" as a label for all examples of "frustrated mythicity." Thus far all of the null-myths I've identified thus far have frustrated their potential due to one of two reasons. Either their authors UNDERTHINK the UNDERTHOUGHT-- that is, the authors show some realization of the power of myth-symbols on their own, but said authors use the symbols as if they were static functions, like Joyce's door... Or they OVERTHINK the OVERTHOUGHT, in that they impose some mental straight-jacket around the potentially free-flowing images and symbols. This might include phenomena as intellectually disparate as the over-intellectualizations of figures like Sim and Ditko, as well as instances where some editorial consideration overrides the free flow.-- MORE NULL-MYTH NOODLINGS.
 
So "null-myths" are works in which the mythic potential is "poor"-- but what works are merely "fair" (without yet even getting to the question of what "fair" itself means)? The simplest answer is that these would be the "near-myths" that I started formally identifying in this May 2016 essay, where I wrote:
I've defined a "null-myth" as a narrative that shows potential for mythicity / symbolic discourse but fails to articulate that potential to its best effect. In contrast, "a near-myth" is a part of a narrative that sustains a mythic kernel of meaning, but does not become unified into a fully-developed "underthought" throughout the narrative.
So, to answer my question as to what provides the line between "fair" and "good," it would seem to be the "unity of action" I described in THE UNITY OF OVERTHOUGHTS AND UNDERTHOUGHTS.

I may use this line of thought to a lead-in to another question, regarding whether it's most beneficial to have a "unity" of idea between a work's overthought and underthought, or whether the two exist on essentially separate but intersecting mental planes, not unlike the interdependence of harmony and melody in music.

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