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Re: Star Wars as Mythopoeic art

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  • Ted Sherman
    Star Wars (all the films) are very mythopoeic, if one takes them in their entirety. The newest installment, though panned by many/most critics as not being up
    Message 1 of 29 , Jun 22, 1999
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      Star Wars (all the films) are very mythopoeic, if one takes them in their
      entirety. The newest installment, though panned by many/most critics as not
      being up to the calibre of the earlier films, fits right in with the earlier
      films and begins to set the context for them. That, of course, is one of the
      reasons for the film's being panned. Another is the thesis of the film: that
      there's a wicked trade federation that the noble Jedi warriors must combat.
      Many critics have registered dismay at the banality of a Star Wars film about
      trade disputes, but only because they don't seem to realize that trade
      disputes do say much about the involved countries/nations/planets. Besides,
      Lucas uses the trade dispute issue to set up the reasons for the fall of the
      republic and the setting up of the empire.

      In my fantasy lit courses, I regularly refer to Star Wars because I know the
      students will understand the connection between, say, Gandalf and Obi Wan, or
      Shea Ohmsford and Luke.

      What do the rest of you think?

      Ted Sherman

      Nagy Gergely wrote:

      > From: Nagy Gergely <lamorak@....u-szeged.hu>
      >
      > Hello everyone,
      > glad that the list is coming alive again after a few months or so... This
      > is actually a query that was inspired by the Phantastes post telling that
      > there was a review of the new Star Wars bit in the new issue... I hope
      > Star Wars is a topic not *that* offlist. Any opinions about the new film,
      > or Star Wars, for that matter? Do you think it is appropriate for
      > discussion on this list? Is it like or unlike the work of those authors
      > respected by all of us?
    • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
      I fear I must disagree on the merits of Star Wars as being in the same vein as Tolkien s trilogy. It is two different mediums altogether. Although a great mind
      Message 2 of 29 , Jun 22, 1999
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        I fear I must disagree on the merits of Star Wars as being in the
        same vein as Tolkien's trilogy. It is two different mediums altogether.
        Although a great mind in the field of cinema, George Lucas had the luxury of
        film whereas Professor Tolkien used a canvas of words. George Lucas has done
        much for the movie industry, but I doubt if Star Wars can be called serious
        art. Star Wars is our futile attempt at forging our own myth. Ah, that is
        another problem in our society. However that is not for this time or place to
        discuss.
        Thank you as Always,
        Ron
        P.S. Diane: Ron ydw i.
        Rdwy'n dsygu Cymraeg tipyn bach.
        (I think that is how it's spelled)
      • Jim Bohannon
        Ted, I am in hearty agreement with you. As a matter of fact, I don t even think of Star Wars as science-fiction per se. Sure, it s got gadgets and aliens and
        Message 3 of 29 , Jun 22, 1999
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          Ted,

          I am in hearty agreement with you. As a matter of fact, I don't even
          think of Star Wars as science-fiction per se. Sure, it's got gadgets
          and aliens and what have you, but these are stories so thoroughly
          grounded in the best traditions of world mythology, folklore, and
          religion that it is lifted beyond the sci-fi genre.

          No less an authority than Joseph Campbell was an ardent apologist for
          the mythopoeic veracity of the original Star Wars trilogy. I believe he
          would view the new episode in the same noble light. You have the battle
          of good and evil shaded as light and dark, the advent of the *hero*, and
          the presence of a transcendant universal force.

          I had heard much of the critic's pompous, narrow-sighted blubbering
          before I finally saw "The Phantom Menace" and truly wondered if I was in
          for a disappointment. This was not the case at all! I sat mesmerized,
          not only by the visual magnificence of the movie, but by the story. The
          interweaving of various cultural myths and religious teachings were
          clearly evident and will certainly make the ongoing Star Wars tale a
          worthy subject of study and reflection.

          Blessings,
          Jim Bohannon
          Milledgeville, Georgia
          USA

          Ted Sherman wrote:
          >
          > From: Ted Sherman <beohilde@...>
          >
          > Star Wars (all the films) are very mythopoeic, if one takes them in their
          > entirety. The newest installment, though panned by many/most critics as not
          > being up to the calibre of the earlier films, fits right in with the earlier
          > films and begins to set the context for them. That, of course, is one of the
          > reasons for the film's being panned. Another is the thesis of the film: that
          > there's a wicked trade federation that the noble Jedi warriors must combat.
          > Many critics have registered dismay at the banality of a Star Wars film about
          > trade disputes, but only because they don't seem to realize that trade
          > disputes do say much about the involved countries/nations/planets. Besides,
          > Lucas uses the trade dispute issue to set up the reasons for the fall of the
          > republic and the setting up of the empire.
          >
          > In my fantasy lit courses, I regularly refer to Star Wars because I know the
          > students will understand the connection between, say, Gandalf and Obi Wan, or
          > Shea Ohmsford and Luke.
          >
          > What do the rest of you think?
          >
          > Ted Sherman
          >
        • Jim Bohannon
          ... Jim Bohannon responds: Two different mediums, yes. Not in the same vein ? I think that s stretching it. Just because Tolkein and Lucas have used
          Message 4 of 29 , Jun 22, 1999
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            FrMacKen@... wrote:
            >
            > From: FrMacKen@...
            >
            > I fear I must disagree on the merits of Star Wars as being in the
            > same vein as Tolkien's trilogy. It is two different mediums altogether.

