As I said, it will become clearer as I develop this thread.
For much of this is concerned with symbolism, something inherently difficult to explain to people, assuming it can even be done, but I think there is enough present, even in my own limited collection, to support my relatively narrow-ranged premise:
Perhaps I should start with some of the easier and more obvious examples of the above. Start, in fact with more "well-known" symbols.
Most people in America are at least vaguely familiar with the story of the crucifixion, for instance. The symbol of The Cross, with or without victim shown hanging on it, triggers something in the recesses of memory for even the most secular Americans. What it does for people in other countries, I don't know. You, being one person from another country, might be able to give me a partial answer.
What then, is the average American to associate Superman with in his mind when he sees the following in a blockbuster movie ... ?
December 24th being what it is (Christmas Eve), this will probably have to be one of, if not the, last messages I post for the day, if not the week.
I'll simply make it a post,then, with an image from a relatively recent (given DC's overall history) comic and a few rhetorical questions.
The imagery is important, and I want people to notice the Crucifixion poses assumed 3 times by two different characters on this page, but what I really want focused on is the dialogue, above all the strange mention of "The Beast".
What is this referring to? Or whom?
Why did the writer choose THAT term?
Where does the phrase originally derive from?
Why, in the context of the story (Countdown #13), is the term significant?
Jake, assuming that "--- what?" was directed at me, read the following.
Cogito, the evidence I've presented that relates most to what I've written directly above is the Countdown #13 scan.
You'll need to answer the questions I presented in relation to that and "The Beast" before I concern myself with your other queries, for I've answered several of your questions already and you've ignored my answers to date.
As suggested before, what you've seen is only a fraction of what I intend to present, and it will take a good deal of time to present it all. As it is the holiday season, no more frequency should be expected than Tuesday submissions.
No, I'm pretty sure I don't understand why you posted Chomsky in the thread, but I have an idea. I'd prefer to let you develop and express the idea rather than jumping in and spoiling your nascent thesis with a premature analysis.
I'll try to expand on the second part where I failed to express my meaning in a way you could parse. A failure of concision I guess.
What I meant by my comments about concision was that concision requires a certain degree of commonality between the speaker and listener of experience, cultural referents, and mental shorthand connections or the message may be lost or go awry.
As an example of that, if someone created a message thread somewhere with a title of "Superman Meets the Hulk!" the audiences in most fan message bases would be expecting a conversation about who is stronger, a better fighter, and so forth. That's a four word subject line, but carries within it a world of additional meaning that depends on the background, expectations, and mind set of the reader. That's a basic but clear example of concision.
Someone like me, with a completely different set of mental wiring, might expect a graphic of She-Hulk flirting with a blushing Superman, or even one of Superman putting Hulk to sleep with an extended discussion of how hard it is and angsty and depressed it makes you to have a life where you're gorgeous, invulnerable, and loved the world over. (Warning: snarky new52 reference.)
(I would have inserted inline graphics, or even clickable links, that demonstrate the scenes I just described but I don't have the necessary number of total posts to be trusted.)
And this is what I meant by "subvert" in the case of this discussion. I wasn't raised in what is considered a "normal" environment, and I have a different mental map I chart life against than someone who was. When Concision is used I often accidentally subvert the expectations of the conversation by misinterpreting the intent of a concise term or phrase by not having the expected mental referents, emotional attachments, or cultural metaphors.
I don't have a mental model of Judeo-Christian metaphor and imagery based on my childhood experiences and enculturation. My "map" is wrong, and will lead me to faulty conclusions. I won't see a snake in the Super-Shield-as-ink-blot-test, I'll see two fish. Like my last post, where I left you rolling your eyes and wondering WTF, I have to expect to explain myself. You're not talking to Penny, you're talking to Amy Farrah Fowler.*
That was the meaning of my short story about the shield, snake, and fish. Which is, again, a reason I'll let you state your thesis without a lot of commentary until I have a better understanding.
* I love the fact that I now have a "concise" cultural referent.
Based on what you've written above, I think you would enjoy the writings of Daniel T. Willingham. He said essentially the same thing in different words in the following article. I've copied and pasted the most relevant excerpt from the article to corroborate what you said and give you a head start on reading. You'll need to highlight it, though -- I'm keeping it "dark" so anyone uninterested in reading it can simply skip past.
Shared Knowledge Is Essential to
Back in the 1970s, when I was doing research on reading and writing, the field of psycholinguistics was just beginning to emphasize
that the chief factor in the comprehension of language is relevant knowledge about the topic at hand.
That finding has since been replicated many times, in different ways and with varying constraints, both in the laboratory and in the classroom.
The specific knowledge dependence of reading comprehension becomes obvious when we take the time to reflect on what any given bit of text assumes the reader already knows. For a simple example, here is a passage from a sample 10th-grade Florida state test of reading comprehension:
The origin of cotton is something of a mystery. There is evi-
dence that people in India and Central and South America
domesticated separate species of the plant thousands of
years ago. Archaeologists have discovered fragments of cot-
ton cloth more than 4,000 years old in coastal Peru and at
Mohenjo Daro in the Indus Valley. By A.D. 1500, cotton had
spread across the warmer regions of the Americas, Eurasia,
Today cotton is the world’s major nonfood crop, providing
half of all textiles. In 1992, 80 countries produced a total of 83
million bales, or almost 40 billion pounds. The business revenue generated—some 50 billion dollars in the United States
alone—is greater than that of any other field crop.
