LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #23

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 8 22:53:50 PST 2007

On Nov 9, 1:21 pm, Tom Russell <milos_par... at yahoo.com> wrote:
> And the argument that each genre exists as an extension of a specific
> emotional context falls pretty flat on its face when you realize that
> most genres can evoke a multivariate response.  Romantic comedies can
> be melancholy (see the work of Truffaut).  Comedy itself is often a
> function of anger, much more so than an action film.  Horror stories
> can evoke terror and fear, but they can just as easily evoke wonder
> and pity (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein).

It's a good way to identify "pure" genres rather than mixed genres
like romantic comedies.

> Most genres are _not_ a function of emotion, but rather of trope.
> What makes science fiction science fiction is the element of science,
> whether it's hyper-futuristic or taking place in the present day; what
> makes fantasy fantasy is the fantastical setting.  Porno is not
> determined by what feelings (both emotional and pysiological) it
> inspires in you, but rather by the presence of sex; musicals are
> determined by the presence of singing and dancing, _not_ by the desire
> to feel-good.

It's a simplistic argument that happens to work very well.  All movies
have music but not all movies are musicals.  And pornography really is
a function of what one individually finds pornographic or arousing or
disgusting as the case may be.  If a couple were having sex and, at
the same time, having a meaningful conversation then it could arguably
be described as a drama with the sex providing little more than
setting.  You yourself told Saxon not long ago that porn can never be
sad or it wouldn't be porn.  What makes something pornographic is not
the images themselves but the feelings they envoke.  (In addition to
passion and lust, I should add disgust.  The feelings of passion, lust
and disgust identify different genres of porn with some people
apparently only capable of responding to images that would simply
disgust most people.)

> And some genres, frankly, do not evoke any overriding emotion at all.
> What emotion is postmodern work like Ulysses in key with?  What about
> bildungsroman?  Epistolary? Stream-of-consciousness?  Robinsonade?
> Psychological Realism?

How do they make you feel?  It really is a valid way to distinguish
one pure genre from another.

> What is the Western a function of?  Anger, justice, elegy, discovery?
> None of these.
> A Western is a function of _setting_.

A Western is a type of action movie.  Science fiction, likewise, is a
recent invention of the past hundred years that grew out of the need
for more realistic fantasy.  I realise that "realistic fantasy" sounds
like an oxymoron but all stories do need to be capable of suspending

> So, while I understand the basic gist of the idea, in actuality it's
> bullocks and it's somewhat frightening that an English teacher who
> presumably takes literature seriously would also take that theory
> seriously.  It's about as bad as those people in the seventies who
> said there were no such things as authors or even works, but rather
> products of prevaling socio-economic conditions.

Well, Tom, I've had enough years of experience to identity bull and I
frankly don't see it coming from me.


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