I, presumably like manyof your students upon entering your course, didn’t know that folklore extendedbeyond the old tales that create many of our superstitions and tales ofmorality.
I was rather familiar with “lore” because I’m a fan of the entire fantasygenre, particularly in novels, and being a fan led me to actually creatingseveral fantasy works where I had to create lore for this entirely new world.But when it was combined with “folk”, instead of becoming a category, it simplybecame synonymous with old tales that people reference to make their writing,or themselves, seem more mature. Like almost every other middle-class American family,followed certain traditions while growing up. Most prominently, on Christmaseve we’d tell the biblical story of Jesus and how he was a miracle.
It wasinteresting to hear that these counted as a type of folklore, although I mustdisagree on thinking about it further. On Christmas eve we read off the samepages my mother printed off before I was even born, look at the same pictures,and read from the same bible that my parent’s religion has used since 1979. Thestories don’t change and neither do my family’s collective approach to them,which, to my understanding, McNeill says isn’t actually folklore even though itis a tradition. Yes, it may have been a conglomeration of pagan traditionstwisted to make Jesus the center of it, and different areas developed differenttraditions for it, like how much of Europe has the anti-Santa. So, does thatmake Christmas traditions a form of folklore even though my own familytraditions are stagnant and don’t contain enough variety from year to year tobe so? Well, that got confusing rather fast.
There is one interaction with folklore that really stickswith me, partially because I didn’t know what to call it until now. I played agame called Okami quite a bit in highschool. While the game itself isn’t really a form of folklore because it’sstagnant, I was really interested to know what stories went into the game.
Thisinitially started when I was on a trip to San Francisco last February and wastold, in a tour of the Japanese Tea Garden, that archways indicated you wereentering someplace new, special, in Japanese architecture. Okami places archways on the entrances and exits to plot-worthytowns, but also certain archways reveal a magic path only when you walk under them. When I made that specificconnection, I looked up different traditional Japanese stories, treating intheir culture like we treat many of the Grimm Brother Tales. I found that theplayable character, Amaterasu, is actually the main goddess of Japan,representative of the sun—which makes sense why the power you have from thevery beginning of the game is to create a sunrise. Your Poncle companion isbased off the story of the inch high boy.
Every enemy you face is the monsterassociated with a Japanese superstition; for example, my least favorite enemyis the Dead Fish, which follows the old legend that if a woman commits suicideby throwing herself into the sea, she will come back as one of these monsters.So, while the actually story that Okamitells the players isn’t folklore because it’s more of a record of folklore, thegame itself, to my understanding, is a form of folklore because it adapted theold, traditional tales into something new. To be honest, I’m not actually sure I’m right about anyof this. But that’s why I’m taking the class, isn’t it? To have a betterunderstanding of things I didn’t know before.