Literature Review – Hugh Cook [4w5]
“It was Phyphor’s birthday. He was 5,736 years old. He saw no cause to celebrate..
It was windy; it was raining; he was wet; his boots were leaking. The sheep’s teeth set in his jaws by enchantment were aching. He was a long, long way from home. And he was advancing into danger.” [-opening lines of book “The Wizards and the Warriors”]
Excerpts of Cook’s work are available online e.g.:
His blog was here:
Hugh Cook would be actually the second 4w5 that I’m profiling (and while I have yet to profile some of the other types); however, I think he helps give some more perspective on the type as compared with Moffitt, who seems atypical in some ways (heavier 5 wing, probably, as well as being older and having more rounded development). Cook also generates some fairly interesting material.
While he had a large output, the books of Cook’s that I’m most familiar with are his “Chronicles of an Age of Darkness”, written in the 80s (“The Wizards and the Warriors” being the first of these).
This was a series of 10 books (the series was originally intended to include 20 but was discontinued halfway). Cook himself was born in England, apparently lived most of his formatory years in NZ, then later moved to Japan and taught English; during this last period he also wrote an autobiography, “Cancer Patient”, dealing with his treatment (from an etype perspective, his use of writing as an outlet to sublimate the experience could also be seen as particularly Four-ish; this book is available as an ebook. I assume ‘mus’ is mustard, if you were left wondering).
Cook’s writing style is notable for being very dark; as well there’s a noticeable cynicism about society and perhaps relationships; generally, they seem strained/distant (reflecting probable 5 influence). Occasionally he makes negative comments about ‘social conditioning’, implying he thinks of social influences as being negative (e.g.his characters are sometimes described as being conditioned toward being racist or misogynistic by societal expectations – Drake in The Walrus and the Warwolf for instance, or the short story about boxes on the linked succubus site). His fantasy novels eschew most ‘high fantasy’ tropes and involve a lot of poverty, bloodshed, and emulation of the worse parts of history.
In person he seems to have been reasonably nice, despite characters in his books being often extremely twisted; one problem with typing him is that trying to do so on the basis of a dominant ‘passion’ coming through (lust, greed, etc.) seems to find most of them, as a consequence of his especially sensationalistic and brutal style; which however reflects a desire to shock the audience/readers more than anything. So the content could be said to be ‘individualistic’ as opposed to their being any real effort to be nice/good/conformistic – the sort of things that say 9s or 6s would avoid (you might’ve thought 2s also, but some of the Twos, like Piers Anthony, do write some disturbing stuff).
Some of Cook’s work is online as noted and can provide a sort of gallery of this, for example:
*creating a Saddam Hussein Memorial Site, including a poem of praise as a model of acceptance of death); http://saddamhusseinmemorialsite.
*writing another poem about constipation
*”The Succubus” has a necrophilia scene.
*A couple of other books deal with suicide or terrorism e.g. ‘Suicide Hotel’:
[which particular short story has other ‘artistic’ themes coming through – “That’s what got me about the corpse I walked in on. It was so totally ugly, no sense of pose or poise or arrangement, just garbage. I think fewer people would kill themselves if they knew just how bad they’d look when dead.”
That story also has a particular feature of Four writing particularly, where it is focussed on the drama built up but on some level is forced or doesn’t quite “work” logically – the hole in SH being that its built around some sort of murder or something in the hotel room, but with there being no way to smuggle a victim in).
In part he’s also distinctly Four in a focus on emotional intensity – topics include suicide, poetry, despair, art. Creativity is a concern – e.g. he notes in Cancer Patient that he’d concluded “cancer has no effect on creativity” (..which seems peculiar in that he wrote a book on it, so wasn’t it a plus?…).
Characters, particularly evil/unhealthy ones, sometimes adopt pompously individualistic styles e.g. of speaking:
“My style is Garash. Have a care, lest my wrath breed toward destruction.”
Five-ness (the wing) comes through in ‘weirdness’; some degree of focus on money (fear of the lack of), some paranoia perhaps, literary capabilities; a degree of avoidance or contempt for desires [e.g. his short story “Harriet’s Armpit”] and/or occasional lapses into a pedagogical or high-sounding intellectual fashion of speech.
Interesting Works: The Wizards and the Warriors
One of the more interesting books he’d written – from some study perspectives – was ‘The Wizards and the Warriors’ – the first of his “Chronicles of an Age of Darkness” series.
As a full length novel, characters are a bit more developed and so ‘functions’ are more discernable, though it has a fairly large cast of characters which move around, making ‘functions’ (in Jungian terms) a little more arguable or difficult to work out.
*Functions: The book starts with a ‘set’ of three wizards – – Miphon, Phyphor and Garash – while a majority of the book instead is Miphon, Hearst and Blackwood.
Miphon is a healer who can empathically read the feelings of animals and is frequently bemused by moral questions, while Phyphor is the more practical of the three wizards (a problem solver); Garash is ‘fat and slovenly’, with a tendency to be greedy, unethical, a bit cannibalistic, and for a wizard a bit slow.
