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I was pointlessly arguing with my friends about the 'Avengers' movies; they have a great emotional investment in the universe and the characters, while the whole business leaves me cold. I was trying to articulate what, exactly, bothered me about the entire superhero genre, and was struggling. One of them brought up the Hero's Journey; the need for hope. Something kind of-sort of partially clicked: Campbell's damn monomyth, again.
I don't have background in folklore, so this is inexpert philosophical flailing...but doesn't it seem the Hero's Journey has stunted and contaminated our narratives somewhat? We have narrative frameworks for going forth, striving, battling, failing but ultimately succeeding and returning home with boons and restoration of the status quo.
I was moved by it when I was younger, but now I find it personally boring, and culturally...infantile? Stultifying?
It's true that there is renewal, sometimes, but we don't seem to have healthy narratives for dealing with the degeneration, death, and continuing loss of self and presence that preceed it. 'Hope' is largely meaningless; the world we made must, inevitably, crumble and slip away. That kind of grief cannot be elided, at least not for long. Why is this not a fundamental part of our stories?
Maybe there is a folklore that deals with this more honestly, more openly. I don't know. I'm rambling, trying to clarify this in my own head, but I don't have the vocabulary. Do any of you pub-goers have any reading that might enlighten me as to what exactly the fuck I'm talking about?
I think you're looking for J. R. R. Tolkien's concept of "the long defeat", the notion that even though the battle—and indeed the war—seems hopeless, one should fight to the bitter end anyway, to hold out as long as possible.
Part of the lack of healthy narratives is because of the individualist and industrial attitudes in the West. Anything or anyone can be a component to be used and replaced.
It's permeated even our entertainment where superheroes celebrate the isolationist who goes it alone and comes out on top.
This can probably even be traced back to Descartes' "I think therefore I am" statement. Whereas in Africana philosophy you have the opposite,"I am who I am because of who we all are".
We need to put the humanity back into these ideas of ourselves first in my opinion. Then we can create fitting folklore.
Okay, figured out the formatting. I've got to stop using Wordgrinder. It formats text REALLY strangely.
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