Re: [mythsoc] Types, Stereotypes and Archetypes.
- I like all you have to say here, Darrell - and I pretty much agree with it.
Even down to the discussion of Aragorn. I admit that I linked him and
"stereotype" for shock value, and because it's quite true that a less
sophisticated reader would indeed consider him a stereotype.
But I also agree that Tolkien's artistry in writing Aragorn is such that
you can't really leave him at the "flat generalization" level. His easy
comraderie when the hobbits first meet him is not the image of a sterling
upright hero - he's savvy, shrewed and not without dry humor. Therein lies
Tolkien's skill: he introduces us to Aragorn as Strider and shows us the
characters much more accessible qualities before we learn the real weight
of his destiny.
Heh. There may be a paper topic there. But not from me at present. :D
> 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.
- 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