Of the three, Garash seems obviously an “S” sterotype, which Miphon is “F”. Phyphor is potentially harder to define, though is involved in things like exploring, as well as killing a dragon early on with lateral thinking – turning on the ‘flame trench’ – so probably N [Ne].
There is significant conflict between Garash and Phyphor (“Miphon had learned that playing peacemaker between the two singularly unrewarding”); which would be emblematic of them being the 2nd/3rd functions, which form an opposing pair and so function together only due to the dominant function being able to control them (the 1st and 2nd instead generally working in tandem).
Overall, I think it could be interpreted as a setup of Fi [Miphon] /Ne [Phyphor]/Si [Garash]. i.e. the INFP pattern. ‘Feeling’ and ‘intuition’ overall would be more developed – characters are generally pragmatic and consider utility of items or factors; there’s little use of ‘twist’ type reveals (the Ni tendency).
After later rearrangements Hearst is perhaps replacing Phyphor while Blackwood replaces Garash. Bad guys (sort of) include Prince Comedo, Elkor Alish and renegade wizard Heenmor; the latter two particularly being more ‘thinking’ types (Alish being the more sympathetic of the two perhaps).
Cook generally has a tendency in his fantasy to have a musclebound hero + some sort of advisor or wizard type character (such as Guest + Sken Pitilkin in #10 of the Chronicles series); probably reflecting his being an INFP and so having a ‘primary’ function of Fi, that’s not particularly designed to work as a barbarian hero. Sometimes the ‘Fi’ then comes through in the ‘advisor’ character; alternatively, he often wrote in the third person but in that mode, often still indulges in feeling-toned authorial commentary not connected to any character (sometimes attributed to a historical chronicler).
‘Ne’ the only extraverted function is likewise not ideal, with Cook giving his hero characters genre-appropriate drinking and lechery (more typically ‘Se’ traits) while generally painting the heroes as being dim while engaging in it (e.g. after losing a bet to climb a mountain and fight a dragon, Hearst starts drinking himself into a stupor, before Alish steps in to stop him).
Most have long term plans and ambitious, such as taking over particular kingdoms or so on. Characters fairly often talk in an obscure fashion, generating implications rather than stating facts outright – like Hearst giving a lengthy speech the gist of which is how normal his homeland is – “Rovac’s a place where the earth’s the earth and the sky’s the sky…where children are born, some nine months after their parents couple” rather than explaining directly.
Sensation has something of a ‘negative’ feel in that Cook is good at focussing on what’s offensive, disgusting, or unclean (compare Brunner / 5w4), though introverted-feeling likely contributes as well. (in chronicles #10 as an example: “Glambrax! In the absence of a mirror, describe the boy to himself!”. “My lord,” said Glambrax, accepting this assignment. “The boy looks like an over-large turd excreted by a menstruating dog, a turd which has been rolled to excess in a slime of dead cockroaches at the bottom of a giant’s spittoon.”)
‘The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster’ also has some discussion of visions [related to Ne?], with Guest and his father the Witchlord both having visions as to how their relationship ends in disaster.
(Structurally, as mostly noted in previous articles, I would expect a 4w5 to have an Si tertiary as their system is partly trying to have both Fi (4) and Ti (5), with the Ti adapted to Si to accomodate both in one ‘stack’- more data storage rather than data construction. The INFP pattern would roughly correspond to a “4-7-9” “tritype” – Fi, Ne, Si – although the wing is Five, and there’s also a slightly “One-ish” influence from the 4th function, Te.).
*Themes – morality
Another really interesting section of The Wizards and the Warriors deals with the character’s defeating a bad guy through feeling. The ranger Blackwood is largely a minor character; at one point being saved by magic (“the blood of a dragon mixed with that of a man”) to save his life, but beginning to have visions – an ’empathy’ with places and with people that lets him see their inner feelings/motivations and ‘the beauty of the vitality that graces every human life’.
Blackwood was no mystic; he had no desire to see visions…he told himself it was delusion, but in the end he had to admit that he saw something that was really there to be seen. For, he could remember a day, long ago now, when he and Mystrel had walked together in Looming Forest, in spring:
Sky, blue sky, the colour of my lovers’ eyes;
Leaf, young leaf, her hands no softer.
Blackwood had been in love that day, not only with Mystrel but with all the world.It had only been for a day, or perhaps a single morning, but in that time he had seen the flame of life that is in all things. Now he saw it from moment to moment, day after day.
Later, the heroes pick up an artifact holding the mind of an ancient, evil wizard -which is defeated when it is broken by mental contact with Blackwood, then killed by Miphon:
But for Ebonair, it was easy. Easier than taking over the Miphon body.
Almost as easy as seizing the Hearst body.
Memories now. A quick scan nothing, after all, to be gained from the mind of a peasant. Sky. Blue sky. Sky? Is that all?
Sky, blue sky, the colour of my lover’s eyes; Leaf, young leaf, her hands no softer.
The transfiguring vision. A trick, surely. A trick of perception. An illusion. Like a drug trance.
