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[personal profile] porphyry
 I learned the other day that there is a documentary about the use of Myth in The Natural as an extra of the DVD.

I'm watching it now. It consists of interviews with the various producers and writers of the film (not Levinson the director), sports writers and Malamud's daughter. They seem all convinced that the story is based on Arthurian legend. The daughter in particular compares the story to Perceval (which coincidentally I'm writing an article about now), and the hero's healing of the Kingfisher (I presume the cahracter from Amos and Andy, but I was laughing to ahrd to be sure). I checked the scholarly literature when the film came out, and there was no other interpretation offered at that time of the meaning of the story.

I suppose I ought to check again, and write this up. But the source of myth in Malamud's story is quite different. It comes from the Kabbalah.

In every generation the Messiah is reincarnated, along with the 36 zaddakim (holy ones). They do good works (tikkun) helping to restore the balance between mercy and jdugment that was upset at the fall. but they will always ultimately fail unto the final generation and the beginning of the messianic age at the end of history. the idea of telling this story through baseball may derive from the similarity of the baseball diamond and the diagrammatic position of the players on the field, to the usual graphic depiction of the sephiroth (the stages of the unfolding of the diivne light in creation). The idea of telling the story allegorical no doubt derives form the kabbalistic practice of reading the Biblical text allegorically


(in order to find this image to repost here, I had to search for "Sephiroth kabbalah", just sephiroth turned up hundreds of images of some homoerotic video games--how bizzare).

Roy Hobbs is the unrevealed Messiah (roy+king, hobb+spirit, so it translates the same Hebrew as Lord of Hosts). He works to free the shekinah (divine wisdom which takes the form of a rainbow), from her exile in the material world; this is Iris (Greek for rainbow). The other woman (Memo and the one who shot Young Roy, who are one and the same), is her sinister opposite from the world of judgment. Judgment is the divine wrath, which works to prevent the restoration of the fallen sparks of divine light. This is the Judge. Mercy (i.e. Max Mercy) is subservient to judgment until the end.. The book maker is the devil--this is why he can do cheap magic tricks, although Hobbs has the power to transcend them. The thunderbolt amulet on Wonderboy and then worn by all the Knights' players refers to the common practice of amuletic magic in Hasidic communities. But Roy ultimately fails because he is doomed to fail until the end. In the film, Levinson reversed this, showing the completion of the cycle.and, in the coda, the Messianic age. There are many other points, but you get the idea.

I always thought Levinson understood this, because he added all the spark symbolism, and in the Kabbalah the fall is described and the fragments of the material vessels that were too weak to wold the divine light which broke and sent the light scattering down into the world, resulting the physical creation and the need for redemption. But ti seems not, or at least he told no one else on the film about it.

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