Child's Play: Myth, Mimesis and Make-Believe

By L. R. Goldman | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
The Ogre: A Melanesian Cyclop

In almost every race and people throughout the globe, traditions and legends are to be found of monstrous and gigantic beings who were supposed to live in caves, forests or mountains, to the terror of normal human beings.

Thompson 1968:129

In every culture we find ogres, and they have nothing to do with basic or non- basic institutions . . . but rather the undeveloped infantile ego with its aggression, identification and anxiety.

Roheim 1950:4-5


Introduction

As ubiquitous inhabitants of the Weltmärchen world, ogres, bogies, goblins and other 'frightening figures' ( Widdowson 1971) are emblems of imaginative processes which generate fiction as a modality of historical experience. The magnification of monstrousness in which children and adults delight rearranges the known to portray the unknown either in some mythic past or in some verisimilitude of time. Needham has referred more generally to such protean forms as 'synthetic images' ( 1978:41) in which a set of features combines to constitute a complex that has, he argued, global distribution and constancy. Such contrivances of the imagination, anthropologists have long claimed, disclose a predisposition to abrogate constraint. Humans seek to transcend the limits of reality by conjuring the impossible -- images 'like you can't imagine'. As products of the imaginative consciousness ogres quintessentially embody what Coleridge ( 1906:161) talked of as 'poetic faith' -- the importance humans attach to willing others to suspend disbelief in represesentations that are proclaimed as at the same time 'beyond belief. Myth producers, in which class this book has argued must be included child pretenders, are seeking to purchase an immunity from convention, and yet paradoxically the efficacy of their fiction depends on its power to redescribe and remake their reality ( Ricoeur 1978:123; Evans-Pritchard 1967:30).

-174-

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Child's Play: Myth, Mimesis and Make-Believe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Explorations in Anthropology A University College London Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Bibliography xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Transcription Conventions xix
  • Abbreviations xx
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 Naming and Gaming 48
  • Chapter 2 Pretend Play 100
  • Introduction 100
  • Conclusions 142
  • Chapter 3 Changing Roles 145
  • Introduction 145
  • Conclusion 172
  • Chapter 4 the Ogre: A Melanesian Cyclop 174
  • Introduction 174
  • Chapter 5 the Trickster: A Melanesian Enantiomorph 228
  • Introduction 228
  • Afterword 258
  • Appendix 1 262
  • Appendix 2 273
  • Bibliography 276
  • Index 295
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