            Jim Bohannon responds:

            Two different mediums, yes. Not in "the same vein"? I think that's
            stretching it. Just because Tolkein and Lucas have used different media
            doesn't invalidate the mythopoeic power of the Star Wars tale.

            > Although a great mind in the field of cinema, George Lucas had the luxury of
            > film whereas Professor Tolkien used a canvas of words. George Lucas has done
            > much for the movie industry, but I doubt if Star Wars can be called serious
            > art.

            What?!! <rubbing my eyes in disbelief> I must respectfully, yet
            vehemently, disagree. The canvases have been different. One of the
            common complaints I hear all the time when a book is made into a movie
            is, "Well, the movie just wasn't like the book." Of course it wasn't.
            How could it be? If two visual artists paint the same subject, one
            using watercolors and the other using acrylics, the result will be two
            completely different pictures. Both, however, can be equally valid and
            beautiful works of art. The one painting uses the best characteristics
            of watercolors, the other uses the best characteristics of acrylic.
            Wouldn't it be rather silly to dismiss the watercolor because "the
            colors aren't as bright and deep" as the acrylic, or to dismiss the
            acrylic "because it lacks the subtlety and pastel qualities" of
            watercolor?

            J.R.R. Tolkein was a master at creating art with words, and George Lucas
            is a master at creating art with film.

            > Star Wars is our futile attempt at forging our own myth.

            Thank God we are still making the attempt! Woe be unto us the day we
            stop!


            Respectfully,
            Jim Bohannon
            Milledgeville, Georgia
            USA
          • Ted Sherman
            True, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings are in different media, but that doesn t invalidate the mythopoeic quality of either. Star Wars is to mythopoeic art
            Message 5 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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              True, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings are in different media, but that
              doesn't invalidate the mythopoeic quality of either. Star Wars is to mythopoeic
              art in film as The Lord of the Rings is to mythopoeic art in literature. Star
              Wars, despite some declarations to the contrary, is not science fiction because
              the emphasis throughout the stories is not on the technology and "scientistic"
              aspect; rather, the emphasis throughout is on the conflict between the Empire and
              the Republic (Rebellion), the Dark side of the Force versus the Light side of the
              Force. While there are blasters, star destroyers, Death Stars, they serve as
              foils to the Force and the true power of the films. Han Solo says in the first
              film that hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good
              blaster. He's the skeptic. Then Luke puts on the blast shield and lets go of his
              rationalism and allows his instinct to feel the power of the force, and he
              successfully wards off the blaster drone. That is fantasy, not science fiction.
              And the epic struggle (though manichean/dualistic) between the dark and the light
              (ala the struggle between the Dark and the Light in Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising
              series) is mythopoeic, especially because Lucas has created a universe in which
              the story is plausible and the mythic quality is retained in the audience even
              after the film is over. Just look at how the phrase "the Force" has entered our
              public consciousness, and compare that with the popularity of "Frodo lives"
              buttons on college campuses in the '60s.

              I'm not sure what you mean, Ron, when you write that Lucas had the luxury of film
              whereas Tolkien used a canvass of words. It seems to me that each (sub)creator
              used the medium that each was most comfortable with; thus, each had the luxury of
              using what was best suited for them. One could just as well write that Tolkien
              had the luxury of words whereas Lucas had to toil with celluloid.

              Ted

              FrMacKen@... wrote:

              > From: FrMacKen@...
              >
              > I fear I must disagree on the merits of Star Wars as being in the
              > same vein as Tolkien's trilogy. It is two different mediums altogether.
              > Although a great mind in the field of cinema, George Lucas had the luxury of
              > film whereas Professor Tolkien used a canvas of words. George Lucas has done
              > much for the movie industry, but I doubt if Star Wars can be called serious
              > art. Star Wars is our futile attempt at forging our own myth. Ah, that is
              > another problem in our society. However that is not for this time or place to
              > discuss.
              > Thank you as Always,
              > Ron
              > P.S. Diane: Ron ydw i.
              > Rdwy'n dsygu Cymraeg tipyn bach.
              > (I think that is how it's spelled)
              >
              > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
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              > Book Club� offers the best sellers and more! Get 5 books for just $.99
              > + 1 free with membership! Go to http://www.onelist.com/ad/doubleday8
              >
              > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
            • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
              Ok, After reading everyone else, I m not going to cut and slash but add my own notes to the discussion. Most of this is from George Lucas interviews given at
              Message 6 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                Ok, After reading everyone else, I'm not going to cut and slash but add my
                own notes to the discussion. Most of this is from George Lucas interviews
                given at various times and from friends we have in common giving me
                information. I will not be giving away spoilers (don't know any more any
                way). So here goes:

                First, George Lucas is a mythology freak. Not only did he take classes in
                college and memorize Joseph Campbell, he is also well read in Tolkien and
                many other Science Fiction and Fantasy writers.

                He never even thought of doing LoTR in film. He always considered that book
                impossible to translate to film with 1970s technology. He did look into
                doing Dune, but someone else had the option.

