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6 hours 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...
I’m a fan of great comics. If it’s not great comics–then I hope it burns in hell with all of its friends.There's no substance in this sort of showboating, of course, especially when it's more than evident that many other critics-- possibly including Stone-- would not hesitate to let Marston's WONDER WOMAN "burn in hell."
There’s not that much to Superman or Batman. They’re pulp action heroes, period. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was deliberately, ideologically feminist, sexual, and even messianic. Marston made it work, and made it popular — those original comics were hugely successful.He praises the imaginative elements of Marston's WONDER WOMAN:
Amazons playing bondage games where they dress up as deer and eat each other; giant spacefaring kangaroos with extra lungs; evil midget hypnotists who ensorcell women in order to draw forth pink, ropy gobs of ectoplasm; cross-dressing snowmen — Marston is a cracked genius, whose exhilaratingly, perversely sexual feminist, queer, pacifist vision still looks, 60 years later, like it’s 100 years ahead of its time.
Though I agree with NB that Marston's WONDER WOMAN is unique in having
more of an organized theme than other genre comics of its time, the
theme alone is not what makes it good, and the lack of a coherent theme
does not make SUPERMAN or BATMAN bad.
The very thing Berlatsky praises in WONDER WOMAN-- the visual craziness of flying kangaroos, winged nymphs, et al-- is just as present in the Batman comics of the day. A guy who looks like a human penguin, another guy with half his face burnt up? How is this not as imaginative in its own way, even if it partakes more of pulp detective fantasies than Greek Myth?
Early Superman isn't on the same imaginative level, I'll give you that, but it gets there with bottled cities, a guy who swear eternal vengeance 'cause he lost his hair, and so on.This is the "unreflective" aspect of such ideologically-oriented "reflective criticism," its unrelenting lack of ability to see the continuity between works in interrelated genres.
I suspect what Noah likes is the "ideological" side of WONDER WOMAN, not the imaginative elements as such.
“I must hold in balance the sense of the futility of effort and the sense of the necessity to struggle; the conviction of the inevitability of failure and still the determination to 'succeed'-and, more than these, the contradiction between the dead hand of the past and the high intentions of the future. If I could do this through the common ills-domestic, professional and personal-then the ego would continue as an arrow shot from nothingness to nothingness with such force that only gravity would bring it to earth at last.” -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, THE CRACK-UP.
It was Schelling who tried to articulate this vision of the true nature of the relation of God, nature, and self-consciousness in his Philosophy of Identity-- so called because the relation was to be one of identity...The vision was of course not a sensuous intuition, but an intellectual intuition.
The triumphant march of the natural sciences throughout the 19th century turned speculation qua intellectual intuition into speculation qua unwarranted by any acceptable evidences.
It is typical of reflective philosophy... that it relies on arguments, proofs, and the whole apparatus of logic... that it tries to solve intellectual puzzles rather than give the true conceptual vision of the whole; that it sticks to the natural sciences as the source of the only reliable knowledge of nature, thus committing itself... to a concept of experience reduced to sense perception, and to a concept of sense perception reduced to some causal chain...
It is clear that criticism cannot be a systematic study unless there is a quality in literature which enables it to be so. We have to adopt the hypothesis, then, that just as there is an order of nature behind the natural sciences, so literature is not a piled aggregate of "works," but an order of words. A belief in an order of nature, however, is an inference from the intelligibility of the natural sciences; and if the natural sciences ever completely demonstrated the order of nature they would presumably exhaust their subject. Similarly, criticism, if a science, must be totally intelligible, but literature, as the order of words which makes the science possible, is, so far as we know, an inexhaustible source of new critical discoveries, and would be even if new works of literature ceased to be written. If so, then the search for a limiting principle in literature in order to discourage the development of criticism is mistaken. The absurd quantum formula of criticism, the assertion that the critic should confine himself to "getting out" of a poem exactly what the poet may vaguely be assumed to have been aware of "putting in," is one of the many slovenly illiteracies that the absence of systematic criticism has allowed to grow up. This quantum theory is the literary form of what may be called the fallacy of premature teleology. It corresponds, in the natural sciences, to the assertion that a phenomenon is as it is because Providence in its inscrutable wisdom made it so. That is, the critic is assumed to have no conceptual framework: it is simply his job to take a poem into which a poet has diligently stuffed a specific number of beauties or effects, and complacently extract them one by one, like his prototype Little Jack Homer.
True, men might say that a woman (or a representation thereof) is “hot,” or even that they’d “do her.” But that’s an evaluation of a body, or a statement of what one would be willing to do to it, not a statement about the internal experience of the male in question. Despite these words’ aggression, they are a defensive way of speaking about a primal experience so strong that it alters even the way our brains process information. “I’d fuck her” usually really means “I want to fuck her but know I can’t.”
"Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there,
The one has passion's craving crude for love,
And hugs a world where sweet the senses rage;
The other longs for pastures fair above,
Leaving the murk for lofty heritage."-- Goethe, FAUST.
Heroes and villains are more focused on “grand gestures,”made in defiance of consequences. Not all villains are larger-than-life like the Joker: Batman often fights criminals who are no more than *mesodynamic*... Even the mundane crooks as portrayed in these stories want more than simple survivial. Typically they desire wealth, which may be seen as establishing a form of willed control over their environment. This will to control often manifests in the crooks forming their own society counter to that of honest citizens. Unlike monsters, who are most often seen as forces gone out of control, villains seek to exercise total control, be it of city-neighborhoods or the entire world. The hero responds in turn with his own counter-efforts to control the pernicious counter-society of crime. Those efforts—whether they stem from a vigilante like Batman or a constituted legal authority like Judge Dredd—also go beyond the criteria of simple survival, emphasizing the power of the law to curtail the will of the lawbreakers.
