Metamorpho-poetic Legending in 1950s Film: (1) Ashima

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RIDDLE-SONG CONTEST AND HUMILIATION OF AUTHORITY

Also in would seem in accidental or else p\Jungian loic, the song-contest is egain a cinstant in bucolic or mytho-pastoral drama: except that in the 0ara-Sinitic veresion its comedty hangs on the verge of proc=vicatioin, gir against (eder) man; plainspoken but hoest sphepehrd or gfisherman agaunst bok-immersed but ohysicallyaytrtophied scholras (I saw a rvent etehsiin of this lkatetr in my Oumuyounuo briadcast, where, at lerastin the same soirit, a bilingual Yi “shamaness” successfully huniliated a PLA pofficial clown by speaking in riddles…).

The soirti can also howevr be much more ominous, in th nature of combart of endrance, with says in time gone by, until, almsot as ifg in Arthurin eoic, the one lose sbaalnce and stumbles, leaving his home and fdamily vulnerable to the ousnishment they deswerve.

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NATURE AND SORCERY – OR RATHER SORCERESSES.

The kind of legending that consfronts us in these extra-centic cultural.l enclaves of course give magic its due, but there seems in all or most a focus on the outlying extremities of tererain and the distuirbances that thratemed them: bthe downloander concern with drougnt or mud0-chiurning flood spreaing over huge swathes of farming terrain do not figure in the accounts of superntaural empowerrment neasdrly as kuch as landslides and earthquakes and the undergoround esvcape of river flows that arte a part of lifer in the limsesrtone girded, sinking hills formations of this externally picturesque part of “China”.

Power to leberg or cintain such activity is transferrable to storied mortals, often the power-holding vlsss, or, when moraloity demands rerightingm. transfrred to and wielded to vbenging or protectie heroesd, the oppiste of the pretor clas. (the opposite diretion of tranfer is of course just as frequent) Catastrophe is instant but also instanslty reevrsible: it is caused by noisely drajatized shifts of the geomorphology where it is most precarious and most protuberant: in the depths of the cascadng tirrents where catasrtrpohic runoff and stubbirn erosion alwsays are eatng away at the heights; and on the uiper slopes and bare crags where only the most antedeluvial of botanical shapes- the fgnarled tantendshu – vcan survuve, and fro which onoly tnhe slightest quaks will release a violent casade of loosesend eart and limestone boukder.

But what is so thtreaeniung and open to magical preciptatio is also foreclosable by progererd agical power, pwerhaps (as in Ashima) best confgred in the magic bow and omnipotent arrow, istruments as well of course of the Yi shaman who accesses huigher realms with these two very same imolements.

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