Like a mystic’s starvation delusion. Not true. Not real. No!
And Ebonair screamed: ‘No!’
Locked in the Blackwood body, Ebonair collapsed.
A poet may, on occasion, see the world transfigured by visionary perception yet still come to terms with the world. A man such as Blackwood may see the world that way constantly, day by day, and survive by isolating himself as much as possible from human society, evading the pains of the world by immersing himself in scholarship and study.
But Ebonair, viewing himself through the lens of visionary revelation, saw how his entire life had been devoted to killing, distorting, maiming or repressing the flame of life which persists in every entity; worse still he saw the damage he had done to himself.
A saint may live with such visions; an ordinary man, with some effort, may survive them. For Ebonair, they threatened madness. He had to escape. He thrust the staff of power out to touch the supine Hearst body.
The next moment, Ebonair occupied that body: but in such a panic that the body was thrown into spasm.
I offer that particular segment as ‘interesting’, without having a completely definite idea of what it means, type-specifically, just theories. Frequently this is the sort of thing that I would take as relating to the essence/holy idea of a type (i.e. inferior function), but for Four that doesn’t seem to fit exactly.
Other authors of note who have done anything similar:
*Clifford D. Simak (9w1, see case study – ISTJ) describes a scene in Ring Around the Sun where a character recalls a day in a temporarily enchanted-seeming wood, reminiscent of the forest scene there.
*Philip E. High (1w9, see case study – ESTJ) particularly often writes novels in which humanity as a race are uplifted by gaining empathy e.g. in all of Speaking of Dinosaurs; Come, Hunt an Earthman; Invader on my Back; and The Prodigal Sun.
Comparing those authors as well , it could be suggested that Cook’s work here triangulates to “One”, that is moving to high-One as the ‘integration point’ (gaining the missing aspect of One first as they journey around and toward ‘high4’ as the last integration step); that also largely matches an MBTI view where Four have dominant Fi, and One “inferior” Fi.
From an MBTI view, Four matching introverted-feeling primarily does suggest a desire to “solve” problems simply using feeling – something that’s not normally workable in the real world since usually introverted feeling has no particular constructive solutions, mainly generating objections. (‘Ne’ in combination with ‘Fi’, giving a sort of grabbing on to opportunities as they pass by, hoping they will correspond to the Fi requirements, whereas Te opposes Fi by proceeding toward objectives directly, and ruthlessly). In fantasy novels, magic is something that’s particularly useful in a Four framework since its easy to justify magical effects as feeling-powered and so avoid the problem of realism.
Quite often romantic feelings or the like might be picked for this, rather than purely abstract moral feelings; potentially the Ebonair thing could partly be due to the author’s Five detachment aspect indirectly, leading him to avoid a romantic solution that’s too sappy or corny. Introverted feeling often has no constructive advice on ‘solving’ a problem, only objections.
The weird thing here, under that interpretation, is then only that the Blackwood (who I think is the ‘sensation’ character) was picked as the bearer for the magic power; that might be a result of Miphon as a wizard, etc. already having too much plot importance.
*Themes – Despair:
The starting part of the book (e.g. where Phyphor remembers its his birthday) is a fairly good illustration of the Four ‘intuitive focus’ of “worst in the present” [Palmer] (envy).
Characters generally are not overly optimistic. “Phyphor estimated their chances of success and survival at about ten per cent”. Hearst vs. the dragon is another spot: Hearst bets with the Prince (while drunk) that he can get the ‘ruby eye of the dragon Zenphos’ (why does a dragon have a ruby eye? Oh well). While believing this is nearly impossible, he refuses to withdraw the bet – being afraid of being laughed at – and nearly drinks himself into a useless condition, believing the situation is already hopeless. Also afraid of falling, he nearly falls due to cramping himself due to fear, then wins by deus ex macchina (the wizards have already killed the dragon, using the flame trench).
*Themes – relationships
Another major subplot in the book is the relationship between Morgan Hearst/Elkor Alish; it is explained gradually that the two have an extremely close friendship but that in the past, Alish had been taken prisoner by a city ruled by a female magic-user, who had fallen in love with Alish but who was then murdered by Hearst during his rescue, who then decapitated her and carried her head around for a couple of hours for the rest of the battle. The relationships here are slightly ‘weird’ in that they two are still close associates, with Hearst only realizing much later that he would never never be forgiven for this (after likewise being loved by another).(It seems implied that the others love them, moreso than that they love the others).
(Relationships are I suppose viewed fairly remotely or cynically in a number of Cook’s books – likely 5 influence. Biographically, I’m not sure if he was married at the time he wrote the book [age 30], which could’ve influenced how he viewed relationships at the time.). Few characters manage particularly normal relationships in his earlier works, e.g. in The Wizards and the Warriors, Blackwood has a wife (who is taken prisoner to ensure his compliance) but most don’t. Later works generally depict relationships in a fairly ‘everyday’ way; characters are generally portrayed in fairly realistic relationships, rather than his stories expressing wish-fulfillment.