Soiling the building blocks and well-known tropes of our treasured modern myths is no different than other artists taking a crucifix and dipping it in urine, covering it in ants, or smearing it with feces. In the end, it’s just another small, pathetic chapter in the decades-long slide of Western civilization into suicidal self-loathing. It’s a well-worn road: bored middle-class creatives (almost all of them college-educated liberals) living lives devoid of any greater purpose inevitably reach out for anything deemed sacred by the conservatives populating any artistic field. They co-opt the language, the plots, the characters, the cliches, the marketing, and proceed to deconstruct it all like a mad doctor performing an autopsy. Then, using cynicism, profanity, scatology, dark humor, and nihilism, they put it back together into a Frankenstein’s monster designed to shock, outrage, offend, and dishearten.
Wailing her woe, the widow old,
her hair upbound, for Beowulf’s death
sung in her sorrow, and said full oft
she dreaded the doleful days to come,
deaths enow, and doom of battle,
and shame. -- The smoke by the sky was devoured.
Grin seems to be an honest-to-God ‘Flat-Brainer’: someone who literally thinks that his yardstick is not bent, that he has not only won the Magical Belief Lottery, he has obviously done so.
Which is to say that Grin is passing judgment on fantasy from a fantasy world – or worlds, as the case might be. The first is the fantasy world where, despite being one more me-me-me schmuck like everyone else, he is obviously right unlike everyone else. The second is the fantasy world where the entire parade of human conceit, everything from our sense of moral certainty to the spiritual inferiority of the Other, possesses objective weight.
Which is why he uses the language and the attitude that I’m continually try to work into my fantasy world! Why I think the above quote is so awesome.
The ‘nihilism’ that Grin blames on decadent individuals (who also happen to be his political competitors) is as impersonal as can be, the result the forces unleashed by the Enlightenment twins of science and capital. Someone like him is bound to see ‘liberal contamination’ everywhere he turns, simply because, like our less tolerant ancestors, he needs to personify those things he does not like. But you don’t need liberal conspiracies or social dystopia to explain the evolution of contemporary fantasy. The transformation of ‘earnest art’ into forms than are progressively more baroque and revisionary is something you find in pretty much all genres of artistic expression. Familiarity breeds boredom, if not contempt. Humans stranded with old equipment come up with new games to play.
"Well, true. There's two sides to every coin, but there's my very point. People like simple stories." Craw frowned at the pink marks down the edges of his nails. "But poeple ain't simple."
On one side are the towering mythic geniuses of Tolkien and Howard, who wrote “in blood and lighting” according to Leo, although presumably on extremely hardwearing paper.
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