Friday, April 3, 2009

Santos L. Halper

I dunno about the whole thing that fantasy authors and the like seem to enjoy harping on about how "we've abandoned the elves" and so on and so forth, as if these concepts remain unchanging.

Now, let's take the idea of the elf. A major pop culture image of the elf is the image of Orlando Bloom prancing around and looking very worried about the prostheses glued to his ears, or Cate Blanchett in a tight closeup at the end of Return of the King when most everyone in the theater had to take a leak after three hours and endless cut-backs to golden light cutting across water. Then, maybe the idea of Will Ferrel in a ridiculous green getup.

Now, if we were to start backpedaling for a while, the roots of "elf" come from the concepts of the "alfar," spirits encountered by shamans in the tribes of northern Europe during their trances. Somewhere a polarization of the "alfar" concept occured, between the elves and the black elves, cognate with the folkloric dwarf. Mythologically, dwarves tended to be present in the creation of sacred objects of the gods, most often requiring some sort of sacrifice either as payment or for a component in the creation of the piece.

Going back to that "loss of the elves," a common thread tends to be that children, madmen and mystics can see elves, and most people have either grown out of it, or aren't fucking bonkers. With fingers in the pies of both mysticism and mental illness, I noticed that in states of receptivity as an adult and during play as a child, the mind tends to free-associate with facial recognition, perceiving not only human-like faces in random objects, but attributing traits to these faces. This phenomenon might indicate an "elf" experience, as our cultural schematic tends to brush these off as "oh, I'm just imagining things" rather than wondering "why am I seeing these faces right now?"

Some of this phenomenon seems to run along with the "voices in the head" scenarios, as impersonal voices inform activity of a person whose mental stability has been compromised. I have the opinion that the Dualistic qualification of these phenomena (Angels or Demons) has brought more harm than good in this scenario. The subject perceives actions informed by these voices as either the word of God or the word of the Devil, leading to mental images of perceived catastrophe or rapture upon the execution of these tasks. By permitting a mental schematic with these voices taken as simply numinous and reserving qualification on a case-by-case basis, the scenario permits dialogue into the subjective phenomena without compromising the rational decision-making process.

I feel like this phenomenon has been utilized to great effect in marketing and cultural demands. The "liberal-run media," the "evil secret society in charge of the entire world," the "perfect mate," and other memes capitalize on our anthropomorphization and collective-defining instincts, presenting associations and facts that create these constructs that seem to act independently of the intent of the people involved. As Don Draper said, "There is no system. The universe is indifferent." That said, the subjective concerns created by these phenomena have been given faces, and these faces interact with the psyche on levels of which we remain unaware on a day-to-day basis.

Although imaginary and intangible, these "entities" still affect our processes of thought and emotion, and thus these entities have a "reality" to their activity, despite slipping through rational consideration, to the point that a person will rationalize actions based around these conceptualizations. I ask this: when a battle of ideologies breaks out, would it be more effective to go after the "ground troops" following the orders of the ideology, or to go after the ideology itself, using its own tools?

If humanity had greater education on the effects of subjective processes to complement the objective processes, the species as a whole could find greater forms of understanding and communication to overcome aesthetic and cultural hurdles. Often times, one mindset seems to preach in its own subjective language, bestowing a concept of "non-belief=lesser" that can create resentment between parties. If we were to understand the irrational functions of not only ourselves but those whom we sought to inform, we could assuage the presumptions between parties and create a dialogue on more than just the linguistic/dialect level.

Then again, I could just be bonkers.

1 comment:

13 Muluc said...

You don't sound bonkers to me. You sound like someone who refuses to jump to conclusions based on insufficient data, which allows you to actually learn and have original thoughts. How refreshing.