                That said, after he did THX1138 (which didn't do well) and American Graffiti
                (which did very well), he finally had the freedom to do something he wanted
                to do. He decided to make a "Science Fantasy" as he calls the Star Wars
                Project. And began to write. And Write. And Write... This little movie
                project has more outlines and notes than you would ever believe. There is
                tons more than has ended up on the screen. Or even in his notes. That is why
                one gets the impression at times that we are missing some backstory. That's
                because there is a heck of a lot of backstory nobody has but George and a
                few friends.

                I repeat something I wrote in the last paragraph. George calls this a
                "Science Fantasy". The movies start off: A long time ago in a galaxy far,
                far away..." Does that sound like Science Fiction?

                In a recent interview George stated: It is the story of the Rise and Fall
                and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Redemption, hm, sounds mythic to me. And
                we all thought the story of about Luke. *Bzzt* wrong. The real main
                character is Anakin which is why he, the droid he made and the little R2
                unit are the only characters seen through all 6 movies.

                A lesson from my creative writing teacher in school concerning the amount of
                stuff that will fit into a screenplay: A TV show is a short story. A movie
                is maybe a novelette. Long books will always be cut unmercifully. The best
                you can do is paint the mood of the novel and highlight the main scenes of
                the story. Or else be you can create a viewing marathon like the Russian
                adaptation of War & Peace (18 hours and still not everything in the novel).
                Anypath, you get the idea of what George is working with in his chosen medium.

                By the time we get done with 6 movies, we've got a medium length book of
                story idea. Hardly as complete as one prequel and the three book novel as in
                LoTR.

                But what he gives up in story idea, he gives back in richness of visuals and
                glimpses of a cultures we can all enjoy in all age groups. We first took my
                daughter to see Star Wars when she was 2 1/2 years old. She took her son to
                the re-releases when he was the same age. They immediately understood the
                stories and the dynamics of good and evil and the fantasy and mythic
                qualities. And as an adult I could enjoy the wonderful stories George was
                telling as well. You can't do that with LoTR.

                So, it may not be as "heavy" as LoTR, but I do believe it is an equally
                valid piece of Mythic Fiction and definitely worth discussing.

                George Lucas is one hell of good story teller <g>.

                Mythically yours,

                Lisa
              • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
                Ted and Jim, Although I see what you mean, the fact of the matter is that every movie has to made to sell. Star Wars is a bit of an action movie and as such,
                Message 7 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                  Ted and Jim,
                  Although I see what you mean, the fact of the matter is that every
                  movie has to made to sell. Star Wars is a bit of an action movie and as such,
                  needs some action and certain "Hollywood" pizazz or the studios won't buy it.
                  Even though book publishers are looking for the next best sellers, they are
                  far less demanding on the content of a book than studios are of movies. Who
                  could foresee how good Star Wars could be if Lucas had no demands from the
                  studios? I'm sure as legendary as he is, he still had problems with studio
                  heads getting all his ideas to film.
                  I am not putting down Star Wars at all. However (You just knew that
                  was coming!), painting a picture on canvas is much easier than describing it.
                  Looking foward to anyone's reply for or against me. Differences when
                  aired in an intelligent forum are good for the healthy mind.
                  Ron
                • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
                  So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made the
                  Message 8 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                    So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM
                    MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made
                    the Force material and changed its spiritual aspects as known to us in the
                    earlier film/s?

                    Mary S
                  • Matthew Winslow
                    ... The Force itself is still immaterial. The midichlorians allow one to manipulate/use the Force. That would seem to me to keep the Force as spiritual
                    Message 9 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                      Stolzi@... [Stolzi@...] wrote:
                      > So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM
                      > MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made
                      > the Force material and changed its spiritual aspects as known to us in the
                      > earlier film/s?

                      The Force itself is still immaterial. The midichlorians <sp?> allow one to
                      manipulate/use the Force.

                      That would seem to me to keep the Force as spiritual as ever: it's still the
                      energy binding all life, but now it's only certain bits of life that get to
                      partake of that great Force. (Gosh, that sounds Calvinist <g>.) Of course, in
                      the original trilogy, some were 'strong' in the Force, so now we know *why*
                      they are, but there's still a lot of mysticism left.

                      --
                      Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
                      "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's
                      draft."
                      --H.G. Wells
                      Currently reading: The Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson
                    • Jim Bohannon
                      ... And books aren t??? Even Tolkein & Lewis & Dickens wrote for money, and they had to put out something that the market would pay to see/read. Blessings,
                      Message 10 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                        > From: FrMacKen@...
                        >
                        > Ted and Jim,
                        > Although I see what you mean, the fact of the matter is that every
                        > movie has to made to sell.

                        And books aren't??? Even Tolkein & Lewis & Dickens wrote for money, and
                        they had to put out something that "the market" would pay to see/read.

                        Blessings,
                        Jim
                      • Jim Bohannon
                        ... Mary, I m not Ted, but I ll take this one. This is a pretty strong allusion to the incarnation story in Christianity. In Christianity, God, who is
                        Message 11 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                          Stolzi@... wrote:
                          >
                          > From: Stolzi@...
                          >
                          > So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM
                          > MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made
                          > the Force material and changed its spiritual aspects as known to us in the
                          > earlier film/s?
                          >
                          > Mary S
                          >


                          Mary,

                          I'm not Ted, but I'll take this one. This is a pretty strong allusion
                          to the incarnation story in Christianity. In Christianity, God, who is
                          Spirit, becomes incarate (takes on flesh) in the form of Jesus Christ.
                          In Christianity this is looked at as the strongest evidence of the love
                          of the Creator for the creature. Through the incarnation God identifies
                          with the plight of humanity and all creation.

