June 29, 2009


Since it's FOD, I think this is time for a timely post by Ron.

A paradigm some teachers use for wrestling literature into submission is a checklist for heroes. Students may not see many of the different strata of a great story. They might miss the symbolism or the message or how the story applies to their own lives or the lives of others. Now I'm not necessarily endorsing the checklist (often called the Monomyth as laid out by Joseph Campbell), and I'm certainly not saying it's the only way to get the most out of the layers of stories that twang something deep inside us but we can't quite articulate why they do so. Generally, though, stories of heroes which last from generation to generation tend to deal with many of the issues in this list:

Oracle of conflict
Significant birth (often miraculous)
Hiding of the child/exposure
Rescue and rustic rearing
Preparation and Meditation, withdrawal
Call to adventure
Departure on Quest
Road of Trials/Tests/Tribulations
Ritualized (often) death or scapegoating
Descent into the underworld
Atonement with father/god (apotheosis)

Think about it in terms of significant figures from history, and it after a while you begin to say, "Yeah, yeah . . . I see that. Yeah, it's just like Jesus, or King Arthur, or Oedipus, or Luke Skywalker."

Start with Jesus.
Foretold birth? Yes
Obscure or miraculous birth? Yes
Hiding of the child from fearsome authority? Yes
Rescue and rustic rearing by someone not directly related to him? Yes
Learning of skills from an old man or woman in a green-world setting? Yes
Involvement of mystical or magical powers or artifacts? Yes
Inner conflict, self-doubt, confusion about place in tribe/society? Yes
Trip to wilderness to escape and meditate? Yes
Hearing a call to do something, go somewhere, save someone? Yes
Begin a quest for some noble or magnificent goal? Yes
Encounter great tests involving powerful enemies or monsters? Yes
Suffer death or sacrifice to placate opposing powers? Yes
Descend into an alternate state or universe? Yes
Be reborn or vindicated as proof of an eternal truth? Yes
Bring great boon of magic, strength, knowledge, or wisdom to society? Yes
Be acknowledged as a redeemer or source of hope and change to a better life? Yes

Of course not every hero touches base with every step of the mythic hero's paradigm. But the more steps he matches in the process, the closer he is compared to those powerful figures which have made great impacts on our lives and strike a resonant chord deep in our collective subconsciousness.

I certainly don't compare our Precedent President with Jesus, or Arthur, or Moses, or Skywalker, but understanding how others might do it isn't difficult. From Monomyth to Obamamyth:

Was his birth foretold? Well, according to him it was. "I am the one we've been waiting for."
Was his birth obscure? Oh, at the very least. Particularly the where part.
Hiding the child from powerful enemies? Hard to tell, but from Kenya to Indonesia to Hawaii? Why?
Rustic rearing by a surrogate parent? Yep! Repeatedly. Hard to get more rustic than Indonesia.
Mystic or magical skills learned in a wildnerness? Hard to know, but the wildnerness part is clear.
Magical artifacts? I certainly think so; he'd never have been elected without black skin, his only visible asset and America's perverse guilt over the slavery issue.
Confusion about his place in the society? Certainly not hard to see this.
Hearing a call to adventure? The dangers of Chicago politics would certainly serve as adventure.
Go on a quest? To escape Chicago politics would be enough of a quest for most; he chose King of the World.
Travel a path of great tests, trials, and tribulations? Depends on how you look at it, but it ain't easy bein' green and gettin' the starting quarterback job.
Sacrifice and descent into an underworld? Remains to be seen. One can hope.
Rebirth as symbol of hope and change? For Kenyans and welfare blacks, oh, YES!

To me he's nothing but a posturing fraud, a newbie who came along at the right time with connections to vast sums of both sympathy and money. He'd never have made the national scene without racial loyalty, white guilt, Soros' money, and Winfrey's fawning. Not a hero, but a freak of circumstance.

Still, very easy to see how white-guilt liberals, inveterate Bush-bashers, nanny-staters, and kumbayassholes could see him as a savior, a redeemer, a messiah. He owes a great debt to Tiger Woods, by the way, as well as several other successful, articulate, reasonable racial hybrids, not to mention classy blacks such as Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, who tirelessly chipped away at the lingering racism and class prejudice and societal memories to clear the stage for him.

Does he fit the monomyth schema? If you're into worshipping rock stars, bad boys, rebels, smiling opportunists, flash-in-the-pan wannabes, empty suits, liars, flip-floppers, and hypocrites, then the answer is "yes." But does he fit anywhere on the same page with Moses or Siegfried or Jesus or Arthur, or even a similarly artificial character such as Luke Skywalker? Yeah, like BocaBurgers, Olestra chips, and near beer belong with Big Macs, Pringles, and Dos Equis.

Posted by denny at June 29, 2009 11:50 AM  

What is one similarity between God and Obama?

God doesn't have a birth certificate either.

What is one difference between God and Obama?

God does not think he is Obama.

H/T Rush.

Posted by: kerrcarto on June 29, 2009 02:14 PM

Speaking of Dos Equis, I would have voted for 'the most interesting man in the world' twice over our current faux paus.

Posted by: evan on June 29, 2009 02:15 PM

Yeah, well, Saddam Hussein fits that profile as well.

Posted by: PeggyU on June 29, 2009 06:32 PM

Vote early. Vote often...for Jubal T. Early!

Evan: You can only vote twice for the APPROVED candidate!
Know you nothing of Democracy?

Posted by: John on July 5, 2009 09:31 AM
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