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Topic: Is there a word for...

From: Kelly Marsh
Location: Everett, Wa
Date: 12/13/2009

Okay, to anthropomorphise means to ascribe human form or traits to animals or objects.

Is there a similar term that means to ascribe modern values to an historic culture, or to judge them by modern mores?

Perhaps more in keeping with the literary thrust of this site, an example might be the sword-wielding Viking hero in an historic (sort of) novel, who essentially hacks people to bits for a living, but for all of that is apparently also a sensitive, modern man who is good to his mum, respectful to women in general, and who manages to prevail despite decidedly un-Viking-like sentiments, like when he decides pit three people against an army to rescue good old Olaf.

In other words, we paint the guy not as he would be, but as, with our modern sensibilities, the way we think he SHOULD be. If he wasn't sensitive, and altruistic to the point of stupidity, he wouldn't be a hero, then, would he? I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing in fiction, but I am looking for a word that describes it.

If there isn't a word, I certainly think there should be, but I haven't been able to find it. :)

Re: Is there a word for...

From: Greg Bear
Date: 12/17/2009

Hm... good challenge! Reverse atavism, maybe? The best historical novels give us characters in their milieu who at least bear a semblance of timely realism. One of the traits/problems attributed to my own fantasies has been the "alien" nature of my elves and such, an approach I learned from Poul Anderson, who tended to keep both his science fiction and fantasy beings and creatures honest to their own lights.

Re: Is there a word for...

From: Kelly Marsh
Location: Everett, Wa
Date: 12/19/2009

Okay, Greg, you've told me why yours, and Poul's characters don't fit my premise, but I already knew they did not.

"Reverse atavism" may be good, but I am looking for one word, and while it may not be currently fashionable, I'm pretty sure it must exist.

The English language, after all, is a giant melting pot. Certainly someone, somewhere or somewhen must have come up with a word to describe this?

Kelly

Re: Is there a word for...

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/01/2010

How about countercleistic? Antichronic? Hypoanachronistic might work.

Movie Indians from the 30's to present

From: Patrick O'Loughlin
Location: Santa Barbara
Date: 01/01/2010

My roommate got a fancy gold box of cookies from his girlfriend for Christmas. In it, amongst all the packaging, were 8 cookies. At first I thought this represented the horrible truth about women: that they are more concerned with the package than with it's contents, but then I realized that it was really about the consumer industry trying to get women to THINK they should be more concerned about the package so they would buy THEIR fancy package! There are many instances where we see something because that's what we believe it is, and if enough people believe the same thing then it becomes reality.

Movie Indians from the 30's to present

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/01/2010

Or... men shouldn't be encouraged to binge on cookies! (But they love us anyway.)

Fancy words. :)

From: Kelly Marsh
Location: Everett, Wa
Date: 01/02/2010

Greg,

Hmmm. You wanted me to spend my morning researching these, didn't you?
Well, it didn't take all morning, but it did take me several minutes.

I first, of course,looked these up on the internet, with no luck, even after I resorted to a general Google search.

I finally dragged out my 1952 Webster's Unabridged, which is quite literally a five inch thick tome filled with fine print, and managed to find "antichronism" which is defined as "deviation from the true course of time." I suppose this would work to answer my original question as well as any, but I must confess I can't, aside from time travel novels or quantum physics, think of any situation in which this word would fit exactly, at least as defined.

As to the other two, I can only speculate:

Countercleistic: As cleist, or cleisto seems to relate to things that are closed, as in flower petals, and cleistophobia is the intense fear of enclosed spaces, and so on, would this mean "Against closing; open?" Apparently not, as you listed it here, but that was what I was able to turn up.

Hypoanachronistic: Hypo means below, so literally "Below anachronism." Not quite anachronistic?

I would really appreciate a breakdown of the latter two, as you are using them, if you have time.

Fancy words. :)

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/06/2010

Cleo is the muse of history. I didn't know about cleisto! Very cool. How about cleonasm?

Antiananchronism seems to pile it on...

Re: Is there a word for...

From: Alex
Location: st neots
Date: 09/01/2010

"Is there a similar term that means to ascribe modern values to an historic culture, or to judge them by modern mores?"

Just by thinking about a historic context youre automatically looking at it from a modern perspective. So its a given I guess. Historians and archeologists specialise in trying to avoid this, in the same way anthropologists do it with modern cultures that are different or more technologically primitive.

I guess the ultimate insertion of modern ideas into a historic culture could be called Flinstonation.

Re: Is there a word for...

From: Greg Bear
Date: 09/14/2010

Definitely Looking Backwards!

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