                          In Phantom Menace, George Lucas weaves in an astonishing variety of
                          world mythical and religious tradition!

                          Blessings,
                          Jim (who, by the way, is a Christian minister)
                        • Ted Sherman
                          Ron, How can I disagree with anything you ve written? You re correct on all counts. Tolkien similarly had to deal with editors and publishers (Rayner Unwin)
                          Message 12 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                            Ron,

                            How can I disagree with anything you've written? You're correct on all counts.
                            Tolkien similarly had to deal with editors and publishers (Rayner Unwin) who were
                            interested in not only a good story, but also in how much money the story would
                            make for the firm. No publisher agrees to publish a work if they think the work
                            will not sell. Remember, Tolkien wanted to publish TLOR as one book, but it was
                            the publisher who suggest (required/demanded) the book be divided. Was that
                            decision made for aesthetic reasons or because of the production costs associated
                            with such a hefty volume? Or was there perhaps a marketing idea involved that by
                            issuing the book in three volumes, the publisher would create a "captive
                            audience" that would keep coming back for more?

                            Both film creators/directors/producers and authors are hindered and obstructed
                            when they attempt to manifest their works. And the same holds for all other
                            artistic or creative endeavors. While still in our minds, the works we create are
                            perfect and flawless, but in the transition from pure thought and image to very
                            limited words on pages or images (concocted by actors interpreting words on
                            pages) on screens, those works get muddied. That's why painters are never (or
                            almost never at least) satisfied with their works. It's also why authors revise
                            and edit ad infinitum. Dorothy Sayers' The Mind of the Maker has much to say on
                            this (and similar) issues.

                            Thanks for keeping me on my toes and for making me think about some things I've
                            not thought of in a while.

                            Ted
                          • Ted Sherman
                            Mary, Great question. Let me attempt an answer by referring to a recent discovery/announcement that Einstein s brain physically differs from ordinary brains.
                            Message 13 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                              Mary,

                              Great question. Let me attempt an answer by referring to a recent
                              discovery/announcement that Einstein's brain physically differs from ordinary
                              brains. One part of it, if my memory is correct, is larger than usual. So, does
                              this physical anomaly account for Einstein's genius and his ability to come up
                              with theories that still defy scientists (and that are gradually being proven
                              true)?

                              I thought the testing of young Anakin's blood for the midichlorians (sp?) was
                              an interesting twist. We learn that the presence (or lack thereof) of these
                              organisms in the blood affects one's ability to feel and use the Force. Young
                              Anakin, we are told, has a higher reading than even Yoda, who, it is implied,
                              has the highest level recorded.

                              Thus, the midichlorians aren't the source of the Force, but they are what allows
                              one to use the Force. In essence, they are like the red fast-twitch muscle
                              fibers that allow certain people (my brother for instance) to be sprinters, or
                              the white (?) slow-twitch muscle fibers that allow others (like me) to be
                              distance runners. Luke obviously has a high midichlorian count, but I would bet
                              Han Solo does not.

                              None of this undercuts the spiritual/mytstical quality of the Force or of
                              Lucas's vision. The vision is not Christian, per se, though it does incorporate
                              Christian elements, just as it incorporates elements of other religious
                              traditions.

                              Yours,

                              Ted

                              Stolzi@... wrote:

                              > From: Stolzi@...
                              >
                              > So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM
                              > MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made
                              > the Force material and changed its spiritual aspects as known to us in the
                              > earlier film/s?
                              >
                              > Mary S
                              >
                              > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                              >
                              > We must be crazy! We're practically giving our books away! Doubleday
                              > Book Club� offers the best sellers and more! Get 5 books for just $.99
                              > + 1 free with membership! Go to http://www.onelist.com/ad/doubleday8
                              >
                              > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                            • WendellWag@xxx.xxx
                              In a message dated 6/23/99 6:21:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, FrMacKen@aol.com ... studio ... If you re talking about _The Phantom Menace_ here, then Lucas
                              Message 14 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                                In a message dated 6/23/99 6:21:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, FrMacKen@...
                                writes:

                                > Who could foresee how good Star Wars could be if Lucas had no demands from
                                > the studios? I'm sure as legendary as he is, he still had problems with
                                studio
                                > heads getting all his ideas to film.

                                If you're talking about _The Phantom Menace_ here, then Lucas didn't have to
                                worry about any demands from the studios. The movie cost $120 million and
                                George Lucas put up every cent of it himself. It was of course distributed
                                by a studio, but no one other than Lucas had any say in the making of it.

