Re: Question on the presentation of myth
- I realize I'm coming dangerously out of lurkdom here, but I find this whole
area extremely interesting, maybe partly because I've been doing some
studying of "On Fairy-stories" lately. These are just thoughts, not
answers; I'm not sure if answers really exist. But I've spent most of my
Saturday morning writing them, so figured I might as well put them out
BTW, Michael and Diane, I've moved some quotes around to try to get *my*
thoughts in a bit of order. Hope you don't mind. 8-)
> Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 05:54:05 -0000I doubt if Tolkien was thinking about holodecks ;-) , but that sounds a
> From: "Michael Martinez" <Michaelm@...>
> Subject: Re: Question on the presentation of myth
> Like the holodeck concept. If you enter the world, can it still be
> mythical? If the audience is drawn into the story, effectively
> eliminating that fourth wall, can the story become mythical, or is it
> merely realism?
lot like his description of fully-realized secondary creation, such as
mortals might find themselves within if they ventured into faërie. That is,
the inhabitants could have the ability to draw mortals completely into their
secondary creation, so that they experience it as primary creation. But I
don't think Tolkien would have called that "realism," because it never
actually becomes primary creation--the inhabitants don't have that
power--and because some things that are real within the secondary creation
wouldn't be able exist outside of it.
>So, perhaps the audio-visual story-tellers cannot afford to leave as-----and-----
> much to the audience's imagination for fear of losing the audience?
> So, the less you show the audience, the more mythical the work isOn these questions, I'd refer back to that secondary creation in faërie,
> free to be. Which is not to say a more fully-revealing work cannot
> be mythical, it just faces a greater challenge?
which completely involves all the senses of the "victim." That doesn't make
it less mythical, but in order to keep it mythical the practitioners have to
be very good at what they do. In a subcreation described in print, one
wrong word or phrase can temporarily or permanently put that "fourth wall"
back up as it reminds us that the subcreation isn't primarily real. IMHO,
the more senses a subcreation tries to capture, the more chances it has to
take a misstep in any one of them, throwing the "victim" out of the reality
of the subcreation. That's why I think it's more difficult, or a greater
challenge, to create believable myth in any medium that touches on multiple
senses--*Each* sense has to handled correctly, or the whole house of cards
>I suppose the question I posed relates to a broader issue of how is it bestto tell
> a story. Is the oral tradition still adequate? Literacy has becomeIn a way, you could say that literacy has pre-empted the oral tradition. I
> a mainstay of our era, but it seems to be falling by the wayside as
> Netspeak and Fox News Network lead new generations toward an
> abbreviated form of communication.
had a theology professor who took us through the structure of the gospels,
showing how they had been written to be heard, not read, as most people were
illiterate. There are conventions within the structure that don't mean
anything to us, but which would have told people who were part of that oral
tradition such things as which passage is most important in a certain
section of the gospel, or which story is meant to be paralleled or mirrored
by another story. I assme there are similar conventions in other oral
traditions, although I haven't studied them so can't really say. It
certainly would have taken a lot of concentration on the listeners' part.
Now that we can read printed words, so don't have to commit things to memory
as we hear them, have we lost some of that ability? IMHO, we haven't lost
the ability--children can be pretty good at it--but we're out of practice.
Children who've been raised with the "short attention span" theory as seen
on _Sesame Street_, etc., are now tiring out their eyes on
multiple-hundred-page Harry Potter books. I think it depends on which
abilities we decide to exercise, and that's going to depend a lot on whether
we see any reasons to exercise them.
> The tendency toward lengthy story arcs, as exemplified by BABYLON-5,I'm not sure what new science fiction shows you're referring to, maybe
> seems to have been reversed among science fiction television shows.
> At least, things seem less complicated than they used to. Is that
> because the producers depended too much upon the intellect of the
> audience, and were driven to revert to a more point-of-contact
> presentation mode?
because I don't have cable TV? The only current phenomenon I've paid any
attention to is _Lost_, a show that definitely has *some* kind of a lengthy
story arc, although we don't actually know what *kind* of story arc it is
yet: science fiction? fantasy? espionage? meta-myth? realism? surrealism?
none of the above? And I think that ambiguity is part of its attraction,
for the audience it wants to attract (it's certainly not everyone's cup of
tea). But what keeps the attraction going is the knowledge that there is a
coherent explanation for everything--at least that's what the creator has
said in interviews. I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of avid
_Lost_ fans are also people who've been reading Tolkien for years; the
experience is somewhat similar. (And the really avid fans tape each episode
so they can go back and watch them over and over because they always seem to
discover something that they missed before... sound familiar?) I've seen
only the first few years of Babylon 5 (before it moved to cable), but the
earlier part of the series--with all the Tolkien allusions--was probably as
much fantasy as it was science fiction. Maybe fantasy (or ambiguity?) is
more story arc friendly than is straight science fiction? Just a thought--I
really have no idea.
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "dianejoy@e..." <dianejoy@e...> wrote:An interesting comparison, because Ted Nasmith's art, specifically, does not
> > That does not apply to art (like Ted Naismith's); somehow,
> > though I'm not sure why. Art like his acts as a springboard,
> > allowing you to imagine something taking place; you enter
> > that world.
allow me to enter that world--because the way he imagines it is so different
from how I imagine it that I can't see it as real. But I should qualify
that: his landscapes can draw me into Middle-earth, but if I see the face
of one of his characters, that's the end of it. They simply do not look
like any of the characters I "know." Because the characters are so central
for me, that's the quickest way to throw me out of my suspension of
disbelief. Different artists have different talents (and different
imaginations), I suppose. Nasmith's landscapes are wonderful for me, and as
long as I avoid any faces, I'm okay (even seeing characters from the back is
usually "safe"). Other artists do--or don't do--other things for me. It
seems to depend on how closely their vision matches mine or, at least, on
how *compatible* their vision is with mine. It's great if they show me
something new, but not if they show me something that contradicts what I