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Re: [mythsoc] Types, Stereotypes and Archetypes.

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  • Darrell A. Martin
    Sarah: I am going to use your thoughtful comments as a springboard for some musings that may or may not relate to what you are saying. That disclaimer aside
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 30, 2012

      I am going to use your thoughtful comments as a springboard for some
      musings that may or may not relate to what you are saying. That
      disclaimer aside ...

      Stereotypes, simplifications, types, tropes (when worn by overuse into
      cliches), and others I have not named because they do not occur to me at
      the moment, are species of the genus "Generalizations". Archetypes,
      ideals, and metaphors are not, although they are related.

      Generalization is a powerful tool for effective thinking. An inability
      to generalize appropriately is at the root of many linguistic,
      psychological, and social problems. When information can be assigned to
      categories, then appropriate responses are possible which require less
      effort -- and less need for more information -- than otherwise.

      My formal education is a B.A. in Psychology. Ironically, I was
      diagnosed, in my late 40s, with Attention Deficit Disorder. A great deal
      of this limitation centers on not being able to properly categorize, and
      so often ignore, incoming information. The result is that *everything*
      has to be attended to, and investigated, until something breaks through
      and grabs focus; then nothing unrelated to that focus gets any
      attention, until the next thing breaks in. Autism is similar in some

      Generalization has utility. When interacting with this group, I assume
      that its members are above average in intelligence, consider reading an
      important part of life, and have a baseline of knowledge about the
      writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. That these
      assumptions may be inaccurate in a specific case is clear, but mostly

      Stereotypes, specifically, have utility or they would not exist. That is
      true in both literature and life. If that is a defense, it is an
      incomplete one, but the utility is real. We create, and use, stereotypes
      because doing so *works* for us.

      Some will react negatively to that last paragraph because it questions
      an institutionalized belief. Most of us are impacted by the subculture
      which rejects all generalizations about people as ipso facto "evil",
      especially when it involves race, religion, or ethnicity. Recent
      additions to that anathematized list include physical or mental
      handicaps, gender, and sexual orientation. To suggest that some
      categories based on these forbidden characteristics might be both useful
      and appropriate, is not seen as an invitation to discussion, but as the
      promulgation of heresy.

      Aragorn is, in my opinion, an ideal. He is not merely a somewhat
      differentiated member of a group with a limited number of simple
      characteristics. Tolkien presents him as a man to admire and emulate.

      The son of Arathorn is also a member of a number of groups, and clearly
      sees group cohesion as valuable in its own right. He is a Dunadan, with
      all that entails. He is a member of the Fellowship. He is Elf-friend,
      royal by inheritance through carefully recorded ancestry, and a fearsome

      Whether one calls him Strider, or Elessar, he is also an implacable foe
      of Orcs, Sauron, and those who align with them. He wants to know of any
      he encounters, "Are you with us or against us?" Nuanced reasons do not
      interest him if the answer is "against", and he never loses sight of who
      "us" is. He is the antithesis of that vocal elite who insist that people
      must never be seen primarily as members of a group -- except by their
      choice, when they think it convenient -- but only as individuals (an
      exception is permitted for male traditional Christians of northern
      European ancestry).

      Aragorn may question his own role, or doubt his eventual success, but he
      never wonders which side he is on.

      If his qualities seem shallow, or outdated in the early 21st Century,
      then his presentation as an ideal will be jarring. If one does not like
      this sort of thing, then Aragorn is most certainly the sort of character
      one will not like. But he is no stereotype.

    • Margaret Dean
      I just got an email from Kent State Press saying they d shipped mine! :) It s been backordered for ... a while now. --Margaret Dean margdean56@gmail.com On
      Message 33 of 33 , Feb 13, 2012
        I just got an email from Kent State Press saying they'd shipped mine!  :)  It's been backordered for ... a while now.
        --Margaret Dean
        On Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM, Doug Kane <dougkane@...> wrote:

        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!

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