It would take many pages to indicate even a significant fraction
of the tacit knowledge needed to understand this passage. The
main subject, cotton, is not defined. The reader must already
know what it is, a reasonable assumption. It also helps to have an
idea of how it grows, and how it is harvested and then put into
bales. (What’s a bale?)
Then consider the throwaway statement that different people “domesticated separate species of the plant thousands of years ago.”
To domesticate a species of a plant is not an action that is self-evident from everyday knowledge. Ask a group of 10th-graders what it means to domesticate a plant, and chances are that most will not know.
Of course, they should know.
Domestication of plants is fundamental to human history.
But I suspect most do not, and so they will not understand that part of
the passage. The writer of this passage (which was, the state of
Florida informs us, taken from National Geographic) clearly expected his readers to know what cotton is and what plant domestication is.
He expected them to know that the Indus Valley is many thousands of miles from Peru. (How many 10th-graders know that?)
This passage illustrates the way reading comprehension works
in the real world of magazines, training manuals, textbooks, newspapers, Web sites, books, etc.
Writers assume that readers know some things but not others. In this case, readers were expected to know some geography and history, and something about agriculture, but not how long human beings have used cotton—the new
information supplied in the passage.
That is exactly how new information is always offered: it is embedded in a mountain of knowledge that readers are expected to have already in their long-
That is the way language always works.
And it is the way language must work.
Just imagine how cumbersome your newspaper would be if, in reporting on a baseball game, it did not assume you already knew what “pitching,” “being at bat,” and “hitting a home run” mean. Instead of a short synopsis of last night’s
game, you’d get paragraph after paragraph that (boringly)
explained the basics of the game.
Of course, if you didn’t know anything about baseball, a short synopsis of the game wouldn’t make any sense (no matter how many comprehension strategies you had mastered) ...
2nd part of my response to this, Iopy. Or rather, Daniel T. Willingham's. Hopefully you are NOT part of the United Kingdom, or some historically associated country, like India. If you're as I think you are, you should find it almost astonishing how well Willingham illustrates the point of his previous paragraphs here, which, again, you'll be able to read by cursor-highlighting ...
[SPOILER - highlight to read]:
Not convinced? Give this passage on cricket, from the online
site of the British newspaper, "The Guardian", a try:
Much depended on Ponting and the new wizard of Oz, Mike
Hussey, the two overnight batsmen. But this duo perished
either side of lunch—the latter a little unfortunate to be
adjudged leg-before—and with Andrew Symonds, too,
being shown the dreaded finger off an inside edge, the inev-
itable beckoned, bar the pyrotechnics of Michael Clarke
and the ninth wicket.
This is perfectly understandable for virtually all British readers,
but at the dim edge of comprehensibility for most American readers.
Yet the words are familiar enough.
There is not a single word except maybe “leg-before” that I could not use effectively in a sentence.
Comprehension is not just a matter of knowing words—
and it is certainly not a matter of mastering comprehension strategies.
What makes the passage incomprehensible to me is that I
don’t know much about cricket.
In language use, there is always a great deal that is left unsaid
and must be inferred. This means that communication depends
on both sides, writer and reader, sharing a great deal of
This large body of tacit knowledge is precisely what our students are not being adequately taught in our schools.
Specific subject-matter knowledge over a broad range of domains is the key to language comprehension—and, as a result, to a broad ability to learn new things. It is the cornerstone of competence and adaptability in the modern world.
(Cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham thoroughly explained this in the Spring 2006 issue of American Educator.
See “How Knowledge Helps: It Speeds and Strengthens Reading Comprehension, Learning—and Thinking,”
Hearing this is a little disconcerting. For even many of the atheists I know of online, the completely a-religious, yet have familiarity with a great many religious stories, and perhaps those of the Bible especially.
Did you understand why the writer of Countdown 13 was calling Superboy Prime "The Beast" in the scan that I showed? Or at least recognize that the phrase IS a religious reference? This will require a lot more work than I thought if one even as yourself has zero familiarity with the original "longhand" version of what's being modeled.
The question posed (paraphrased) is "What is Satan Girl's terrible secret?".
The answer, is that
[SPOILER - highlight to read]: Satan Girl is part of Supergirl. She is merely an aspect of Supergirl given "independence" through the power of Red Kryptonite. When the effect of the radioactive mineral wears off, she becomes again a part of Kara.
If you've read the "shaded" portion above, note now that the themes I'm seeing are generally suggested more directly where they concern Kara or Diana as opposed to Kal-El alone in his solo adventures. Perhaps even stronger suggestions relating to the title can be viewed by previewing the Supergirl run of Peter David, which I intend to address a bit later.