Category Archives: Myth

Ted’s Top Comics for 2010

  1. Scarlet, Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev
  2. Northlanders, Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli
  3. Mysterious, Jeff Parker & Tom Fowler
  4. Captain Swing, Warren Ellis & Raulo Caceres
  5. Underground, Jeff Parker & Steve Leiber
  6. Thunderbolts, Jeff Parker & Kev Walker
  7. Ultimate Avengers, Mark Millar & Steve Dillon
  8. Hulk, Jeff Parker & Gabriel Hardman
  9. Powers, Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming
  10. DMZ, Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli
  11. Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
  12. Demo, Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan
  13. Rasl, Jeff Smith
  14. New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen
  15. Atlas, Jeff Parker & Gabriel Hardman
  16. Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis & John Romita Jr.
  17. Batman: Streets of Gotham, Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen
  18. Gotham City Sirens, Paul Dini & Guillem March
  19. Avengers Prime, Brian Michael Bendis & Alan Davis
  20. Ultimate Spiderman, Brian Michael Bendis & David LaFuente

Tedcast #3: Interviewed by Erik Davis

The third Tedcast takes a break from my Fantasy & Science Fiction lectures to present an interview with me conducted by Erik Davis. Erik hosts Expanding Minds on the Progressive Radio Network, and is author of numerous books, including a great study of Led Zeppelin IV and the new collection Nomad Codes. Erik and I go back to college, where we worked together on a zine. Here we talk about the Centaur Manifesto, critical theory, and the tensions between being an academic and a public intellectual.

Centaur Manifesto

I’m writing a book about centaurs and cyborgs – about trying to bring together mythos and logos, magic and science, Carl Jung and Karl Marx, Maria Von Franz and Fredric JamesonI’m podcasting the book via my lectures on Tedcast. I’m tweeting the book via the #centaur hashtag. And I’m blogging the book here.

The book expands my work on politics, myth, fantasy, and the ideas of Karl Marx and Carl Jung. Theoretically, it’s a marriage of post-Marxist critical theory with post-Jungian depth psychology. My hope is the combination will prove, if not a dialectical synthesis, perhaps an alchemical reaction – what Jung calls syzygy, the marriage of opposites.

Jung like Marx began as a Hegelian. Alchemy is Jung’s own revision of Hegel’s dialectic, just as deconstruction is for Derrida. The Buddhist version is my personal favorite: the middle way. Which leads to emptiness, no-self, nirvana. And as Jack Kornfield puts it, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.

The book began as a series of essays in the media studies journals Flow and Scope in 2009 on Jungian approaches to cultural studies:

My most recent work has been on games as forms of active imagination. Here’s a short slideshow I made about the social game Farmville and active imagination. It accompanied a piece I contributed to the digital humanities journal In Media Res, “Farmville: the Garden in the Machine.”

Here’s an interview I did with David Metcalfe, who runs the wonderfulOpenMythSource.com. He also wrote a very thoughtful follow-up piece about my work, “Digital Gardening,” and republished “Myth, the Numinous & Cultural Studies.”

And here’s a talk I gave a couple of years ago about the politics of fantasy films.

Farmville Mandalas

Tedwood Forest

Tedwood Forest

Ted's Labyrinth

Ted's Labyrinth

MinMax

MinMax

Winter Labyrinth

Winter Labyrinth

Poinsetta Labyrinth

Poinsetta Labyrinth

Carrot Labyrinth

Carrot Labyrinth

Peppermint Labyrinth

Peppermint Labyrinth


Click here for “Farmville: The Garden in the Machine.” In Media Res (December 8, 2010).

Tedcast #2: Magic and Extrapolation

My rebooted podcast, TedCast, is up and running. The first few episodes will come from Fantasy and Science Fiction, a course I teach at GSU. Future episodes will cover cultural studies, new media, film history, and eventually  everything else I talk about in public.

In Episode 2, we discuss the key tropes of fantasy and science fiction: magic and extrapolation.

To subscribe to TedCast in iTunes, click here.

