Glossary of Katabatic Terms a/k/a IDENTIFICATION BAIT
appreciation of beauty strictly for its own sake, as opposed to any
benefit it can confer to the one hearing or seeing it. Traditionally
associated with the arts and/or with nature. To those who claim that
aesthetics are utterly useless to human experiences, the Deluxe Yours
Truly has two words: Bohemian Effing Rhapsody.
Allegory (figurative language)
Best described as an elaborate metaphor, or an extended symbolic
comparison. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" in Republic 7 is probably
the most famous: human perception of reality is compared to viewing
shadows created by others holding objects between a bright fire and the
cave wall. Dante's Inferno is an excellent example of a religious
Latin for "another I." Term for a character who is a near equivalent of
another character, usually the protagonist. For example, Enkidu is
expressly created as an alter ego for Gilgamesh. The Nose may be an
alter ego for Major Kovalyov; alternatively, it may not be. Dwayne
Hoover and Kilgore Trout are alter egos in Breakfast of Champions;
Vonnegut becomes their alter ego when he enters into the text.
Greek for an "upward journey." A term for a return from a katabasis.
More often than not, it is treated in literature and film as somewhat
of an afterthought. Vergil, on the other hand, says it is the toughest
part: click this link for the specific reference in the Aeneid, read in the original Latin and (thank Jupiter) translated for your reading pleasure.
A universally recognized symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a
prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated. For
purposes of this class, it refers primarily to personality types such
as the Mother Figure, the Bartender, and the Dead Dude. Some believe
that these archetypes have always existed within the human
subconscious. This may be true. If you want to know more, please feel free to
inquire at the Psychology Department.
Dispenser of drinks and good (usually unheeded, though) advice to
katabatic heroes passing through. Often connected with a liminal
experience. The bartender can also give directions, in which role he or she can also be construed as a guide.
The combination of physical environment, historical background, or
other unique circumstances with which a given story or artistic work is
best understood. Ability to apply the proper context is a function of CULTURAL COMPETENCE.
Dead Dude (archetype)
Often, the hero's descent to the underworld is provoked by the
death of an acquaintance, a friend, or a family member. Confronted by
this (usually) unexpected loss, the hero travels to the underworld
either for consolation or to address his/her own fears of
mortality. The loss of the Dead Dude can also be explained as a
"sacrifice," in return for which the hero is permitted to descend to
the underworld and return to his or her previous life on Earth.
The opposite of a Utopia (eu-topia). Often mistaken - intentionally so - for a symbolic hell. Gogol's Saint Petersburg in Nose and Vonnegut's Midland City in Breakfast of Champions are good examples.
Originally a term for poetry composed by non-literate poets for
non-literate audiences on a serious topic: often a great mythological
or historical (or both) event. Epic poetry is by nature repetitive
because neither the epic poet nor the audience have access to writing.
The repetitions are literally the poetic building blocks of the entire
story. Originally, epic poetry was "made from scratch" every time the
epic poet began singing: despite the poetic building blocks, human
nature (e.g. memory failure, inspiration) invariably caused variations.
Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey are examples of true epic poetry: they existed in oral form before they were written down. The Aeneid and the Inferno, however, were conceived and constructed as written epic poetry.
Using imagery, metaphors,
and stuff like that to convey meanings which cannot be explained in
mere words. Closely related to the sublime. How can you explain in mere
words the awesomeness of Bohemian Rhapsody?
Imagery (figurative language)
The use of words and
terminology related to the natural world, intended to suggest ideas and
emotions rather than attempting to describe them literally.
From the Latin limen, meaning "threshold." Usually a "point of no
crossed by the katabatic hero on route to his or her
destination. For instance, Gilgamesh and Enkidu have a liminal
experience at the gate of the Cedar Forest; likewise Mount Mashu
provides a liminal experience for Gilgamesh on his journey to speak
A literalist is someone who cannot or will not understand figurative language. A literalist processes information
The common name for a number of ancient civilizations which arose in
"Mesopotamia" (the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in
modern day Iraq). Also a really cool song
by They Might Be Giants. Note that the following dates are not precise, and overlap at times;
also, the Assyrians and the Babylonians occasionally dominated each
other for up to centuries at a time.
- Sumerians (4100 BC-2350 BC)
- Akkadians (2350 BC-2193 BC)
- Assyrians (2112 BC-1056 BC)
- Babylonians (1894 BC-539 BC)
Metaphor (figurative language)
A metaphor uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a
less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea. The earliest
probably best example is "Life is a road." Another outstanding example
is the scene in which the eponymous protagonist of Forrest Gump
explains that life is like a box of chocolates.
Joseph Campbell's term for the hero's quest in his earliest and most famous work, The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
I've read it several times; it offers some extremely valuable insights.
On the other hand, I believe the traditions he cites (and of which he
certainly demonstrates mastery) are too diverse in their cultural basis
and their narratological idiosyncrasies to admit of the syntheses he so
loves to create in this and in his other works. If you've made it this
far into the glossary entry, you should definitely read it.
Parable (figurative language)
A short, concise story (as opposed to an allegory, which can be very
lengthy) featuring human characters, which explains a concept via an
parable of the Good Shepherd (Matthew 18:12–14 and Luke 15:3–7) does
not state that God is employed as a shepherd, but describes God's love
in terms of a shepherd searching for a stray sheep in a storm.
A literalist would infer that God the Creator is a weatherbeaten dude
who spends all of his time wading through drainage ditches and looking
for lost livestock.
Utnapishtim's story of the Great Flood is in effect a parable, which
Gilgamesh pretty much misses entirely.
Conductor of souls to the world of the dead; Hermes is a good example
from Greek mythology. The term can also be used of a guide, which is
the role Vergil plays for Dante in the Inferno.
Name for a nation or society where human existence is as perfect as
human beings can possibly make it. Plato's Republic was probably the
first literary example of a utopia, but the term itself was invented by
Saint Sir Thomas More
for his 1516 book. Probably not exactly the same as a Garden of Eden or
Hesiodic Golden Age, since each of those societies is a gift from the