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  1. #51
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    If you don't like Rowling, that's fine; and (I'm betting that) as a card-carrying INFP, you read and loved The Phantom Tollbooth...which exemplifies the characteristics of the fantasy genre which you listed, viz.

    (fantastical elements, but lacking in real symbolism and developed themes, so that it's just action & plot in a whimsical setting)
    The Phantom Tollbooth was a childhood favorite, as I believe I've told you before. However, I disagree that it lacks in symbolism or developed themes. Don't get me wrong - I don't expect children's books to be as complex as adult literary fiction either, but for a child's level, it's not just a whimsical story. It simply doesn't follow the script for fantasy themes. Funny that Voltaire is mentioned in that quote...because The Phantom Tollbooth has a similar style to Voltaire's Candide, IMO. Voltaire writes a frantic series of weird stuff happening (although I'd never call it fantasy), but there definitely is theme and symbolism at every point. It's not just quirky plot and characters for their own sake nor the hackneyed good vs evil theme (which so often is just a pale shadow of Biblical concepts). I find the wit of both pretty rare for the fantasy genre, but I don't think the presence of it means the points made are any less "serious". Lewis Carroll is another example of this, and more appealing to me than most fantasy also. I see your hero Tolkien seems to dislike satirical elements in "fairy stories" as well as use of dreams to explain the fantasy elements. But I actually like these elements, because they add depth to the story for me.

    The Phantom Tollbooth has a little bit of the overdone fantasy element of "good vs evil" where some evil power is conquered at the end by some regular, simple person (dividing stuff into blanket good and evil sides is very annoying to me), but like Voltaire it's kind of satirizing the whole thing. The Phantom Tollbooth is iconoclastic on a kid's level. Most fantasy is actually seeking to reinforce these symbols, rather than challenge them. I know the flippant style of NP types doesn't always sit well with IxxJs (and it's clear Voltaire and Norton Juster are Ne-dom), but it's not just a series of witticisms. It IS painting a bigger picture, but they don't bother to connect the dots for people because the obviousness of that is very dull to an NP. Most fantasy genre hits you over the head with a sledgehammer regarding its theme and any symbolism it contains. These move so quickly from one silly situation to the next that you can easily miss the point each is making.

    The Phantom Tollbooth's real themes are about forming gratitude for the world around you and finding personal motivation and inspiration, as well as understanding what is true wisdom vs mere convention, which involves becoming aware of how arbitrary the world can be structured. This is almost opposite of most fantasy, which wants you to believe everything has some meaning, and that there is some fate you are woven into, that you are destined for a course, as opposed to you being a creative force and using your perceptive powers to discern principles, not needing to follow some spelled-out code or being confined to a particular path.

    The character in PT is getting a sense of control over his perspective (and as a result, his reality) in every thing he encounters (not stuck in the doldrums - as a state of mind), and he learns he can find reality interesting because of his own creative ability. He sees there are many ways he can interpret everything and that things were only dull because he chose to be dull. He learns to remove assumptions.

    At the outset, the lead character has no gratitude and difficulty finding anything to muster energy or enthusiasm for. It struck me as different from most fantasy because it doesn't have the hero themes at all nor is it about powers of good and bad, but it's about creative power and forming powers of discernment. Rhyme and Reason reign at the end - which gives the ability to give meaning to things, not simply joining some black and white side of good or evil. Everything is just a bunch of arbitrary facts without it, which is why the Kingdom of Wisdom is very silly until those two reign again. The main character feels and witnesses extremes of "rhyme" and "reason" throughout the novel, which also emphasizes the balance needed for both. What this book also does, similar to Voltaire but on a children's level, is make fun of the norms people take for granted, to reveal how absurd so much of it is. It's so anti-Si, it's hilarious to me. It's mocking conventional ideas of wisdom, morality, etc. In being "random", it's illustrating how very arbitrary human "order" and rules really are, that they've actually eschewed rhyme and reason.

