Post by neilnv2 on Aug 21, 2016 6:45:58 GMT -5
I'm posting this without comment as in one sense it goes way beyond a discussion of REH, in another sense it might fit his worldview (or that of his fans). I also got my wrists slapped as it's not "scholarly". Precisely.
To save hassle, here's a summary
Reading REH’s historical adventures of medieval/Ottoman times (Swordwoman and other Historical Adventures, Del Rey 1999), the strong sense I get is that he is describing destiny, fate, not cause-and-effect. Partly this is owing to the fact that in medieval times there were few preconceptions – there was just day-to-day action, flow and movement of people and things, what we see in paintings.
One pictures the romantic Byronic hero, his shadow going before him, touched by ancestral tragedy, hobbling grimly into the twilight. The picture one has of fate is of a shadowy landscape, and there is a very good reason for that: a shadow is the negative to a positive.
Artistic depictions of the flittering Batman often use a lot of black to delineate the forms. Black is pure form, pure geometry, and we get a sense of enclosure (like the shadow thrown by a palm tree in an oasis). I’m being naïve because that’s all there is to it; black is not “intelligent”, it just is.
Black is the absence of light, instinct, the feminine mystique. “She walks in beauty like the night” (Byron). Romance – and heroic romance – accord night a distinctive presence, as do fairy tales and the shadow-land illustrated by Gustav Dore, grey and sombre.
I did say “The ancient world is everything we are not”, and I mean something naïve. It is a world where contrast is more the reality, not just an interesting effect of light. Matter is as unstable as the passing of the day, but it is iconic and monumental. Where we have a material world they had a world of ideas held together by heraldic simplicity.
That world was consequential because not actually material, a world defined by changing shadows. What that means is that the world is defined by the contrast between night and day and the drama of iconic form.
Where you have the presence of iconic form, drama, heraldry, you have a much simpler view, because it is defined by simple forms and symbols. This world runs contrary to a logical one which – see link – is political and psychoanalytical. I see them as an invention of a logical world; inventions of complexity.
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
And all that's best of dark and light
Meet in her aspect and her eyes
The poem is romance, illogical opposing forces. In his "Annotated Guide", Robert Weinberg says, p120,
"Much of the Conan saga is predicated on this notion (wish-fulfillment) and "Shadows in Zamboula" is a prime example of it."
A lot of Weinberg's critique is very good - the emphasis on grimness and disdain for pastiche - but this phrase I ally with psychoanalytical. Conan is savage, direct, instinctive, a belief of REH not a wish. The world of poetic lust and iconic form is contrary to a logical world (of materialism and happiness).