                                Wendell Wagner
                              • Diane Baker
                                ... It was a real clunker if you re writing myth. The Force needs no explanation. It simply IS. ---djb.
                                Message 15 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                                  Stolzi@... wrote:
                                  >
                                  > So, Ted, what do you think of the criticism that by introducing in PHANTOM MENACE the microscopic blood particles (?) which make a Jedi, Lucas has made
                                  > the Force material and changed its spiritual aspects as known to us in the
                                  > earlier film/s?
                                  >
                                  > Mary S
                                  >
                                  It was a real clunker if you're writing myth. The Force needs no
                                  explanation. It simply IS. ---djb.
                                • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
                                  Ted, Wendell, and Jim, I was referring to the first Star Wars film. Here is something to ponder: Filmmakers have images to portray their ideas, whereas writers
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                                    Ted, Wendell, and Jim,
                                    I was referring to the first Star Wars film. Here is something to
                                    ponder: Filmmakers have images to portray their ideas, whereas writers use
                                    mere words to invoke their ideas. After all, a picture is worth a thousand
                                    words.
                                    Yours in creative discussion,
                                    Ron
                                  • Jim Bohannon
                                    Ron, You are absolutely right. And as we discussed, the media are different. I for one am rather partial to words. There is a richness in imagery crafted in
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                                      Ron,

                                      You are absolutely right. And as we discussed, the media are
                                      different. I for one am rather partial to words. There is a richness
                                      in imagery crafted in words that visual images can't attain. Words also
                                      offer a depth of enrichment for the soul that is, in my opinion,
                                      unreachable by even the most gifted film producers.

                                      Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think you will agree, we
                                      can chew on the words and digest them slowly. In the long run, they may
                                      be more nourishing than the images. Still, as a visual artist, I can
                                      still appreciate the unique and wonder-filled gift of being mesmerized
                                      by a painting, a sculpture, a movie image, or even a cartoon.

                                      I don't think there has to be a battle over which is superior. It is
                                      all of them working in harmony that makes the world sing. I want you to
                                      know, Ron, I always appreciate your input.

                                      Wishing you peace,
                                      Jim

                                      FrMacKen@... wrote:
                                      >
                                      > From: FrMacKen@...
                                      >
                                      > Ted, Wendell, and Jim,
                                      > I was referring to the first Star Wars film. Here is something to
                                      > ponder: Filmmakers have images to portray their ideas, whereas writers use
                                      > mere words to invoke their ideas. After all, a picture is worth a thousand
                                      > words.
                                      > Yours in creative discussion,
                                      > Ron
                                      >
                                    • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
                                      Jim, I think that this would be a rather boring world if everyone agreed on everything. I think that opinions, when stated thoughtfully, can stimulate the
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Jun 23, 1999
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                                        Jim,
                                        I think that this would be a rather boring world if everyone agreed
                                        on everything. I think that opinions, when stated thoughtfully, can stimulate
                                        the mind. I am glad that no one was offended by my opinion.
                                        Pax Vobiscum,
                                        Ron
                                      • Matthew Winslow
                                        ... I d like to point out that the virgin birth idea (or rather, the God impregnating a woman idea -- which is what TPM is more likely, since we don t know
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                          Jim Bohannon [bohannon@...] wrote:
                                          > I'm not Ted, but I'll take this one. This is a pretty strong allusion
                                          > to the incarnation story in Christianity. In Christianity, God, who is
                                          > Spirit, becomes incarate (takes on flesh) in the form of Jesus Christ.
                                          > In Christianity this is looked at as the strongest evidence of the love
                                          > of the Creator for the creature. Through the incarnation God identifies
                                          > with the plight of humanity and all creation.
                                          >
                                          > In Phantom Menace, George Lucas weaves in an astonishing variety of
                                          > world mythical and religious tradition!

                                          I'd like to point out that the virgin birth idea (or rather, the God
                                          impregnating a woman idea -- which is what TPM is more likely, since we don't
                                          know that Shmi had not experienced, um, 'carnal knowledge' of a man) is common
                                          to many world religion and myth systems besides Christianity. Since Lucas is
                                          following Campbell's idea of the hero, this would seem to point less to a
                                          Christian reference (after all, if we say it's a Christian reference, then we
                                          would have to follow to the conclusion that Lucas is saying Vader is Christ)
                                          than to a mythological reference.

                                          (And, btw, I'm also a Christian.)

                                          --
                                          Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
                                          "A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't
                                          read them."
                                          --Mark Twain
                                          Currently reading: The Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson
                                        • Diane Baker
                                          ... You may have a point; if you watch the films in the order of the six episodes, you see some of the difficulties of starting out a project, and without 2
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                            Ted Sherman wrote:
                                            >
                                            > From: Ted Sherman <beohilde@...>
                                            >
                                            > Star Wars (all the films) are very mythopoeic, if one takes them in their
                                            > entirety. The newest installment, though panned by many/most critics as not
                                            > being up to the calibre of the earlier films, fits right in with the earlier
                                            > films and begins to set the context for them. That, of course, is one of the
                                            > reasons for the film's being panned.

                                            You may have a point; if you watch the films in the order of the six
                                            episodes, you see some of the difficulties of starting out a project,
                                            and without 2 and 3, we don't have the whole tale.

                                            > Another is the thesis of the film: that there's a wicked trade federation that the > noble Jedi warriors must combat. [snip] . . . Lucas uses the trade dispute
                                            > issue to set up the reasons for the fall of the republic and the setting up of the > empire.

                                            I tumbled to this one, and had no problems with the story being about a
                                            trade dispute, once I gave it a moment's thought. I admit my first
                                            reaction was negative, but then I thought: "Well, of course; what
                                            better way to show a political system than to show how they deal with a
                                            trade dispute?"

