Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What makes somebody a universal villain?

Following the post below, I have discovered that the comments in Colbert's book about the "classic Dark Lord" are also interesting. The proposal is that narratives are compelling because they reflect what is (in Christian terms) the great Narrative - the Gospel in the broadest sense of its overall picture of the nature of the universe.

Colbert picks up ideas in The Encyclopaedia of Fantasy, by John Clute and John Grant. These are the characteristics of a "Dark Lord":

@ A Dark Lord 'has often been already defeated but not destroyed aeons before'.
@ He 'aspires to be the Prince of this world.'
@ He is an 'abstract force', less flesh and blood than supernatural energy.
@ He represents 'thinning' [he has already caused damage]
@ He is ... a symbol of 'debasement', a moral collapse, often as a result of a questionable bargain, such as the one struck by the many Death Eaters who sought to gain power through their alliance with Voldemort.
@ He 'inflicts damage out of envy'

If it is easy to see how Jesus fits the "universal hero" image given below, it is also very easy to see how Satan fits the "Dark Lord" image here.

I suppose it is arguable the other way round - the gospel accounts are compelling because they fit these universal narrative themes. I still think that there must be a good thesis lurking here somewhere.