Fantasy illustration as an expression of postmodern 'primitivism' : the green man and the forest

Tolson, Emily Rosalind (2006-04)

Thesis (MA) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study demonstrates that Fantasy in general, and the Green Man in particular, is a postmodern manifestation of a long tradition of modernity critique. The first chapter focuses on outlining the history of 'primitivist' thought in the West, while Chapter Two discusses the implications of Fantasy as postmodern 'primitivism', with a brief discussion of examples. Chapter Three provides an in-depth look at the Green Man as an example of Fantasy as postmodern 'primitivism'. The fmal chapter further explores the invented tradition of the Green Man within the context of New Age spirituality and religion. The study aims to demonstrate that, like the Romantic counterculture that preceded it, Fantasy is a revolt against increased secularisation, industrialisation and nihilism. The discussion argues that in postmodernism the Wilderness (in the form of the forest) is embraced through the iconography of the Green Man. The Green Man is a pre-Christian symbol found carved in wood and stone, in temples and churches and on graves throughout Europe, but his origins and original meaning are unknown, and remain a controversial topic. The figure of the Green Man most commonly appears in Fantasy art as a humanoid male head disgorging leaves from its mouth; a composite of man and foliage. In contemporary Fantasy the Green Man has come to signify what Terri Windling terms "the Mythic Forest" and " ... mythic rebirth and regeneration ... ". The study concludes that the prevalence and pervasiveness of Green Man and forest imagery in Fantasy is indicative of a wider trend in modernised society - that of nostalgia for a mythic and imagined past, and of dissatisfaction with modernity. The discussion demonstrates that postmodern 'primitivism' continues certain Modernist characteristics and brings them to their logical/extreme conclusion. Thus postmodemism takes modem 'primitivism' to the extremes of escapism and consumerism. Hence, like most counter discourses of modernity, Fantasy remains caught in the very paradigm it sets out to critique.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie demonstreer dat Fantasie in die algemeen, en veral die Groen Man, 'n postmoderne manifestasie van 'n lang tradisie van kritiek op die modernisme is. Die eerste hoofstuk fokus op die uiteensetting van die geskiedenis van 'primitivistiese' denke in die Weste, terwyl hoofstuk twee die implikasies van Fantasie as postmodernistiese 'primitivisme' bespreek deur middel van 'n bondige bespreking van voorbeelde. Hoofstuk drie verskaf 'n in-diepte blik op die voorbeeld van die Groen Man as 'n voorbeeld van Fantasie as postmodernistiese 'primitivisme'. Die slothoofstuk ondersoek die versinde tradisie van die Groen Man verder binne die konteks van New Age spiritualiteit en godsdiens. Die studie beoog om te demonstreer dat Fantasie, soos die Romantiese kontrakultuur wat dit vooraf gegaan het, 'n opstand teen toenemende sekularisasie, industrialisasie en nihilisme is. Daar word geargumenteer dat, binne die postmodemisme, die Wildemis (in die vorm van die woud) aangegryp word deur die ikonografie van die Groen Man. Die Groen Man is 'n voorchristelike simbool wat gekerf is in hout en steen, in tempels en kerke en op grafte in Europa, maar sy oorsprong en oorspronklike betekenis is onbekend, en bly 'n omstrede onderwerp. Die figuur van die Groen Man verskyn in Fantasie-kuns as 'n mensagtige manskop, met blare wat uit sy mond peul: 'n saamgestelde beeld van mens en blare. In kontemporere Fantasie dien die Groen Man teenswoordig as betekenaar vir, soos Terri Windling daama verwys, "the Mythic Forest" en" ... mythic rebirth and regeneration ... ". Die studie kom tot die slotsom dat die algemeenheid en hoe voorkoms van die Groen Man en woudbeelde in Fantasie 'n aanduiding is van 'n wyer tendens in die gemodemiseerde samelewing - die van 'n verlange na 'n mitiese en versinde verlede sowel as 'n ontevredenheid met modemisme. Die bespreking demonstreer dat postmodernistiese 'primitivisme' sekere Modemistiese kenmerke voortsit en hulle tot 'n logiese uiteinde of 'n uiterste voer. Postmodemisme neem dus modeme 'primitivisme' na die uiterstes van ontsnapping en verbruikerswese. Dus soos so baie einste antler kontradiskoerse van die modemisme, bly Fantasie vasgevang binne die paradigma waarop dit kritiek lewer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50607
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