A label for impossible fuels courtesy of TV Tropes. Never mind the site's name is itself a misnomer. The site's creators and editors use only one part of the rhetorical figure's definition: recurs. The implication is the "tropes" are outworn, too, if not cliché to the point of absurd. They miss entirely that a trope alludes to a figurative meaning for an actual discrete circumstance, like an allegory, a simile, a paradox, synecdoche, metonymy, oxymoron, etc., which are trope types, as opposed to rhetorical schemes, which are unconventional language uses that possess meaning depths and designs other than per se literal meanings. Irony is most of all the design of rhetoric, in all its glories, which says other and more than the words do on their surfaces, most so about morals.
"Hollywood Gasoline" is most noted for being as explosive as the most powerful high explosives: nitroglycerin, TNT, etc., and as flammable as hydrogen gas, when it is neither that explosive nor that flammable. Gasoline explosions' sole "Hollywood" purpose is to create spectacle appeals, though unnatural, and to enhance plot points' visual attractions. The latter are, of course, melodramatic to a great degree and weak therefore. Yet visual-aural spectacles appeal to the masses. Supposedly, the point is the human capacity for attraction to disasters, therefore, matters of survival instincts development and implementation.
The more subtle and insidious "Hollywood Gasoline trope" is post some societal collapse and gasoline still usable years later. Gasoline destabilizes withing months to a year, spoils, that is, and no longer works in combustion engines, clogs needle valve injectors, gels and loses its fluidity, breaks down and loses its flammability. Anyone who sporadically uses gas-powered engines knows the pratfalls of spoiled gasoline: weekend landscapers, seasonal lumberjacks, motor boaters, etc., wherever users use gasoline stored for several months. The largest difficulty comes from lawnmower engines, fuel left in the tank over fall, winter, and spring and useless the next summertime. The nextmost common difficulty is boat engines, which collect condensate in fuel tanks if not carefully managed. Weedwhackers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, wood chippers, and generators.
Pick a tool, or vehicle, leave it set several months, walk right to it and start it up as though the fuel and the engine are in peak condition. Right. Really!? Nope. This overall leads society into an erroneous complacence. Okay. That serves manufacturers' agendas. Bad gas, clogged and gelled fuel lines and filters, even shellacked or varnished liners throughout the fuel system from evaporated gasoline leaves a "plastic" coat on the parts, compels new purchases.
All is not lost, though, for creative writers, rather, opportunity afforded for realistic gasoline properties to cause complication and therefrom instruct readers. The Edges of Ideas principle from "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction" by David Smith of Clarion workshops, offers guidance for cliché trope avoidance.
"The places where technology and background should come onstage: not the mechanics of a new event, gizmo, or political structure, but rather how people’s lives are affected by their new background. Example of excellence: the opening chapters of Orwell’s 1984. (Lewis Shiner)"
So not a detailed discourse about spoiled gasoline and how to avoid it or fix the problems of its spoilage, rather only the edges of those technical details, meantime, how spoiled gasoline affects people's lives -- past, present, or future. The affects on people are the salient "telling" details, not gasoline and its properties themselves. Similarly, if not exactly the same, all background influences, like backstory, etc., matter only insofar as they affect people's lives in the immediate now of a narrative.
The challenge is what's background and what's foreground? The foreground is what a narrative is really and truly about: a discrete factor of the human condition posed through a story's overt, tangible action complication. Nor is the covert, intangible real and true action itself the background; it is the subtext of substance, a moral complication tableau posed through the overt, tangible action's progress. Want fresh fuel? Problem, fuel refineries failed some time ago. Real want, need to be elsewhere, fast, for some reason. Real problem, modern technology gone. An individual and technology theme; technology's decline is the Edges of an Idea feature. The real and true action, some workaround that timely satisfies the tangible want-problem complication and satisfies the intangible complication that comes to an accommodation with spoiled technology.
Posts: 5436 | Registered: Jun 2008
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Gas will break down if you don't use it up fast enough...anybody who mows their own lawn will find that out.
I have a certain fascination with Hollywood tropes. One that interests me is the way the character on screen finds the perfect parking space right in front of where he's going, rather than miles away on a side street or parking lot like the rest of us schlubs.
(Also, far as the Hollywood explosions go...did you know Hollywood is the second biggest polluter in California, right below the smelters?)
Posts: 8747 | Registered: Aug 2005
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"Hollywood Gasoline" and the whole "TV Trope" encyclopedia entries reflect a widespread culture belief system of erroneous or exaggerated, embellished anyway, beliefs. Some are advocated for by culture media and suit melodrama needs, some are received by culture media and unexamined, some oscillate from one culture group to another to media and every-which-a-way between points.
Part of the curious nature of "tv tropes" is what these express about the human social condition, for composition purposes at least. Shared beliefs are a strong centripetal social force -- tend to foster in-group identity enhancement. Off kilter though more than a few may be, the oddity or outright dubious distinctions are less relevant than that they are shared in both denotations of disseminated and cooperatively believed.
Some of the subtler though more sublime and profound features of appealing narratives involve dubious or questionable beliefs. They are subjective and appeal through that feature; human nature interprets circumstances which do not pass muster. An objectively-declared though subjective belief raises questions, which then want satisfaction. The irony of a belief is that it is held true for its holders yet nonholders at least question its validity. The net, after all, then is up to any given receiver to accept the circumstance on its face, evaluate it for validity, give it some validity and some invalidity weight, allow that the circumstance may be a personal or group truth not subject to outsider belief, or reject it altogether.
A recent essay about the fabuleme: fabulous meme, of fantastical narratives notes that reader willing belief and willing suspension of disbelief are best practice kept in tension through doubt of a circumstance's validity. The essay also notes why, noteworthy for a change, that fantastical features appeal, due to a human condition of wanting to be part of something larger and more mysterious and mystical than the self. So social being behavior and spiritual being behavior -- sharing and sharing in what it means to be human. Receivers want to believe for social-spiritual sharing's sake as much as disbelieve for survival's sake.
The essay also, remarkably, suggests how to proportion belief and disbelief. How? The arts of folk tales, fables, and fiction overall, distinct from creative nonfiction, use tangible, concrete, material circumstances for metaphoric representations of intangible, abstract, immaterial forces and phenomena. The "Edges of Ideas," per Smith's Clarion workshops Glossary, advises that the tangible circumstance is less persuasive of belief and disbelief than the circumstance's influences of people and their lives. That latter influence, therefore, is the substantive matter, not whether the sky falls, Henny Penny, whether the sky fall influences people and their lives.
So yeah, "Hollywood Gasoline" influences people and their lives, for good and ill, and some not influenced one dotted iota. A writer's chore then is to show how and why and to what means and ends misunderstandings about gasoline influence people and their lives. Gasoline is dangerous, no doubt; is a little artistic license and exaggeration then not indicated? Likewise, is a little factual, or valid anyway, detail also indicated? Ah! Belief and disbelief in tension. At some point, though, all must become clear. This is life's purpose.