Time for another round of idle speculations and wishful propaganda.
In one early post I asked for potential rivals to The Ravages of Time that are better when it comes to all four criteria of allusions/citations, philosophizing, convoluted schemes, and (implicit or explicit) social commentary – so far I have yet to find such a worthy series, though lots of texts here and there beat Ravages in at least one or two or even three of those benchmarks. In another previous post I mused about ‘ideal’ and ‘utopian’ conditions where Ravages could flourish. For this piece I shall shift the contours of the conjecture a bit and ask: what happens if Ravages dominates the worlds of fiction (production and consumption)? In other words, imagine a world where every fictional piece (and some narratives deemed ‘non-fictional’) is following and cultivating what I would call ‘the Ravages template’.
Note: if this exercise comes off as a bizarre and excessive display of favoritism, that’s mainly because I desperately want Ravages to get noticed and appreciated -and studied and critiqued – some more (outside of Chinese fandom, and preferably among Anglophone readers…); so please, help me out by committing to read and study and promote Ravages.
To kick off, begin visualizing… South Park having sharper satire, more cunning schemers whose machinations go on despite the ostensibly episodic format of the stories, broader citations not just to (American) pop culture but also to academic and classical texts of various sorts, and more nuanced positions blending with the overall silliness and crudeness. Or perhaps imagine Gintama still with the gags and the dirty jokes and medium-awareness and the parody (and the drama and the action), but augmented with more intricate conspiracies, random allusions to older Japanese texts, more profound ways of weaving mythology and folklore, more sophisticated life lessons and arguments, and more explicit commentary on the source historical period and contemporary political trends.
One can go on and on with this: (Marvel) Civil War and Secret Wars featuring even more contending parties with their vested interests and plans, as well as solid discussions on things like communism and libertarianism and posthumanism; the Shinobi World War with more pronounced factionalism and smarter stratagems, with Madara and Obito and the others having backup plans, and with intense epistemological and axiological debates with allusions to a variety of treatises; the current war in Fairy Tail having better thought-out battle plans to go along with the incredible magic, not to mention references to occult and hermetic texts; Game of Thrones with more elaborate intrigues and cleverer players and hefty literary and philosophical quotations; high fantasy series with lots of brilliant ‘gray’ schemers doing their thing amidst the greater backdrop of good versus evil, and paraphrasing some ideas of the Church Fathers and doctors and heretics; detective stories also doubling as multiple battles of manipulation accompanied by disquisitions and disputations on logic and evidence and methodology; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Should something like this actually happen with regard to many if not all forthcoming narrative works (as if!), Ravages would no longer seem that special, but its wonderful formula would end up becoming the hegemonic paradigm for all else to follow and/or internalize (unfortunately such a hypothetical scenario would also lead to the marginalization if not extinction of certain ‘less serious’ and ‘more simplified’ ways of speaking, reading, and writing). This is what is called losing the battle but winning the war, or ceding territory but gaining influence, or showing enlightenment by shunning (the desire for) an enlightened stage or guru, or whatever.
I now throw this query: wouldn’t it be nice if every story of whatever style and target audience implements to an appropriately significant extent the Ravages template as far as the four aforementioned characteristics are concerned?