                                            One of the major complaints I have about the Trek universe is that they
                                            often create stories without any reference to a viable and working
                                            economy (except when it's convenient, and you're working with the
                                            Ferrengi characters). JRRT does not make this mistake in LOTR; you get
                                            the idea that there's a real economic and political set-up in Middle
                                            Earth. You needn't do a lecture on economics, but in the background,
                                            one has to feel that some commodities are valuable, and that the
                                            majority of the inhabitants of your mythical worlds have jobs and
                                            perform services of some sort. One quibble I had: it would have been
                                            nice to see a scene in which we get a glimpse of the average inhabitant
                                            of Naboo, and have some sense of how the blockade affects them. (BTW,
                                            Naboo was not a name I would have chosen! Are the inhabitants
                                            "Nabooki," "Naboos," "Naboosians," or something else entirely?)

                                            > In my fantasy lit courses, I regularly refer to Star Wars because I know the
                                            > students will understand the connection between, say, Gandalf and Obi Wan, or
                                            > Shea Ohmsford and Luke.

                                            I'm afraid I don't remember who Shea Ohmsford is. I take it he's a
                                            young quester, but in which book does he appear? Wait a minute. Isn't
                                            that the hero of *Sword of Shanara?* I seem to remember that name
                                            before I threw the book across the room. When I cane across the name
                                            of Alanon the wizard, I said "That's it." THUNK! Do you use *this* in
                                            your fantasy lit course? Say it ain't so! (Or is my memory playing
                                            tricks again? A situation very likely.) ---djb.
                                          • Diane Baker
                                            ... Now, the question is, what s serious art? That s a can of worms we would have a hard time getting out of if we open it. The fact that we *need* another
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                              FrMacKen@... wrote:
                                              > I doubt if Star Wars can be called serious art. Star Wars is our futile attempt at > forging our own myth. Ah, that is another problem in our society. However that is > not for this time or place to discuss.

                                              Now, the question is, "what's serious art?" That's a can of worms we
                                              would have a hard time getting out of if we open it. The fact that we
                                              *need* another mythology (however thin) is a sad statement. For me the
                                              traditional Christian one works just fine, and the SW myth takes a lot
                                              from it (along with other religious and spiritual elements.) Yet
                                              another can of worms!

                                              > P.S. Diane: Ron ydw i.
                                              > Rdwy'n dsygu Cymraeg tipyn bach.
                                              > (I think that is how it's spelled)
                                              >
                                              The Welsh looks right to me, and I can say the same thing, with the
                                              accent on "tipyn bach." ---djb.
                                            • Ted Sherman
                                              ... The question why we need another mythology is very powerful. Why have the old myths failed (if they have) and how can new myths replace them??? The
                                              Message 22 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                Diane Baker wrote:

                                                > From: Diane Baker <dianejoy@...>
                                                > Now, the question is, "what's serious art?" That's a can of worms we
                                                > would have a hard time getting out of if we open it. The fact that we
                                                > *need* another mythology (however thin) is a sad statement. For me the
                                                > traditional Christian one works just fine, and the SW myth takes a lot
                                                > from it (along with other religious and spiritual elements.) Yet
                                                > another can of worms!
                                                >

                                                The question why we need another mythology is very powerful. Why have the old myths failed (if they have) and how can new myths replace them??? The popularity of the SW films, of Tolkien's (and the other
                                                Inklings') works, and of fantasy lit in general all attest to the power of myth (and mythopoeic artistic endeavors) to move people, to offer hope to the hopeless, to brighten and enliven dark and deadened lives.
                                                But how does these works accomplish these things? Moreover, Diane mentioned the need of myth in our lives--why do we need it? What function or purpose does myth (and the mythopoeic arts) serve, especially at the
                                                end of this millenium and the beginning of the next? Hmmmmm.

                                                I have been asked to guest edit an issue of Mythlore for this fall, so I am requesting article submissions on the works of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams, but also on other mythopoeic writers and artists: G.
                                                MacDonald, Susan Cooper, Philip Pullman, Terry Brooks, RE Klein, Stephen Donaldson, George Lucas (just to stir things up a bit), etc. I'd like to focus this issue around the theme(s) I've raised above. What is the
                                                value of these authors' and artists' works for our everyday lives, for our inner selves, our perspectives on and understandings of the world around us? In short, what is the value of their mythopoeic art in our
                                                society (or societies for those living outside the US) today? What does the popularity of these authors' works say about our need for myth?

                                                Please send hardcopy submissions to:

                                                Professor Theodore Sherman
                                                Box X041
                                                Middle Tennessee State University
                                                Murfreesboro, TN 37132

                                                Or you may email your submission (in either plain ASCII/text format or as Word 97 or WordPerfect or Microsoft Works for Windows formats) to me at the following two addresses:

                                                tsherman@...
                                                beohilde@...

                                                Please note that my home email address will change tomorrow (Friday afternoon), when I switch to a cable internet connection and change ISPs.

