“Daimonic” as a Literary Term

This is interesting, I didn’t know this. From the Wikipedia entry for “Daimonic” : “As a literary term, it can also mean the unrest that exists in us all that forces us into the unknown, leading to self-destruction and/or self-discovery.”

Reminds me of, to use a modern-day hero saga example, when Luke Skywalker had to enter that tree on Dagobah and encounter himself/the dark side in himself, and his unrest in the original Stars Wars trilogy that makes him impatient and cut his Jedi training short, leaving him vulnerable to the dark side, etc…

“The journey from innocence to experience is not an idea that originated with this term; rather the Hero’s Journey is a topic older than literature itself. But the “daimonic” subsequently became a focus of the English Romantic movement in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the diagram below, we see the common threads of the daimonic notion. Typically, the daimonic tale centers around the Solitary, the central character of the story, who usually is introduced in innocence, wealth, and often arrogance. But under the masks of control and order lies a corruption and unconscious desire towards disintegration. Some event, either external or internal, leads the character towards some type of isolation where he is forced to confront his daimons.

The fall, or the descent, (from hubris) into the liminal world where light and dark meet is usually very dramatic and often torturing for the hero and the audience alike, and comes in myriad forms. In the depths, in hitting bottom, he ultimately discovers his own fate and tragedy (catharsis), and in a final climax is either broken or driven towards rebirth and self-knowledge. The glory of the daimonic is in the humble resurrection, though it claims more than it sets free, as many a foolish men are drawn into its vacuum never to return. As Stefan Zweig writes, the hero is unique for “he becomes the daimon’s master instead of the daimon’s thrall”.

The daimonic has always been, and continues to be, a great source of creativity, inspiration, and fascination in all forms of art.”


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