...although the significant value of "conviction" provides an ancillary function in terms of how readers apportion value to different characters in different mythoi, the central value is best covered by the word "stature."Thus the original conception of the term "stature" was to distinguish the different audience-expectations within the four Fryean mythoi, as per this observation:
... the four mythoi each bestow a different type of *stature* upon their focal presences. Given my pluralistic stance, it would be incorrect to assume that a comic hero has *less* stature than a serious hero. The comic hero fulfills the stature appropriate to an unserious character, just as the serious hero does for his endeavors.This stature qualifies purely as a "significant value," given that it depends on the audience's perception of the intentions of the narrative as either comic, dramatic, adventurous or ironic, rather than being a structuring element of the narrative, and thus a "narrative value."
...comic and ironic characters aren't necessarily less powerful overall than those of adventure and drama. What separates them is not lacking power to save themselves, but lacking *stature.*In COMIC HERO VS. COMIC DEMIHERO I extended the term "stature" to apply not only to which of the four mythoi to which the narrative belonged, but also to the four "persona-types" with which I classify focal characters and/or presences.
...although Thunder does indeed have a different "mythos-stature" than a character like Mandrake, given that one belongs to the comedy and the other to adventure, in terms of "persona-stature" the two of them are closer to one another than either is to a demihero character like Thorne Smith's Topper...
I'm currently debating with myself as to whether the "meso, meso, micro" distinction applies across the board to all heroes. It's a possibility that it may that it applies principally to (1) naturalistic heroes like Dirty Harry, (2) uncanny heroes like Zorro and Tarzan, and (3) heroes whose marvelous abilities stem entirely from their weapons, as with (as cited here) Batman.Later, I decided in THE MANY FACES OF MIGHT that the two marvelous characters cited-- Dream Girl of the comics-feature LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and Ben Richards of the teleseries THE IMMORTAL-- qualifies for the "exceptional" level of power, my so-called "x-type," even if they might be on the lower level within that sphere of action.
In other words, it may be impossible or just impractical to speak of such distinctions with regards to characters who possess marvelous intrinsic powers.
...I wondered if this "lowest division of the highest level" rationale might also solve the conundrum I proposed at the end of MEGA, MESO, MICRO PT. 2. To what extent, I asked at the end of the essay, should one consider a character like Dream Girl-- whose future-forecasting power is essentially strategic in nature-- to be exceptional? One might say that she, too, belongs on that "lowest division" level.
... my formulation of three "sympathetic affects"-- "admiration" as a parallel to "fear," "fascination" as a parallel to "dread," and "ecstasis" as a parallel to "awe"-- is more properly a response to Lewis than to Otto. But in my final anslysis both scholars' formulations suffer due to a mutual overemphasis of the antipathetic affects.
The popular origins of “superman": One finds it in the late romanticism of the serial novel; in Dumas pere: The Count of Monte-Cristo, Athos, Joseph Balsamo, for example. So then: many self-proclaimed Nietzscheans are nothing other than … Dumasians who, after dabbling in Nietzsche, “justified" the mood generated by the reading of The Count of Monte-Cristo."-- Antonio Gramsci.
European printing presses of around 1600 were capable of producing 3,600 impressions per workday. By comparison, movable type printing in the Far East, which did not know presses and was solely done by manually rubbing the back of the paper to the page, did not exceed an output of forty pages per day. The vast printing capacities meant that individual authors could now become true bestsellers: Of Erasmus's work, at least 750,000 copies were sold during his lifetime alone (1469–1536). In the early days of the Reformation, the revolutionary potential of bulk printing took princes and papacy alike by surprise. In the period from 1518 to 1524, the publication of books in Germany alone skyrocketed sevenfold; between 1518 and 1520, Luther's tracts were distributed in 300,000 printed copies.
Paula Deen, while planning her brother's wedding in 2007, was asked what look the wedding should have. She replied, "I want a true southern plantation-style wedding." When asked what type of uniforms the servers should wear, Paula stated, "well what I would really like is a bunch of little n*ggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around...It's amazing to see how many online media-sites report that Deen admitted to saying this. What she confirms in her 6-11-13 deposition is that she thought about having a "traditional Southern wedding" in 2007, but did not do so because she anticipated an adverse reaction from the media. I read her entire deposition, and at no time does she claim that she used The Taboo Word in public, or within the hearing of anyone who might be offended by it. Here's what she really says:
I don’t recall that. I recall – I do recall, once again, in my bathroom at the house, and why we would have been in the bathroom, I was probably filming and changing clothes, that’s the only reason why we would have been in that bathroom, they must have run out during my lunch break or something from filming, and I remember us talking about the meal.
And I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I’m wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive.
And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid that somebody would misinterpret.
Paula Deen indicated that she used the N word over 20 years ago. That is not what's being alleged against her. She went as far as telling a guy he was as black as a blackboard. That lady is something else and I'm glad I never supported any of her ventures.
I personally find it to be offensive whenever someone from another race is accused of using the "N" word they are somehow given a pass because of the use of the "N" word by some in the black communities. Let me be the first to say that I find the use of the word by anyone to be wrong.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
On a tangential note, I think that in general most works that focus on the military-- be they naturalistic or otherwise-- tend to emphasize the "emotional tenor" of "persistence" rather than "glory," as those terms were defined here. The military is more often defined by the quality of winning conflicts through group effort rather than individual excellence, and that may be one reason I couldn't view the heroes of STARGATE as fully in the genre of adventure, despite some superficial likenesses.I did not claim that military characters could not possess the persona of the hero. However, such characters' adventures must, in keeping with my alignment of "glory" with the concept of "megalothymia," must show a much more personal stake in a given conflict than one sees in STARSHIP TROOPERS.