For the TedCast RSS feed, click here.

Episode 2 – Magic & Extrapolation

Tedcast #1: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Here’s  Episode 1 of Tedcast, my rebooted podcast. It’s the first class in Fantasy and Science Fiction Media, a class I taught at GSU in Fall 2010. In this opening lecture, I introduce the concept of genre and discuss what distinguishes fantasy and science fiction, and what they share.

To subscribe to Tedcast on iTunes, click here.

The Politics of Fantasy

Here’s a talk I gave at Berry College on the politics of fantasy films, broken into six parts.

I begin by talking about the fantasy boom in the last decade, in which the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Shrek, Chronicles of Naria, Spiderman and Pirates of the Carribbean franchises became Hollywood’s top worldwide grossers.

I continue by looking at the parallels and differences between fantasy and science fiction. Fantasy and science fiction are both forms of myth, I argue, and thus speak the archetpyal language of the unconscious. SF, however, dresses up this irrationality with the clothes of scientific empiricicm, while fantasy embraces the irrational logic of dreams through the trope of magic.

Here I talk about to magic as a metaphor for our alienated relationship with technology.

I quote and unpack Arthur C. Clarke‘s famous line, “Any technology sufficiently advanced from our own would be indistinguishable from magic.”

I also discuss:

– The parallels between the fantasy trope of manna and the medical/spiritual concepts of chi/prana.

– The parallels between spellmaking and computer programming.

– The fantasy genre as the realm of the unconscious.

– Jung vs. Freud

Here I get to Carl Jung’s influence on America and Hollywood via Joseph Campbell, George Lucas, and screenwriting guru Christopher Vogler.

I also talk about the limits of Jung and the ideas of post-Jungians such as Andrew Samuels and Christopher Hauke.

I end by discussing the psychology and politics of the Lord of the Rings books and films from a post-Jungian perspective.

The talk ends at 8:30, followed by the first 1:30 of the Q&A.

In this portion of the Q&A, we discuss:

– Star Wars as an SF/fantasy genre hybrid.
– The roots of both SF and fantasy in the mythic tradition
– SF as “fantasy in techno-drag”
– Fantasy as the language of the unconscious
– Horror as the return of the repressed
– Jung’s analysis of Nazism as the projection of Germany’s collective shadow onto the Jews
– Critiques of Jung’s essentialism & the value/limits of social constructionism/anti-essentialism
– Feminist critiques and reworkings of Jung
– Archetypes and cognitive psychology
– Critiques of Campbell’s universalism
– Jungian cognitive psychology as an alternative to naive empiricism

In the final minutes of the Q&A, topics include:

– Why fantasy is still underrepresented on TV
– Comic book superhero stories as fantasy/sf hybrids
– George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire
– The politics of the hero’s journey in Star Wars & Lord of the Rings

FarmVille: The Garden in the Machine

I just wrote a short piece, FarmVille: The Garden in the Machine, as a “curator’s note” for the digital humanities website In Media Res. Here’s the slideshow that goes with it:

Radio Interview on the Centaur Manifesto

Here’s a phone interview I did about the Centaur Manifesto with Erik Davis of Expanding Mind, a show on the Progressive Radio Network. More info about Erik and his work is available at techgnosis.com.

Updates on Tedlog, Tedcast, @tedfriedman, tedfriedman.com, syllabi, & books

I’m in the midst of a blogging-software shift from Movable Type to WordPress, which explains the current inconsistencies between this site (tedfriedman.wordpress.com) and my original website, tedfriedman.com. Eventually I’ll port all of tedfriedman.com over to WordPress, then move this blog itself back to tedfriedman.com, although the tedfriedman.wordpress.com URL should always resolve to right place either way.

In the meantime, until I can unveil tedfriedman.com 3.0, here are links to some of my stuff that’s online:

Tedcast, my podcast, where I post class lectures and interviews. Currently I’m halfway through my two fall 2010 courses: Fantasy & Science Fiction and Media & Cultural Studies.

@tedfriedman, my twitter feed.

