(6/20/00 1:35:13 pm)
|Occult vs. mythic tales|
I immerse myself in myth, legend and fable. And as I'm sure we would agree, much of these tales are dark and moody -- full of black and white issues. So why is there is some unseen line between "occult" stories and other mythic stories? I'm afraid I just don't get it. Perhaps if someone would help me out I could better understand the differences, but to me they are one and the same. There are witches in fairy tales just as there are ghosts, angels, demons and spirits. Can anyone help me out with this? I'm finding it very frustrating. And while I'm making noise -- how about the differences between fantasy and "magical realism?" I'm afraid I just don't buy into categories and separations. The world is disjointed enough as it is. Comments?
(6/20/00 1:49:10 pm)
|Disjunction junction- what's the function?|
I totally agree with you- I sometimes see the use of a variety of terms a ploys to attract people to a genre that might not normally be drawn to it. Like placing a "lowfat" sticker on nature's own products- it's advertising. I think it may be level the story is on- is it a lighthearted story or deep soul diving? Is it about the witch or the poor child she's kept locked up? Is there an abuse of power or an understanding? Is there a sense of guilt from life or the letting go of one who's passed? It's all about labels and words- perception is the key and beauty is in the eye of the demon as well as the angel...
(6/24/00 8:44:02 am)
I think the reason there are so many designations has more to do with the "conventions" of one form over another. And yes, I think these are mostly academic terms, or theoretical terms devised to express an idea with out having to explain it! The conventions of fairy tale create certain expectations in the audience, or reader--so magic, the fantastic, the nameless prince, the lack of psychological development of characters, the emphasis on action rather than thought, the cultural history of the tale are all part of its conventions. But when the fantastic puts in an abrupt and startling appearance in narrative forms that are not part of the fairy tale convention, but a contemporary novel that has different conventions, it becomes "magic realism". The function of the fantastic here is altered because the conventions of the form are different. If one is looking critically at the work, the arrival of the fantastic must be addressed in its relationship (and its contrasts) to those novel conventions.
It's funny but it reminds me of the great heyday of radical politics of the late 60's, early 70s...everybody was something, a trotskyist, a maoist, IS, weatherman, anarchosyndicalist...but ask anybody what such designations really meant and it was shocking how few could articulate their own brand of leftism. Most of these literary designations really do have a useful meaning and some good scholarship behind them...but as I mentioned earlier, most students learn the handle (oh that's gothic, oh that's blah blah...) but not the scholarship that went into the creation of the term. And of course, the scholarship to be any good, keeps getting updated! Fifty years ago one would have been very hard pressed to find a term like "magic realism". So who knows what's next? (hint: "interstitial arts")
(7/14/00 4:14:25 am)
I think Midori has a good point but there may be more to it than that. Many fairy stories are to do with creating a sense of Wonder to allow Fantastic events to happen. But this is as much a device as rooted in the occult.
However once you move to Folk Tales (Irish ones are my main interest) there you will encounter fairies and the dead which seem to echo real experiences or beliefs of the people who originally wrote them. Grimm still has some of this as well, but mixed in with what I would call Wonder tales.
Yeats and may since him, believed that the fairies and folk tales of Ireland represented a lost or seldom encountered real experience, or in some cases echoes of lost Gods.
Just a point that in Irish tales, the dead often appear in context with the fairy - as though they inhabited the same space.
(7/14/00 4:26:03 am)
Yes of course you are right. I don't really make a big distinction between "occult" and fairy tales and folk tales. They all share the aesthetic conventions of the oral tradition: the use of the fantastic being most important. I think though that within the larger catagory, we tend to group stories based on their thematic emphasis (more as a short hand to talking about them). We refer to "hero" narratives, trickster narratives (while asserting that both catagories can be found in the same tale!) ghost stories, urban legends and a dark assortment of tales which we like to throw into the occult heading. In the end such labels suggest more than they reveal about the stories.