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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, December 16, 2017


In OBJECTS GIVEN LUSTER from December 2014, I toyed with the conceit that all of my persona-types could be applied to non-sentient focal presences, addressing a science-fiction tale published by DC Comics story in 1959:

[The story's] focus is the spectacle of an entire world resounding with titanic "tick-tock" sounds, by which planetary doom is averted. This trope loosely aligns the "Tick-Tock World" with the agon of the heroic figure, though I would hesitate to classify this particular focal presence as a "hero."

I'm glad that I added the word "loosely," for the more thought I gave to the matter, the more I came to the conclusion that it was impossible, even in fiction, for a non-sentient presence to be either a hero or a villain. One of my earliest comments on the subject of the persona-types was to the effect that the types I call "heroes" and "villains" were, in Milton's words, "sufficient to stand"-- or to fall, if they so choose. In contrast, the other two types, "monsters" and "demiheroes" are governed by what I've called "existential will," in that they cannot transcend their existence. Further, my association of the "Tick-Tock World's" protective function failed to take into account that the world does not choose to do anything, protective or otherwise; the fact that its physical nature staves off "planetary doom" is merely part of the planet's exotic nature. Therefore, it is as much of a "demihero" as "the Destroyed Earth," the other passive environment discussed in the 2014 essay; the former planet is simply one that manages, even passively, to erect a defense that the other world cannot, much as I've frequently shown sentient demiheroes like Jonathan Harker managing to defend themselves against monsters like Dracula.

And what of the other persona, the monster? Well, I briefly touched on Rene Clair's silent film THE CRAZY RAY for purpose of contrast, saying that, unlike the Destroyed Earth, the focal presence of the Crazy Ray really was the source of "chaos on a global scale," and that in itself would argue a similitude with the persona of the monster. This also applies to other non-sentient phenomena that get out of control, whether they are objects created by man (the mystic statue of the Chimera, seen in this TOMB OF DRACULA story) or have come into being through geologic processes, like the natural wind-tunnel from the serial PERILS OF NYOKA, discussed here. If they possess what I've termed "negative persistence" in excess of their potential for "positive persistence," then they are concepts analogous to monsters; if the converse, they are concepts analogous to demiheroes. Further, most of the "worlds gone wrong" that inhabit science fiction are analogous to monsters, in part because they breed monsters. The Morlocks of Wells' TIME MACHINE and the Mutates born in the film WORLD WITHOUT END-- both discussed here-- would qualify for this persona, as would the Cursed Earth with which Judge Dredd contends in this myth-comics story.

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