Daily Archives: May 13, 2011

Frye on Luck

Odysseus and Aeolus

Yet another charm to chase away the spirits of bad luck today. Luck, good and bad, Frye says in The Secular Scripture, is infectious:

The most basic term for this current of energy is luck (Icelandic gaefa). Luck is highly infectious: the lucky man can always form a comitatus or group of devoted followers around him. Once his he has lost his luck, he finds that bad luck is equally infectious: the unlucky man must be avoided like the plague, because he in a sense is the plague. When Ulysses in Homer returns to Aeolus to explain that through no fault of his own he has run into misfortune, Aeolus tell him to clear out, that an unlucky man is hated by the gods, and he will have nothing more to do with him [Odyssey, bk. 10, ll. 70-75]. (CW 18, 45-6)

TGIF: “Royal Pudding”

The Prince and Princess of Canada

South Park sends up the royal wedding by setting it in Canada. As always when it comes to South Park portrayals of Canada, the joke is that massive ignorance about us means anything can be attributed to us. We speak with sort-of English accents and have an insatiable appetite for fart humor. Our favorite expression is “You’re a dick.” And, of course, our royal weddings have traditions all their own, including showering the royal couple with Captain Crunch as they make their way down the aisle. You can watch the episode here.

Here’s Frye in A Natural Perspective on the genesis of sentimentality regarding the royal family which continues to this day, even as the royals themselves begin to look more and more like b-list celebrities. The “fairy tale” aspect of a royal wedding retains an absurdly sentimental hold upon the public imagination, even thirty years after Diana Spencer’s Grimm’s fairy tale version of it:

There is a famous story about the reaction of a Victorian lady to Antony and Cleopatra: “How different from the domestic relations in our own royal family.” The basis of the remark is the mental attitude of the audience appealed to by the sentimental domestic comedy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (CW 28, 208)

The enduring literary jimmying of this kind of sentiment is pretty remarkable. If, as Wilde says, life imitates art, it could do better than this.



It’s Friday the 13th and it seems prudent to be impudent in order to drive off any threat of bad luck.

In related news, it’s also the 72nd anniversary of the launch of the first FM radio station in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

That calls for Steely Dan — a band whose career unfolded during the golden years of FM radio — performing “FM” live.

It’s always said that they don’t write them like this anymore. But this time it’s true. They don’t. And before Steely Dan they didn’t really write them like this at all. This was in its heyday the ultimate geek band: smart, sardonic, exhibitionistically introverted, and really really really seriously good musicians. The kind of highly trained geek musicians where other highly trained but not yet as successful geek musicians would sit and listen for hours to transcribe their instrumental solos. And that would constitute a totally hot Saturday night. Yes, Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are older now — Fagan can’t quite sustain the implied sneer in his vocal delivery with the steady conviction he once could. But this is still Steely Dan. It’s going to be more memorable than just about anything else you’re likely to encounter today.

So with Steely Dan as our talisman, bad luck doesn’t have much of a chance. In fact, as of today, invoking Steely Dan’s singular power, we’re banishing bad luck for a period lasting no fewer than seven years.

I’ll trundle some Frye out later today which will be at least tangentially related to all of this.

And then our victory over bad lack shall be complete.