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  1. #1
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    Default Films/Books in which "Belief" Nurtures Characters

    I'm writing an essay on RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, which involves conceptual entities that need belief to function.

    Aside from religious fiction, what fictional precursors exist for this sort of thing?

    Tinkerbelle in PETER PAN is probably the best known character who comes alive thanks to belief, though in general the fairies of Barrie's world don't need human belief.

    In MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET Santa Claus isn't actually affected by human disbelief, but he goes out of his way to encourage belief in his existence.

    Most will remember the STAR TREK episode "Who Mourns for Adonais," in which aliens who pretended to be gods to ancient humans seemed to need human belief, and retired to some netherworld when they didn't get it.

    I know there's got to be tons of fantasy-novels in which magical gods diminish for lack of belief, but the only one I can think of right now is Charles deLint's JACK THE GIANT KILLER and its one sequel.
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    Elder Member Karl O'Neill's Avatar
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    Have you read Lord Of Light? You should.

    Last edited by Karl O'Neill; 11-28-2012 at 02:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl O'Neill View Post
    Have you read Lord Of Light? You should.
    It's been decades since I read it, but I don't recall Sam or Yama or Ravana or any of the other powerful characters in Lord of Light being dependent on belief to sustain them. Am I misremembering?

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    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    American Gods.

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    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slam_Bradley View Post
    American Gods.
    Along the same lines: Divine Misfortune.
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    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    It's been decades since I read it, but I don't recall Sam or Yama or Ravana or any of the other powerful characters in Lord of Light being dependent on belief to sustain them. Am I misremembering?
    It's been probably too long since I've read Lord of Light, but I'm with you. I don't remember power fluctuating based on belief.

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    Born under a wandrin Star Tobias March's Avatar
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    Terry Pratchett mines this lode quite thoroughly. Small Gods is the obvious example, but Hogfather also touches on it among others.

    When I saw the thread title I immediately thought of A Canticle for Leibowitz, as there's obviously *something* mystical at work - the wandering Jew for example - but faith provides absolutely no protection. Quite the opposite, it delivers certain characters to a very nasty end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias March View Post
    Terry Pratchett mines this lode quite thoroughly. Small Gods is the obvious example, but Hogfather also touches on it among others.
    Damn you, beat me to it!

    I would say Pratchett is the go-to guy for this concept. Small Gods, Hogfather, Pyramids and to some degree many of the other 30 Discworld novels make mention of the importance of belief in shaping and powering the existence of anything supernatural. Small Gods and Hogfather both hinge directly on this very point.
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    Mattress Tester T Hedge Coke's Avatar
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    Some of the funnier (and scarier) bits of Ellison's Invisible Man are when the protagonist is basically elevating himself to camp supervillain because people are ignoring him or don't believe in him, as a person, or in his essential nature.

    Since this says "films," too:

    Any Freddy Krueger movie posits that belief in Freddy (or the dream demon that looks like Freddy, in that one) and his power is what gives him his actual power.

    In Adolescence Apocalypse, the Prince/God/Lord of the Flies, Akio is clearly dependent on people paying attention to him, lamenting or fearing him, because... ultimately... he may just not exist. (It may just be his sister that needs others to believe in him, since again, he may not exist.)

    Kaare Andrews Altitude involves belief-required existences, too. Saying more would be spoilers (that you'll guess in twenty minutes of watching anyway).

    Making an argument for many creatures in Labyrinth via this would be easy enough, but so would making the opposing argument. (How dare it be nebulous!)

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    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    If you're willing to consider comics as well, the recent run of Guardians Of The Galaxy had a new version of the church of the Magus that was entirely powered on belief.

    In a different vein, I would use Harvey, the six foot tall invisible rabbit, as an exemple of an entity that exists only through the belief of one man. Of course, Harvey didn't actually do much... As I recall, he only closed a door.
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    Elder Member Karl O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    It's been decades since I read it, but I don't recall Sam or Yama or Ravana or any of the other powerful characters in Lord of Light being dependent on belief to sustain them. Am I misremembering?
    I remember the fake gods ruled because people were willing to believe their lies.
    "You can't trust them as poets either. The true poet is anonymous, as to his habits, but these boys have to look, act, and apparently smell like poets"
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    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl O'Neill View Post
    I remember the fake gods ruled because people were willing to believe their lies.
    The First set up the caste system using the power that gave them their attributes and allowed them to take on their aspects. But it was simply a political system. Their power as a political entity waned because of Sam's appearance as the Buddah. But their actual physical power and their aspects didn't change.

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    Elder Member Karl O'Neill's Avatar
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    That's it. I should re-read Lord Of Light.
    "You can't trust them as poets either. The true poet is anonymous, as to his habits, but these boys have to look, act, and apparently smell like poets"
    Flannery O'Connor on the beats.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slam_Bradley View Post
    The First set up the caste system using the power that gave them their attributes and allowed them to take on their aspects. But it was simply a political system. Their power as a political entity waned because of Sam's appearance as the Buddah. But their actual physical power and their aspects didn't change.
    That's how I recall it as well, but I think Karl brings up an interesting point: all these stories that do have their gods' power depend on human belief are really treating their own god-characters not as gods, but as politicians, or aristocrats: their special status (perhaps their very existence) disappears as soon as their believers stop believing, just as the nobility are no longer the nobility as soon as people stop treating them and thinking of them as such.

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