SUPERHEROES ARE DAMN-NEAR EVERYWHERE #109
1 hour ago
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...
The three phenomenal domains of my NUM-theory operate in what I deem an archetypal sense. Different artists are drawn toward images and tropes that promise, or at least suggest, different types of freedom. What Joseph Conrad deems to be artistic freedom relates to the perceived rigor of the naturalistic, while J.R.R. Tolkien associates freedom with marvelous creations like green suns. Yet both, as much as "heavy thinkers" like Gaster and Schopenhauer, are alike in searching for the formula that gives them a sense of transpersonal fulfillment-- which, in the last analysis, is what all persons, of all races and creeds, desire when they speak of their need for freedom. Yet it is a freedom that is only possible in terms of perspectivism and pluralism-- and any creed that takes a different stance is merely seeking the fulfillment of some favored group or groups.
First the rites of mortification, symbolizing the temporary eclipse of the community. Next the rites of purgation, by which all noxious elements that might impair the community's future welfare are eliminated. Then the rites of invigoration, aimed at stimulating the growth of crops, the fecundity of humans and beasts, and the supply of needed sunshine and rainfall throughout the year. Finally, when the new lease is assured, come the rites of jubilation; there is a communal meal at which the members of the community recement their bonds of kinship by breaking bread together, and at which their gods are present.
In order to escape from the horrors of insulated selfhood most men and women choose, most of the time, to go neither up nor down, but sideways. They identify themselves with some cause wider than their own immediate interests, but not degradingly lower and, if higher, higher only within the range of current social values. This horizontal, or nearly horizontal, self- transcendence may be into something as trivial as a hobby, or as precious as married love. It can be brought about through self-identification with any human activity, from running a business to research in nuclear physics, from composing music to collecting stamps, from campaigning for political office to educating children or studying the mating habits of birds.Huxley only mentions political activities as one example, but I think it's inarguable that all such activities represent a "cause wider than [one's] immediate interests." Marxist critics would of course have little interest in Huxley's concepts of "upward transcendence" and "downward transcendence," since these would, like the works of Frye and Gaster, involve some validation of religion as an essential aspect of humankind's expressivity. It would be interesting, then, to explore the works of an ideologue like Noah Berlatsky, or one of his myrmidons, for the purpose of seeing how they represent proper human fulfillment as it's represented in fiction, since those expressed ideals would probably present a mirror-image of their own ideas of transcendent fulfillment. Maybe in a Part 2--