Current affairs, Uncategorized

PPFF #168: Star Wars


I watched Star Wars Episode 4 for the first time in a long time. Never mind the special effects, details and intricacies of the film, I kept thinking ‘wow, isn’t this just like Harry Potter films’.

Now please, put down the stones; those of you fervent worshippers of ‘the force’. Let me explain.

Any real Star Wars fan would know that the structure of the Star Wars Ep. 4 follows that of monomyth (or hero’s journey), a highly influential concept proposed by Joseph Campbell a mythologies/literary scholar in a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The theory has it that pretty much every mythical story under the sun follows the same structure, be it Jesus, Buddha or Moses. It goes something like this:

The hero in his ordinary world receives a call to embark on an adventure, accompanied by a mentor, who usually dies (Departure). He then crosses the boundary between the ordinary and the unknown world (Initiation), where he faces the central crisis of his adventure. Against all odds, he defeats the archenemy (Ordeal) and wins a reward. Then he returns to the ordinary world but nothing is quite the same (Return).

Having read about this, I was reminded of last year’s US presidential election and thought ‘That sounds awfully like Donald Trump’. Call me crazy but upon this thought, I happened to google “hero’s journey and trump”. You’d be surprised how many articles have already likened his election campaign and victory to the structure of monomyth.

Basically, Trump (the hero) is a businessman and an entertainer (ordinary world). The failing state of American politics compels him (the call) to declare his intention to run for presidential office. But in the realm of politics (the unknown world) he is ridiculed and mocked but against all predictions and odds he defeats Hilary (archenemy), wins the election (the reward) and nothing is quite the same again.

Well, Trump certainly isn’t my hero (besides his political views, I can’t get over his hair) but you could just about see the parallel in how his story unfolded.

Then I thought, ‘hang on a minute. Isn’t this how Obama’s and Macron’s election campaigns panned out? They both came out of nowhere; unexpected and inexperienced underdogs formerly outside the major political scene and against all odds they both overcame their obstacles and won a decisive victory.

So I came to this conclusion. Maybe, we’re hardwired to think this way; the hero’s narrative is what people buy into. Now, with regard to the UK general election next Thursday, the question is this; which of the two potential PMs’ campaigns resembles Campbell’s hero’s journey? May? Or Corbyn?

You decide. Literally.
Have a monomythic Friday


PPFF #132: Tiesday

Good morning,

Yes I know. It’s Friday. You didn’t just wake up on a Tuesday, four days after a crazy amnesia-inducing Thursday night-out, and no, it’s not a typo; granted, it may be a bad pun but I meant Tiesday, as in, a day when one would sport a tie as part of one’s work attire.

This Tuesday gone, four of us in our office participated in a Tiesday. I’m happy to report that it was gender-neutral and inclusive with a female colleague willingly participating in this event. If you’ve had the time to google tiesday, you would know that this somewhat trite happening is nothing new and has been done before; for good causes; for charity events etc.

We didn’t have any of those good causes, however; it was as random as some guy with a head full of loose screws deciding that one day he would wear a tie and convince 3 others to do the same in a feeble attempt to manufacture a sense of event in an otherwise mundane work environment. Whatever the motive, in trying to find out the origin of neckties, I found in the past few days, that the subject of necktie, this relatively small piece of garment, is so unexpectedly multi-faceted, complex and politically charged that I had a hard time keeping up; I’d even argue G-strings and bikinis are the only other two things in the western sartorial history that come anywhere near being as controversial as neckties (no, mankinis are not even comparable). I was only trying to find out who invented or popularised it and/or where it came from but in the process I came across the following wide range of ‘related’ topics; interpretation of a tie as an antiquated phallic symbol, wearing a tie and its positive effect on work productivity , Iran’s necktie ban claiming them as a symbol of western decadence,  gender politics crying foul for its sexist nature, implication of the (male) wearer’s aspirations and ambition (equivalent to female power-dressing) – and I can’t find the source now but someone might have even described them as a morbid thing or essentially a noose around one’s neck, ready for that hanging action if required, like a convenient ‘self-destruct’ button after a particularly stressful day at work.

Far from all this misplaced sociopolitical aggression and gender politics, the modern origin of the necktie was nothing like that and it wasn’t merely symbolic at all and it was highly functional (I have to say ‘modern’ because as with everything else, neck ties included of course, irritatingly go back to the Romans and/or the Chinese):

The legend has it during The Thirty Years’ War (17th Century. Very messy. Involved over a dozen countries in Europe) the French King Louis the 13th hired Croatian mercenaries to fight for France. These Croats used to wear a ‘scarf’ around their neck as part of their uniform, which tied either the collar of their shirt and/or the top of their jackets. Not only did these Croats win battles for France but also their fashion sense impressed King Louis to the extent that his majesty made this garment part of the dress code for French court appearances. Indeed the French name for neckties ‘cravates’, comes from German Krabate, which comes from Serbo-Croatian Hrvat, meaning ‘Croat’ or ‘Croatian’.

Going back to the insanity that surrounds neckties, I’d say, even at the risk of being misinterpreted and misconstrued, I’m still going to wear my tie next Tiesday, and the whiteness of the shirt I’ll be wearing will not represent the general mundanity of the work I do and the vivid colour(s) of the necktie I’ll be wearing will not symbolise my desperate attempt to contrive excitement and eventfulness.

Have a good Friesday

Yup, today’s a day you have fries.