Re: [mythsoc] Types, Stereotypes and Archetypes.
- I feel that this issue is kind of bound to fall into the realm of personal opinion. (What doesn't, I know, but I mean this issue in particular.) It is similar to gender issues, where if you put 10 people in a room you'll get 10 different takes on what is or isn't derogatory. Of course, there are examples where it's so blatant that more people are going to see the same thing-- but even then, intent becomes an issue. For instance, many people seemed to think that Louis Armstrong's work in his later career amounted to a minstrel show, that he was an "uncle tom," etc, yet most of the musicians that worked with him seemed to agree in this one respect--he was being completely genuine, and had no such intentions or thoughts.I wrote a novel where some of the characters came to believe that they were the present incarnations of demigods/mythic figures, and the more that archetype took hold of them, the less free will, and the less "dimensionality" they had as individuals. Those personas took over. I also explored this issue in regard to the suicide of authors such as Mishima and Hunter, where it seemed almost as if it was, to some extent, the generalized character of the individuals in question that required their stories to end. So, I agree that there's a lot of interesting discussion to be had in this area, I have just also found that like most issues that raise interesting discussion, there are no final conclusions that can be reliably drawn.
"Nothing on the face of this earth—and I do mean nothing—is half so dangerous as a children’s story that happens to be real, and you and I are wandering blindfolded through a myth devised by a maniac."
— Master Li Kao (T’ang Dynasty)
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On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM, <scribbler@...> wrote:
Heh. Okay, first, "Scribbler" = "She". I forgot that all that's showing up
is my email. The "she" would be Sarah Beach. :D
But onward to Orcs -- Darrell, I would really disagree with Tolkien
treating all the orcs as stereotypes, at least the way most people use
that term, to indicate a lack of individuality and scope. It seems to me
that orcs are "by nature" rather shallow creatures, greedy, self-serving
if given a chance, fairly easily cowed if something or someone more
powerful is nearby. But the orcs that fight over Merry & Pipping in Rohan
are distinct individuals, the orcs in the tower at the top of the pass
seemed individualistic and not stereotyped. Even among the orcs, Tolkien
gave the characters personality and scope. Limited, yes, but not flat.
If any character in The Lord of the Rings comes close to being a
stereotype, I would say that it is Aragorn, once past the Council of
Elrond. He becomes the Sterling Hero (for the most part), reliable,
virtuous. But ... because Tolkien is a good craftsman, you can hold onto
that for too long. He has his moments of uncertainty, and touches of humor
(lecturing Merry about footsoldiers who lose their gear when all the time
he could see Merry's pack).
But going back to where this started about ethnic stereotypes - I don't
think citing Morgan Freeman roles is going to get you to instances of
"magic negro", mainly because Freeman elevates the material he works with,
and also well, the roles he gets are more likely to be written without the
blindness that leads to "magic negro."
A *better* example, I'd think, would be Scatman Crothers in Kubrik's
version of THE SHINING. I remember when the film came out and I was rather
disappointed that the development for that character was ...
"stereotypical". But what also struck me when I saw it in the theater was
the number of blacks who were in the audience. At that time, so FEW films
had mixed ethnic casts at all that they'd show up for ANYONE black. I
wasn't blind to the issue before, but THAT day made me so much more
conscious of the need to put more depth into the presentation of
The "magic Indian" is equally stereotypical -- the "it's his heritage:
he's a great tracker/hunter!"
> Scribbler makes a useful point, but in some ways his remark about the
> universal undesirability of stereotypes may have overreached. It may be
> an over-generalization, which is a member species of the literary genus
> under consideration.
> It triggered a question in me, not yet formed into an opinion, whether
> J.R.R. Tolkien's Orcs may be an intentional stereotype. That is, they
> are deliberately limited in their depth, are seldom seen as individuals,
> and have racial characteristics which are unrelentingly negative. Even
> when an uncommon Orc appears with a name and a physical description, he
> is an exaggerated version *of* the stereotype, not a variation *from* it.
> In my opinion one of Peter Jackson's greatest failings in interpreting
> Tolkien's world is his (Jackson's) Orcs. It is understandable that
> Jackson, as a filmmaker, wants to make his Orcs interesting. However,
> while the result is possibly still tolerable even for a Tolkien purist,
> whether it is defensible is another matter entirely.
> To Tolkien, that Orcs are boring, interesting only in the aggregate and
> only then as sword fodder, is part and parcel of their nature. If that
> is not a stereotype, then what is?
> The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
- I just got an email from Kent State Press saying they'd shipped mine! :) It's been backordered for ... a while now.--Margaret DeanOn Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM, Doug Kane <dougkane@...> wrote:All,It has come to my attention that Verlyn Flieger's new book, Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien is now available for purchase, both directly from the publisher, Kent State University Press, and from Amazon and other retailers. This book was originally due to be published last August, but was delayed by the publisher. It doesn't seem to have been well publicized that the book is now available, so I thought I would spread the word. I obviously don't need to emphasize how perceptive Verlyn's observations about Tolkien are. Most of you are well aware of that fact!Doug