                                                Yours,

                                                Ted
                                              • Ted Sherman
                                                ... Yes, Shea Ohmsford is the protagonist in The Sword of Shannara, which I do teach in my fantasy lit courses. I use it because of the wonderful twist at the
                                                Message 23 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                  Diane Baker wrote:

                                                  > FI'm afraid I don't remember who Shea Ohmsford is. I take it he's a
                                                  > young quester, but in which book does he appear? Wait a minute. Isn't
                                                  > that the hero of *Sword of Shanara?* I seem to remember that name
                                                  > before I threw the book across the room. When I cane across the name
                                                  > of Alanon the wizard, I said "That's it." THUNK! Do you use *this* in
                                                  > your fantasy lit course? Say it ain't so! (Or is my memory playing
                                                  > tricks again? A situation very likely.) ---djb.

                                                  Yes, Shea Ohmsford is the protagonist in The Sword of Shannara, which I do teach in my fantasy lit courses. I use it because of the wonderful twist at the end of the
                                                  story (involving the true power of the sword), and also because it's a wonderful book to use in discussing intertextuality. Brooks' world is our world after a nuclear
                                                  catastrophe, and there's all sorts of political intrigue that one can easily see is borne out of the period in which Brooks was writing the novel (early-mid 70s).The
                                                  intertextuality part involves comparing the figures in TSOS with those in TLOR. There's almost, but not quite, a one-to-one correspondence between the nine walkers in
                                                  TLOR and the band that eventually go in search of the Sword in TSOS. I've not read any of Brooks' other works though.

                                                  One final note: another great (or at least very good and believeable) mythopoeic writer is Stephen Lawhead, whose Song of Albion trilogy is, I think, a great story
                                                  and a wonderful conglomeration of Celtic materials. His Athurian sequence ain't bad either, though I almost prefer Jack Whyte's no-nonsense (meaning no magic and
                                                  mysticism) Chronicles of Camulod series.

                                                  Ted
                                                • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
                                                  Diane, I understand your feelings about Star Trek, although the Next Generation was an excellent series. And yes, they did discuss monetary matters aside from
                                                  Message 24 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                    Diane,
                                                    I understand your feelings about Star Trek, although the Next
                                                    Generation was an excellent series. And yes, they did discuss monetary
                                                    matters aside from the Ferengi society. I happen to think that Star Trek: The
                                                    Next Generation was one of the best television shows in it's day. (Can it be
                                                    five years since that show went off the air?)
                                                    I do not believe that even my beloved Star Trek came remotely close
                                                    to Tolkien's world. My feeling that Star Trek was akin to a morality play set
                                                    in the future. The best episodes were character driven and often exposed
                                                    certain faults (i.e. the episode after Picard was returned to the Enterprise
                                                    after being held by the Borg. That episode exposed Picard's fear at his
                                                    inability to control his situation..one of my favourite episodes).
                                                    It was not as grand as the Star Wars myth, but remember: without Star
                                                    Trek, there would be no Star Wars.
                                                    Yours truly,
                                                    Ron
                                                  • FrMacKen@xxx.xxx
                                                    Diane, I fear that I didn t state myself clearly. This society is much too preoccupied with financial concerns to care about the fanciful. It is deemed a waste
                                                    Message 25 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                      Diane,
                                                      I fear that I didn't state myself clearly. This society is much too
                                                      preoccupied with financial concerns to care about the fanciful. It is deemed
                                                      a waste of time. All but select few (such as us) explore our imagination and
                                                      let it take us whither it will. We as a country only have time for myth if it
                                                      is on television or the movies. I really believe that the act of storytelling
                                                      (from whence myths began) is a lost art. I think that is one of our ills
                                                      today. We don't take time to read or read to our children. Instead we set our
                                                      children in front of a television set or a video game and leave them alone.
                                                      Does that stimulate their minds? I think not. And as good as Star Wars is, it
                                                      is not as good as reading a book; letting the author take our imaginations on
                                                      a wonderful trip, forcing our minds to create images out of mere words.
                                                      Ah, but there is another can of worms.
                                                      Ron
                                                    • Diane Baker
                                                      ... OK, I can accept that. I ve never quite had the stomach to return to Brooks. I just had this vision of Alanon the wizard getting up before a small group
                                                      Message 26 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                        Ted Sherman wrote:
                                                        >
                                                        > From: Ted Sherman <beohilde@...>
                                                        >
                                                        > Diane Baker wrote:
                                                        >
                                                        > > I'm afraid I don't remember who Shea Ohmsford is. I take it he's a
                                                        > > young quester, but in which book does he appear? Wait a minute. Isn't
                                                        > > that the hero of *Sword of Shanara?* I seem to remember that name
                                                        > > before I threw the book across the room. When I cane across the name
                                                        > > of Alanon the wizard, I said "That's it." THUNK! Do you use *this* in
                                                        > > your fantasy lit course? Say it ain't so! (Or is my memory playing
                                                        > > tricks again? A situation very likely.) ---djb.
                                                        >
                                                        > Yes, Shea Ohmsford is the protagonist in The Sword of Shannara, which I do teach in my fantasy lit courses. I use it because of the wonderful twist at the end of the
                                                        > story (involving the true power of the sword), and also because it's a wonderful book to use in discussing intertextuality. Brooks' world is our world after a nuclear catastrophe, and there's all sorts of political intrigue that one can easily see is borne out of the period in which Brooks was writing the novel (early-mid 70s).The intertextuality part involves comparing the figures in TSOS with those in TLOR. There's almost, but not quite, a one-to-one correspondence between the nine walkers in TLOR and the band that eventually go in search of the Sword in TSOS. I've not read any of Brooks' other works though.

