Friday, September 30, 2011


I've changed the name of my movie blog and my AUM theory for a couple of reasons.

One is that I've become aware that there's actually another "AUM Theory" out there, some psychological dingus called "Anxiety/Uncertainty Management."  I'm sure there would never be a literal conflict between them and me in the best/worst of worlds, but I just don't want the duplication, even if I never publish my theory anywhere else.

Two is that about a year after I formulated the basic parameters of my theory, I found myself displeased with the term "atypical" that I explained in TALES OF THE ATYPICAL, UNCANNY AND MARVELOUS. I specified that the concept of "the atypical" could well apply to the type of narrative disequilibrium that pertained within what might loosely be called a "realistic" or "naturalistic" discourse, for which my first-chosen example was the novel THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.  I felt the need for a particular term to denote what Tzvetan Todorov called "the real" in his book THE FANTASTIC, but one which would not privilege consensual accounts of "the real" as did Todorov's book.

Recently, however, I tried to see if the term "atypical" applied very well to elements of stories aside from the movement of disequlibrium that Frank Cioffi called "the anomaly."  "Uncanny" and "marvelous" (which I swiped from Todorov, though I know he took the first one from Freud and think it likely he picked up the latter from other fantasy-critics) worked fine.  But "atypical" didn't work across the board.  When I look back at one of my few reviews of an "atypical" film like HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS, I don't think "atypical" aptly describes what narrative forces make the film closer in spirit to realistic fiction than its "uncanny" near-cousin, TARZAN OF THE APES.

I'm not going back to change the text of old essays here or on THE ARCHETYPAL ARCHIVE, though I will change the labels for "the atypical" to "the naturalistic."

From now on, my specialized use of "naturalistic" will connote those things that are, as the earlier essay says, "not fantastic" in any way.  Moreover, since some of my cited definitions of fantasy stress how the natural order is broken or compromised within fictions of the uncanny or marvelous, it seems appropriate to have one category that remains "naturalistic" in all respects.

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