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 #147: letters

Good morning,

Amexit happened. If you’re already in the habit of using that to mean ‘to pay for something by Amex’, I suggest you un-learn it, whisper under your breath ‘screw you American Express’, and redefine the word to mean ‘American exit’.

‘Exit from what?’, you might ask – and I don’t really know but it somehow feels like a big exit. Maybe, from its former self, or from many of the role(s) it plays in the world politics, economy etc. or whatever. But! Not to worry – it’s going to be great again! Within a wall! Winning! Yeah! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

I mustn’t get carried away. After all, I’m not even American. Certainly not legally. That’s not to say I’m American illegally either. I meant, not in a civic sense. But perhaps I am quite American in the way I consume and view the world. Aren’t we all? As much as we’d like to deny that little accusation, I suggest we stop fooling ourselves and admit that what happens in the US has had and will have a huge influence on our ways of seeing and being, especially if you speak English and even more so if you live in the Anglosphere.

With that rant behind us – a few days ago I received an email message from someone whose keyboard must have had its Caps Lock key stuck in the ‘on’ position, judging from the fact that the entire message was composed in uppercase. I let them have a pretty useful tip; in most versions of Microsoft Office packages, highlighting any text and pressing the ‘F3’ key while holding down a ‘Shift’ key, would allow users to switch between uppercase, lowercase and capitalisation.

But it turned out that their Caps Lock key was perfectly functioning, and the capital letters used in the email were for emphasis. Then I thought, as anyone in that situation would, ‘why are these letters called upper or lower cases’. Looking at my own keyboard, I was quite sure there’s neither up nor down.

Googling ‘uppercase and lowercase’ quickly revealed that they are old typesetters’ terms. Originally, uppercase letters were called ‘majuscules’ while lowercase letters were called ‘minuscules’ Aside from the fact that they both sound ridiculous, because of the standard typesetting setup of having two wooden boxes/cases of letters, one being upper and the other being lower they were replaced by ‘uppercase and lowercase’ – Majuscules were located in the upper case because they were less frequently used than minuscules which were placed closer to typesetters.

In any ‘case’,


have a good friday

Have A Good Friday

By Maggie McCain – Flickr: PB103474, CC BY 2.0