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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, October 28, 2017


Here's an illustration of the difference between "struggle" and "combat," one that doesn't invoke Kantian concepts like "dynamic-sublime."

Character A uses Force X to push character B backward.

At the same time, Character C uses the same amount of kinetic energy, Force X, to push character D backward.

The amount of power exercised by A and C is thus identical. However, the act as a whole is different when we learn that:

Character B is standing at the edge of a water-filled pool, and will fall into deep water if he loses his balance.

Character D is standing at the top of a long stairway, with many many steps to fall if he loses his balance.

In THE THREE PART HARMONY OF DYNAMICITY, I designated three separate terms for assigning a level of power to any given character. I'll arbitrarily cut these down to two for the purpose of this thought-experiment, and say that any demonstration of personal power that does not reach the highest level, "the megadynamic," automatically falls into one lower category, that of "the mesodynamic." Often, whenever I've parsed out the level of power a given character possesses, I've utilized close textual reading to decide whether or not there's any proof in the text that allows me to rate the personal power or, say, Hamlet in comparison to Coriolanus. I found, in other essays on dynamicity, that Coriolanus had a valid claim to megadynamicity while Hamlet's claim was not nearly as strong.

But in the parallel examples offered above, nothing is said about the power-level or even the skill-level of the persons performing the act of assault. They use the exact same force in both cases, so it's impossible to judge if one possesses more than the other. However, the person assaulted in the second situation is more likely to be seriously harmed than the person in the first situation. Granted, Character B may fall into the pool and hit his head on the concrete surrounding the pool, or there may be other complications that keep Character B from keeping afloat in the pool. But these are special cases, whereas when Character D goes off the top of the stairway, it's very likely he will be injured by that fall no matter what his particular circumstances (barring things like the power of invulnerability and so on).

So in this parallel situation we have someone exerting the same amount of force-- which may or may not indicate how strong the character doing the pushing is-- but the result of one shove is unlikely to result in serious injury, and the result of the other is extremely likely. So "intent" can have some effect upon the dynamicity of a given character's actions, even when the actual force may not be all that spectacular.

I addressed the question of "intent vs. execution" in this 2015 essay, where I considered two films in which the culminating fight-scene was not executed very well. Yet I judged that one of the two films conveyed the general sense of a battle between opposed megadynamic forces, because this seemed to be the general *intent* of the director, while the director of the other film did not provide even slight textual clues to indicate his protagonist's power. Using the current set of terms, I would say that the former film exhibited "combat" while the latter exhibited only "struggle," but here the subject of intent was extra-diegetical. In the parallel situations above, "intent" is intra-diegetical; each character providing the push-force is aware of how much potential damage will wreak on the person pushed. Character A is not likely to think that a fall in a pool will seriously harm Character B, while Character C knows that a fall down a stairwell will add enough kinetic force to the original Force X to seriously injure Character D.

Thus, in terms of the context of the respective acts, Character A's act is that of mesodynamic struggle, while Character C's act is that of megadynamic combat.

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