My current project, A Centaur Manifesto.

My first book, Electric Dreams: Computers and American Culture (NYU Press, 2005).

Syllabi for all the classes I’ve taught at Georgia State and Duke.

Search the archives of tedfriedman.com,, 2005-2011, including blog posts, book chapters, and journal articles.

A Centaur Manifesto (Updated)

I’m writing a book about centaurs and cyborgs, myth and history, magic and science, Maria Von Franz and Fredric Jameson, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. I’m podcasting the book via my lectures on Tedcast. I’m tweeting the book via the #centaur hashtag. And I’m blogging the book at my new website, CentaurManifesto.com. It should be live within the next day or two. You can get a preview at centaurmanifesto.wordpress.com.

The book expands my work on politics, myth, fantasy, and the ideas of Karl Marx and Carl Jung. Theoretically, it’s a marriage of post-Marxist critical theory with post-Jungian depth psychology. My hope is the combination will prove, if not a dialectical synthesis, perhaps an alchemical reaction – what Jung calls syzygy, the marriage of opposites.

Actually, Jung like Marx began as a Hegelian – alchemy is Jung’s own revision of Hegel’s dialectic, just as deconstruction is for Derrida. The Buddhist version is my personal favorite: the middle way. Which leads to emptiness, no-self, nirvana. And as Jack Kornfield puts it, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

The book began as a series of columns in the media studies journal Flow, plus a longer essay in the film studies journal Scope. You can find links to all my recent writing here.

I’ve also been podcasting lectures from my two classes this semester, Fantasy & Science Fiction and Cultural Studies. Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or here to stream and/or download individual episodes.

You can also follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

And Now a Word from Noisy (Updated)

Hi, I’m Noisy. Won’t you be my neighbor?

I’m the middle of Ted and Kate’s three cats. The newest is Pilot Squeaky, a three month old kitten. Congratulations to Rebecca Jackson, who won the #namethiskitty contest with the suggestion that we name Pilot after the gas station where Rebecca found her. Rebecca will soon be the proud owner of Kiki’s Delivery Service, plus a bonus Miyazaki DVD since she already has the second official prize, Ted’s book Electric Dreams.

I play Farmville and Frontierville every day. I give out lots of Mystery Gifts. Tell your friends about me, too, because I’m trying to build as big a network of neighbors as possible. It’s part of Ted’s research on social games. He’ll be writing about the experience in the upcoming In Media Res theme week on games. In Media Res is the online journal edited by Alisa Perren of the Georgia State University Program in Moving Image Studies. You can find it here.

Ted’s also curating pages for upcoming 2011-12 In Media Res weeks on Jung, Play, Pop Music, Heroes and Shadows. Ted’s looking for contributors to all weeks from inside and outside of academia. Rock critics, public intellectuals, grad students, filmmakers – please all consider joining in. It shouldn’t be too hard. Start by clicking here to find #IMR-hashtagged conversations. Reply to anybody, adding the #IMR hashtag to the end of your tweet so that your tweet can be found by everybody else. Add a second hashtag like #Jung or an address like @katyperry if it might help people find what you have to say.

Ted’s going to curate the feeds on specific topics, then turn them into the Friday roundtable pages for the IMR weeks he edits.

At least, that’s the concept – we’ll see if it works in practice. You can help in the following ways: – Become Facebook Friends with Ted Friedman and two of his cats: Pilot Squeaky and Noisy. The third cat, The Dude, doesn’t yet have a page – Facebook doesn’t approve of Firstname: The, Lastname: Dude. He may sit this out – he’s an introvert anyway.

– Become all of our Neighbors in both Farmville and Frontierville, if you play. If you don’t play, consider trying both.

– Contribute to <In Media Res conversations by going here and adding to the conversation, hashtagging your tweet by including #IMR in your 140 characters.

– Contact Ted Friedman to discuss curating a day or editing a week. You can tweet him @tedfriedman or send an email to ted@tedfriedman.com. The standard format for the weeks Ted edits will be: Mon – Intro by Ted. Tues – 2nd curator. Wed – 3rd curator. Thurs – 4th curator. Fri – 5th curator.

