Standards: Straight Jacket or Guide Posts?

I just read a blog post by an author claiming that Joseph Campbell’s monomyth is overused, and explained how their novel avoided it so as not to sound formulaic.

Except the only difference was, their “hero” wasn’t traditionally heroic. Otherwise, the description was nothing more than an abbreviated version of the same story humans have been telling themselves for millennia.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/310469 by Andy Barton http://www.sxc.hu/profile/RavenMediaBeing “different” by

  1. calling yourself different
  2. pretending that how the human mind works doesn’t apply to you and/or
  3. being ignorant of how language works (Campbell’s “hero” has nothing to do with heroism)

is loopy, wonky, misguided, and just plain wrong.

Nothing is completely new. This is not bad, but it is true. Working within guidelines does not constrain creativity. The acceptance of the 12-tone musical scale in the late 1500s gave rise to the greatest explosion of musical creativity in human history.

When a new band bills themselves as “like nothing you’ve ever heard before” I expect either irritating noise, or something so derivative they’d have been more accurate to say “Justin Timberlake, but there’s 4 of us.”

When a new author claims to eschew the monomyth in their novel, I expect the same.

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