Inspiration From the Search Strings

(Originally posted on LiveJournal)

I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous entries how I sometimes check the search strings that bring people to my website. It’s a rather interesting activity, that I don’t do often enough. I stopped checking my website stats frequently, because at present, once I get past what seems to be terrific numbers, I realize that the high number of hits are the spam bots and search engine spiders. I started realizing this, when I noticed that the pages that got the highest number of hits (hundreds of them), were the registration pages for my message board and the Word Press blogs connected with my sites. *sigh*

Searching on the road

Once I ignore all the hits for the message board and blogs, I average about 48 visitors a month. Which all things considered isn’t really bad, considering I don’t really push for traffic much. Once I get myself back into gear and update it (it has needed an update for some time), and keep updating it with new material, I might do that. In the meantime, like I said, it’s fun to see how “strangers” got there.

A lot of these strings deal with the hero’s quest, or the nature of the hero. Some of them deal with heroines — interesting that there is still the consideration of the female figure as the non-active, or somehow distinct in nature from the hero.I have, of course, commented on that point before.

There are some good springboards in the search strings, that I will flesh out either here. But the one that caught my attention for today was the question of “What makes one a hero or heroine in our culture?”

(I do get the impression that some of the search strings come from homework assignments, and the students are looking for things that can give them a clue on which way to jump. But they’re still interesting.)

What does make one a hero in our culture these days? There is the obvious aspect of delivering groups of people to safety in dangerous circumstances — like the pilot who landed his commercial airplane in the Hudson River without loss of life to any of the passengers. So, I guess we could say that the ability to cope with sudden disaster is one quality that makes for a hero in our culture. What else? A concern for others over one’s own self-preservation. Now, memories of the First Responders who rushed into the World Trade Center and did everything they could to get as many people out of the towers as they possibly could, that was definitely putting others before one’s own survival. How about quick wits and quick reactions? (I can think of occasions where, though they might be ideal qualities, they aren’t necessary.)

When it comes down to it, I don’t think the qualities that make for a hero have changed all that much down the ages. It’s more to the point that I don’t think we see quite as many occasions for heroism these days – at least not in the sense that an “unknown” jumps into the breach. We have “profressionally trained heroes” in our police officers and firemen. (Which is not to say that there are not some bad apples in the ranks.) Have we come to rely on them so much, that we no longer think that a true hero can be anyone?

There are stories of social disengagement often enough these days, of people who stand by when something dire is happening, who just watch but do not engage. Does our Observer Society lead us to consider “heroes” to be “someone other than me”? Have we really reached a point where we think heroism calls for special qualities that only some people have?

Points for mulling over — what do you think?

Comments

sartorias – Aug. 24th, 2009

I think it’s more complicated than that . . .

will have to update my own links–looks like my post that mentioned the book is way down in my own LJ and gets few visitors any more.

scribblerworks – Aug. 24th, 2009

Oh, I agree it’s complicated. But worth looking at.

The search string set off a train of thought, and I haven’t really reached any conclusions on it yet. It’s just that it wouldn’t have occured to me that heroism might be different now (in character, at least) than in the past. So, I’d be interested in some reactions. 🙂

nthdraft – Aug. 25th, 2009

um yeah 🙂 the hero(ine)’s journey stuff is kind of why I friended you (well that and I like what you post on Colleen Doran’s blog). “what makes a hero” is one of the side themes of my current project.

scribblerworks – Aug. 25th, 2009

And happy to have you here! (Readers are always good. 😉 )

Because the search strings for stuff on “heroines” keep coming up, I’ve been thinking about what to write regarding it. There are a number of things I could do. I’ll have to reread my posts here, and my old Mythopoesis column first. And then I think I’ll write up a paper/article to post on the website, since if I do a serious job, it’s likely to be longer than I like for an LJ post.

I did write a paper dealing with the matter of the traditional heroine in The Silmarillion years ago, but… well, I haven’t wanted to put any of my Tolkien scholarship online. Mainly because I think I could make a book of it eventually, and putting it online would undercut that.

But doing something on the traditional heroine in other stories, I could do that. It would be practice for next year’s Mythcon — the theme for that is “War in Heaven”, and I feel sure I can get at least one paper idea out of that concept! 😀

Ah! Recreational scholarship! Haven’t done that in a while.

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