The idea is to hold this discussion in the Commons, in the sense developed by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Commonweath. The Commons isn’t exactly public or private – it’s that Third Space that Jane Jacobs described in The Death and Life of American Cities. At its best, it can be a lot more than a Starbucks or mall food court. This will be the explicit subject of some of the discussions, and the implicit context of all of them. On Facebook, we will treat this private company’s network as a resource fairly purchased with our advertising eyeballs (and probably overpriced, given the data mining they do now do with your info). Same goes for our use of Google, which I assume none of us could do without.  And the publishing side of this venture is In Media Res, an online journal created by Avi Santo with the help of Media Commons.   That’s the concept. If all of you pitch in, we can make it happen.  So, won’t you be my neighbor?

Noisy

Welcome to the new Tedlog.

Here’s the rebooted Tedlog, now subtitled Mythos and Logos on the Commons. This site will replace the old Tedlog: Culture, Politics and Technology, which I started about five years ago with the help of the incredible Nate Steiner. I’ll be blogging about my current project, A Centaur Manifesto, which is about bringing together the discourses of fantasy and science fiction in order to imagine better futures. It brings together the ideology theory of Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Zizek and Phillip Wegner with the depth psychology of post-Jungians like Robert Johnson, James Hillman, Andrew Samuels, David Tacey, and Susan Rowland.

2 Baseball Posts from 2008

According to Bob Klapisch, Daryl Strawberry has found peace and contentment as a Mets hitting instructor and advocate for autistic children. Doc Gooden, on the other hand, is apparently still struggling with his demons.

I can still remember watching Strawberry during batting practice at Shea shortly after his rookie callup, in 1983. Only 21 years old, he had a dazed look in his eyes, as if he wasn’t exactly sure how he’d ended up in New York City. That expression went from vulnerable to hangdog over the years, as the fans turned on him, mockingly chanting “Darrr-ylll” in a Nelson Muntz singsong. Like Michael Jackson, Linsey Lohan, or Britney Spears, he grew up in public. When it falls apart for somebody like that, I find it hard not to, well, blame the public, myself included – hey, I may not read Perez Hilton, but I do watch Best Week Ever, which launders celebrity rumors just as newscasts launder Matt Drudge’s political snark.

In the classic Simpsons baseball episode, the opposing fans go into the “Darrr-ylll” chant when Strawberry steps to the plate. A teammate comments that Strawberry’s a professional, so it’ll roll right off him – then we cut to Strawberry, a single tear trickling down his face. I always thought that joke held more truth than we fans would like to admit. (Actually, that whole episode is worth rewatching – remember Ken Griffey’s “grotesquely swollen head”? In the show, it’s caused by drinking too much of a Springfield patent medicine, but after all we’ve learned about the changes in Barry Bonds’s hat size, it comes off a lot differently today.)

Some people just aren’t built for the media glare. From George Foster to Ed Whitson to Chuck Knoblauch to Roberto Alamar to Jeff Weaver, many established vetrans come to New York and wilt. I guess that means they “don’t have what it takes,” compared to the heroes with icewater in their veins, like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. But every player – every person – is a bundle of strengths and limitations. Jeter doesn’t have great range at short. Mo can’t get through a season any more without a few trips to the DL. And some players just don’t click with the hyperactive media culture of New York City. (I guess I can relate – I lived in NYC for one year after college, then hightailed it to grad school in North Carolina.) Those players probably just shouldn’t play in markets where dozens of reporters hound you after every game when you’re just trying to clean up and go home – just as righthanded pull hitters like Don Baylor probably shouldn’t play in a ballpark that’s 430′ to left center. Paul O’Neil, a lefty who thrives under pressure, was a much better fit.

Savvy management maximizes its players’ strengths and minimizes their weaknesses, while keeping its eye on the long term. But Strawberry and Gooden were just squeezed for everything they had, future be damned – Doc’s arm was never the same after he’d pitched a boggling 35 complete games by the age of 21.