    The fantasy genre otherwise strikes me as an e9 genre - escape from reality in the fantasy of the humble, regular person conquering some big bad force by being diplomatic and humble in working with others, but then developing backbone when needed. The theme is right on the surface and there is not much thought needed to suss it out. Everything I know about Harry Potter fits this.

    Straddling the line, between Phantom Tollbooth and more *serious* work, we have Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, The Artemis Fowl books (magic intermingled with technology), and oddly enough, Toy Story.

    All of these books combine the action and plot in a whimsical setting, or at least 'extranatural' if not supernatural...but also include themes such as sacrifice, redemption, moral quandries, perseverance, and good fellowship.

    Science fiction, itself, can shade from whiz-bang entertainment stretched over a thin framework of barely-defined philosophy (Star Wars), to rich worlds such as Dune, or James-Bond in space encompassing large-scale sociological commentary such as Dominic Flandry...on to Tolkien or soft-porn such as Gor.
    It seems that the more the plot involves fantastical elements, as you said, or quasi-supernatural, the more it deserves the label Fantasy: except when one gets to work such as Gor, (or related works such as Conan The Barbarian or Tarzan) which is an entirely different kind of, ahem, "fantasy" altogether...
    I liked fairytales as a child, but most are more like fables to me than a full blown fantasy epic. I do admire the work of creating a "whole world", but I don't think that in itself is captivating enough for me to really enjoy the genre.

    The Narnia series has obvious symbolism, but I only liked them for the story. They didn't impact me because the themes felt obvious (very Biblical) and I had no perspective shift from it. I don't include them with my general criticism of fantasy though because I liked them and they are not favorites for reasons unrelated to my criticisms. As with most novels, I skim over very long passages describing action, especially warfare, and there is often too much of that in the fantasy genre for my taste.

    I never liked Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, sorry - I know you're a huge fan. I think these books are more social in nature - they read almost politically to me (and I prefer something like Orwell for that). There's this personal quality lacking...perhaps they are not "psychological" enough. Most books I like have very little plot and deal with no supernatural or even extraordinary events (I believe you thought at first that Proust was writing about the lives of the social elite, which is not at all what Proust really wrote about & is a mere backdrop, but you later on saw that), but they are heavy on the exploration of the psychology of the characters & deeply rooted social dynamics, and in the end, they say a lot more to me about human nature and reality. I don't get a deep sense about human motivations in fantasy genre - they seem to espouse moral lessons and vague, general themes about human virtues and vices. Of course, there are varying degrees of talent in any genre, but generally I find fantasy to attract writers who are not as good as those in other genres and don't develop their themes (if any) so deeply. Harry Potter is prototypical for me, then, not any outstanding exception.

    Anyhow, my point about this and intuition is that people sometimes think a taste for the fantasy genre is indicative of intuition, becomes sensors must scorn anything not "realistic", but I don't witness any strong correlation there. The genre itself doesn't have a stronger tendency to expose what's behind the concrete layer of reality anymore than other genres (and arguably, some fantasy novels can do so even LESS), even if it has supernatural elements.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe
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  2. #52
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AphroditeGoneAwry View Post
    I agree with what you are saying, sure.

    But what I was referring to was as I said: anger. Not mere agitation. Anger would be a strong emotion, and strong emotions, being Fi,
    Say it with me - "feeling is not emotion", "feeling is not emotion", "feeling is not emotion", etc

    strong emotions...would be something that an INFJ would need to process a while before letting out, or letting others view it; the Ni is the gatekeeper and since Fi isn't very natural for an INFJ, and Ni can be time-consuming, it can take a while. Therefore, if an INFJ lets others see their anger it is either because they are allowing the others in after time has elapsed and this is a calculated 'allowing others to see their anger' (or maybe it is a recurrent source of anger and the infj is 'used' to it), or it is that the infj trusts the listener as a close friend, and is allowing the other to be privy to the inner workings of them as they process their feelings, Fi. I usually only have a couple people at any given time in my life who I will call to 'vent' to. Venting for me is really a process of working the Fi through the Ni.?
    This is typical of many people. Lots of people don't vent willy nilly. Lots of people only express emotion in a calculated manner or in a context of deep trust (or anonymously on the internet - hahaha).