                                                        OK, I can accept that. I've never quite had the stomach to return to
                                                        Brooks. I just had this vision of Alanon the wizard getting up before a
                                                        small group and saying, "Hello. My name is Alanon and I'm a wizard
                                                        alcoholic." Figured a writer that careless with names can't be too
                                                        great, and every time I came across that name, I'd snicker instead of
                                                        getting into the meat of the story. And with fantasy, that wizard
                                                        usually sticks around until at least a third of the way through the
                                                        book. I've had other people tell me that they like the function of the
                                                        sword, and that Brooks does have some interesting points. Maybe I'll
                                                        have to give him a second chance.

                                                        > One final note: another great (or at least very good and believeable) mythopoeic > writer is Stephen Lawhead, whose Song of Albion trilogy is, I think, a great story
                                                        > and a wonderful conglomeration of Celtic materials. His Athurian sequence ain't > bad either, though I almost prefer Jack Whyte's no-nonsense (meaning no magic and
                                                        > mysticism) Chronicles of Camulod series.

                                                        Ohhh, yeah! I like Lawhead fine. He does very careful work, and knows
                                                        his Celtic mythology. Have you seen his *Byzantium?* And yes, I have
                                                        *all* of Jack Whyte's *Chronicles of Camulod* series. Excellent. I've
                                                        enjoyed it greatly. ---djb
                                                      • Diane Baker
                                                        ... I agree; I love Trek; please don t get me wrong. ... Absolutely right. It s more like a morality play than epic or myth. The best episodes were character
                                                        Message 27 of 29 , Jun 24, 1999
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                                                          FrMacKen@... wrote:
                                                          >
                                                          > From: FrMacKen@...
                                                          >

                                                          > I happen to think that Star Trek: The
                                                          > Next Generation was one of the best television shows in it's day. (Can it be five years since that show went off the air?)

                                                          I agree; I love Trek; please don't get me wrong.
                                                          >I do not believe that even my beloved Star Trek came remotely close
                                                          > to Tolkien's world. My feeling that Star Trek was akin to a morality play set in the future.

                                                          Absolutely right. It's more like a morality play than epic or myth.

                                                          The best episodes were character driven and often exposed certain faults
                                                          (i.e. the episode after Picard was returned to the Enterprise after
                                                          being held by the Borg. That episode exposed Picard's fear at his
                                                          inability to control his situation..one of my favourite episodes).

                                                          Another agreement; no quarrel here. That was a very good ep. Another
                                                          fave was the one where he was held prisoner by the Cardies. I also
                                                          liked a good number of Deep Space Nine eps.

                                                          > It was not as grand as the Star Wars myth, but remember: > without Star Trek, there would be no Star Wars.

                                                          And without Trek, there'd probably be no 2001 or other great SF films.
                                                          My only point is that there were some economic holes in some of the
                                                          tales. ---djb.
                                                        • Paul F. Labaki
                                                          The Inklings (I think correctly) would likely have taken the position that we have our own mythology; for Christians, the names and stories can be found in a
                                                          Message 28 of 29 , Jun 27, 1999
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                                                            The Inklings (I think correctly) would likely have taken the position that
                                                            we have our own mythology; for Christians, the names and stories can be
                                                            found in a book we call "The Bible." The fact that there are people who
                                                            believe the mythology to be true and act accordingly does not invalidate its
                                                            mythic nature.
                                                            --
                                                            Paul Labaki

                                                            ----------

                                                            >
                                                            >> Star Wars is our futile attempt at forging our own myth.
                                                            >
                                                            > Thank God we are still making the attempt! Woe be unto us the day we
                                                            > stop!
                                                            >
                                                            >
                                                            > Respectfully,
                                                            > Jim Bohannon
                                                            > Milledgeville, Georgia
                                                            > USA
                                                            >
                                                            > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
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                                                            > the books you love to read. Get 5 books for only $2 + 1 free with
                                                            > membership. Go to http://www.onelist.com/ad/doubleday7
                                                            >
                                                            > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                                          • Diane Baker
                                                            ... I would certainly agree. Mythology does seem a bit tinged with the notion a story, which for the most part, should be disbelieved, but has to be
                                                            Message 29 of 29 , Jun 28, 1999
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                                                              Paul F. Labaki wrote:
                                                              >
                                                              > From: "Paul F. Labaki" <sheik@...>
                                                              >
                                                              > The Inklings (I think correctly) would likely have taken the position that
                                                              > we have our own mythology; for Christians, the names and stories can be
                                                              > found in a book we call "The Bible." The fact that there are people who
                                                              > believe the mythology to be true and act accordingly does not invalidate its
                                                              > mythic nature.
                                                              > --
                                                              > Paul Labaki

                                                              I would certainly agree. "Mythology" does seem a bit tinged with the
                                                              notion "a story, which for the most part, should be disbelieved, but has
                                                              to be respected for PC's sake." I prefer the term "mythos." JRRT and
                                                              CSL do subscribe to this "mythos," of course! ---djb.
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