Stawberry told Klapisch that he helps autistic children because they “have that pain in their eyes that I can relate to.” I think that’s the look I saw in Strawberry’s eyes back in 1983. I’m so glad to hear that after years of injury, addiction, and a battle with cancer, he’s finally in such a good place. And when I hear about Gooden, I feel sorry – and guilty.


Peter Gammons Leans to Obama

From Gammons’s ESPN Insider blog:

“The Angels know who they got in Torii Hunter — a man who drips energy and preaches hope and potential. There are numbers that will quantify what Hunter is or isn’t worth, just as there are politicians who try to tell us that “experience” is far more important than the foundation of hope and potential. Those numbers don’t matter as much as Hunter’s ability to energize and inspire his teammates, with character that cannot be quantified.”

As an Obama fan, I’m tickled, but I’m perturbed to see him equated with an aging, overpriced outfielder, however much of a mensch Hunter is. Who does that make Hillary – maybe an uninspiring sabermetric fave like Jack Cust?

Posted by tedf at 04:55 PMComments (0)

Pop Culture 2.0?

Originally posted September 6, 2006

It’s the end of an era. Two of the most influential figures in American pop culture were fired this week: Tom Freston and Robert Christgau. Freston, who was head of Viacom’s cable networks, was one of the key executives behind the rise of MTV. Christgau is the self-proclaimed “Dean of American Rock Critics,” the writer who redefined the rock canon away from the populism of the mainstream music press, and toward what he sometimes called “semipopular music.”

Freston got canned after the MTV Music Video Awards continued their ratings freefall this year, while MTV’s web offerrings got their clocks cleaned by “Web 2.0” social networking juggernauts MySpace and YouTubeChristgau got axed after the Village Voice was sold to an alternaweekly chain desperately trying to compete with craigslist’s free classified ads.

The old frameworks for making sense of pop culture are starting to collapse. Pop’s presumed market of scarcity – only a handful of songs can make it to heavy rotation, only a handful of artists can become stars – is being overwhelmed by an information explosion. On MySpace, thousands of local band listings sit side by side with Paris Hilton promotions – and Paris needs the locals more than they need her. No one indie band has the reach of a pop star, but it’s the community they’ve built that brings eyeballs to Paris’s page. Meanwhile, viewers are tuning out TV channels and becoming their own programmers on YouTube.

The demassification of American popular culture continues. Every year, the big networks lose ground to cable, while the big cable channels lose ground to the profusion of newer digital channels. The big record labels’ sales shrink, while the global jukebox becomes available on all-you-can-download subscription services like Rhapsody. Radio listeners abandon terrestrial’s shrunken playlists for Sirius and XM. “The Long Tail” grows ever longer.

Which explains not only Freston’s departure, but perhaps Christgau’s, too. When the mainstream dissolves, how do we define the margins? If there’s no longer such a thing as pop, how can there still be punk?

Christgau himself was never an indie snob – he’s always had the open-earedness to praise a big star like Garth Brooks if he thought the music earned it. And I’m sure he’ll land on his feet – some smart publication should grab him for some instant hipster credibility. Freston, I’m not so sure about, although I’m confident his parachute was much more golden than Christgau’s. But the real question is what comes next.

Pop Culture 2.0 no longer needs a lowest common denominator. Traditional media companies are always out to score a blockbuster, because it’s so much more efficient to sell one product to one million customers, rather than a thousnd products to a thousand customers each. But to MySpace, it’s all the same. They make their money off ads, and a million pageviews is a million pageviews, no matter how they’re sliced up. In fact, better they be a thousand different pages with a thousand viewers each – all the more room for growth. Finally, the economics are on the side of cultural diversity.

That doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way. I’m sure that Fox, which bought MySpace, would love to see it simply replace MTV as pop’s top tastemaker. But I doubt we’ll ever again see the kind of teen monoculture I lived through in the 1980s. There’s just too much cool stuff out there to listen to. Christgau’s the one who taught me that. And now everybody’s figuring it out.

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