    Feeling may use emotion, and Fe IS more utilitarian about it. It definitely wields emotion more like a tool, with the purpose to shape the shared reality. Fi expresses for its own sake (when it does, and often indirectly) because the purpose is understanding some "truth". The purpose is not to understand or validate the individual's emotions, as if to seek sympathy, but to demonstrate the reason something has a certain value (aka "meaning") in the human experience, especially the internal experience. If a Fi type gets annoyed at being misunderstood - it's not personal, but it's a frustration in the other's inability to grasp that it's a matter of the human condition itself. When it just concerns the individual, then the Fi type is more likely to stay quiet, not to make a point. This is why it's almost always best done indirectly through some creative means, so as to inspire the same experience in someone, so that it registers as true for them. When directly communicated, the misunderstanding tends to arise.

    IMO, Fe types like making points using emotion because they seek to influence more, having a more practical use of feeling as a way to regulate human interactions. They have the shared experience to call upon to back them up, and the common "language" they've had a part in shaping helps them to be understood readily and to find that language adequate.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe
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  3. #53
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    Stong pyroclastic flow deleted for brevity's sake. (Think of the CHILDREN!) /humorous sarc>
    Imma take this offline to avoid thread hijack. But a trip to starbucks first.
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

    Please comment on my johari / nohari pages.

  4. #54
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    Imma take this offline to avoid thread hijack. But a trip to starbucks first.
    Preference that you keep it in thread, please.

    To me, it's no surprise JKR types as an INFJ; in fact, it's almost a relief to see her self-typing rather than the espoused typing of INFP you see floating about on the interwebs. Her themes always carried too much dichotomy to feel like they originated from an NFP for me, lacking subtlety and very little reflection on the core, interwoven threads connecting human experiences. (Actually, despite my thematic misgivings, seeing her listed as INFP was at least a motivator that an INFP could actually manage to write umpteen books and get some shit done. So, back to the drawing board on that one lol!)

    @OrangeAppled:
    Anyhow, my point about this and intuition is that people sometimes think a taste for the fantasy genre is indicative of intuition, becomes sensors must scorn anything not "realistic", but I don't witness any strong correlation there. The genre itself doesn't have a stronger tendency to expose what's behind the concrete layer of reality anymore than other genres (and arguably, some fantasy novels can do so even LESS), even if it has supernatural elements.
    I agree with this, very much so. The fantasy genre feels like the created world itself is more of the focus and the exploration of that world holds little appeal to me, unless highly consistent and imbued with a high degree of character depth. imo, fantasy generally yields little fruit on exploring the core themes of humanity and I find it generally simplistic, too literal and high in the use broad archetypes.

    Science fiction strangely does a much better job in general at exploring the human condition.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
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  5. #55
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    If a Fi type gets annoyed at being misunderstood - it's not personal, but it's a frustration in the other's inability to grasp that it's a matter of the human condition itself. When it just concerns the individual, then the Fi type is more likely to stay quiet, not to make a point. This is why it's almost always best done indirectly through some creative means, so as to inspire the same experience in someone, so that it registers as true for them. When directly communicated, the misunderstanding tends to arise.
    And that. Well said.

