Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ivor's Stuff (I stole it)

Three things which are stolen are my offerings in this week of tragi-comedic observation. First, a quote from Tolkien (Lord of the Schwing) on the juxtaposition of the tragic and the optimistic:

“The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending… the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially “escapist,” nor “fugitive.” … It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies… universal final defeat…”

Tolkien J R R, (1986) The Tolkien Reader

So, did you get that? 'Joyous turns' do not negate the existence of the tragic, in fact happy endings rely on tension and tragedy for impact.

Next up...It's Christopher Booker again and his doorstop tome The Seven Basic Plots: why we tell stories (2004):

"The one thing of which we can be certain in a Comedy is that the happy ending cannot be reached until everyone has emerged into the full light of day, all disguises are thrown off and the characters no longer seem to be anything other than what they are."

Now, bearing this in mind, which character in all our human history is the most elusive? Who is most prone to disguises and ambiguity? I'm going to save you the trouble of taxing your walnut and fill the gap. God (god, goddesses, minor deities and immortal mythological beings) is pretty darned elusive. In fact, that's sort of the point of his/her/its/their character. And so, for my third item purloined from another's brilliance I present the comedic genius of my daughter. When asked to write a letter to this elusive character at school, this was her response:

Dear God,

We have been requested to write you a letter saying what our world is like. Well, since YOU decided to kill off the unicorns it's gone to the dogs. For starters, why on earth would you 'create' David Cameron? He has done nothing but destroy everything our country has built. On the other hand, it makes funny news.

Secondly, why did you have to make me tiny? I mean really, 5' 2" is not a good height. But it does mean I fit smaller clothes.

Lastly, why did you have to dump Justin Bieber on us? What did we do to deserve her?

All in all, you're not helping us much, and we could probably do better on our own.



I could comment on her excellent use of the 'power of three', or her reflection of the ambiguous gender of God in the pronoun used to describe 'The Bieber'. I could observe that she ends her letter by asserting the fact that God possesses her and ponder the psychological implications of such. Instead I will point out that she manages to reveal the essentially tragic nature of existence (Tories) while simultaneously revealing a little about the flawed nature of an ambiguous character and summarising optimistically that humanity is, in fact, quite capable of determining its own fate...

And that's how you write a comedy :)

wyrd bið ful aræd?



Anonymous said...

but doesn't fate, by definition, remain inexorable?

Ashley R Lister said...

Is Raven going to be a guest blogger for us one week?

Writing material like that she deserves to have a spot.

And I agree with your thoughts on Christopher Booker's book. It's one I'm slowly trawling through, although every word is worth it. Thanks for the recommendation on that one.



vicky ellis said...

Anonymous - the Greek definition of fate entails inexorability, however the Germanic definition does not:

'The way things happen' can be fixed by fate but are not necessarily so.

Ash - Great idea. I'll ask her to contribute!

I'll see you in 2022 when I've finished Booker too ;)