    The fantasy genre otherwise strikes me as an e9 genre - escape from reality in the fantasy of the humble, regular person conquering some big bad force by being diplomatic and humble in working with others, but then developing backbone when needed. The theme is right on the surface and there is not much thought needed to suss it out. Everything I know about Harry Potter fits this.
    I agree with this too. But even though these are 9'ish themes, they don't appeal to me either, since again they generally don't transform the main character, only increase some sort of confidence factor without any rationale or sense of internal justification. Simpy being under adversity and finding "confidence" is not a transformation, it is a rising to the surface, but without transformation, quite likely to sink right back down again.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
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  6. #56
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    The Phantom Tollbooth was a childhood favorite, as I believe I've told you before. However, I disagree that it lacks in symbolism or developed themes. Don't get me wrong - I don't expect children's books to be as complex as adult literary fiction either, but for a child's level, it's not just a whimsical story. It simply doesn't follow the script for fantasy themes. Funny that Voltaire is mentioned in that quote...because The Phantom Tollbooth has a similar style to Voltaire's Candide, IMO. Voltaire writes a frantic series of weird stuff happening (although I'd never call it fantasy), but there definitely is theme and symbolism at every point. It's not just quirky plot and characters for their own sake nor the hackneyed good vs evil theme (which so often is just a pale shadow of Biblical concepts). I find the wit of both pretty rare for the fantasy genre, but I don't think the presence of it means the points made are any less "serious". Lewis Carroll is another example of this, and more appealing to me than most fantasy also. I see your hero Tolkien seems to dislike satirical elements in "fairy stories" as well as use of dreams to explain the fantasy elements. But I actually like these elements, because they add depth to the story for me.
    I only read parts of Candide; but I detect a very similar flavor and style to what you mention in Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais: but from what you say, Rabelais is definitely more deliberately fantastical; and, yes, Voltaire was umm,...opinionated.
    Lewis Carroll's wit for was exemplified in the poem You Are Old, Father William, although Walrus and the Carpenter and Jabberwocky come close; the sheer phantasmagoric-yet-ordered quality in the story was to me a type of literary foreshadowing of the
    . And I was unable to detect any social commentary in Lewis Carroll's Alice.

    Did I detect a note of sarcasm in saying "your hero, Tolkien" ? I admire him for his verbal craftsmanship; the fact that the entire *world* he created had distinct species/races of creatures, each with their own history against a common historical backdrop; and the fact that he invented complete languages together with their own syntax/grammar/punctuation (he was a philologist by trade; *I* believe it shows compared to the names/places in most fantasy/sci-fi). [1]
    ...on re-reading, I see you mentioned this below already. (T'sk t'sk at myself.)


    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    The Phantom Tollbooth has a little bit of the overdone fantasy element of "good vs evil" where some evil power is conquered at the end by some regular, simple person (dividing stuff into blanket good and evil sides is very annoying to me), but like Voltaire it's kind of satirizing the whole thing. The Phantom Tollbooth is iconoclastic on a kid's level. Most fantasy is actually seeking to reinforce these symbols, rather than challenge them. I know the flippant style of NP types doesn't always sit well with IxxJs (and it's clear Voltaire and Norton Juster are Ne-dom), but it's not just a series of witticisms. It IS painting a bigger picture, but they don't bother to connect the dots for people because the obviousness of that is very dull to an NP. Most fantasy genre hits you over the head with a sledgehammer regarding its theme and any symbolism it contains. These move so quickly from one silly situation to the next that you can easily miss the point each is making.
    Indeed, this is true: and it agrees with my experience in reading Tollbooth. I wasn't looking for themes, but instead loved the individuals: Tock, and laughing at the Mathemagician's Division Dumplings, and developing a schoolboy crush on the Princesses. I didn't notice the symbols until you pointed them out in this post (bows). But that to my mind, makes it all the better, because I resent "the purposed domination of the author".

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    The Phantom Tollbooth's real themes are about forming gratitude for the world around you and finding personal motivation and inspiration, as well as understanding what is true wisdom vs mere convention, which involves becoming aware of how arbitrary the world can be structured. This is almost opposite of most fantasy, which wants you to believe everything has some meaning, and that there is some fate you are woven into, that you are destined for a course, as opposed to you being a creative force and using your perceptive powers to discern principles, not needing to follow some spelled-out code or being confined to a particular path.

    The character in PT is getting a sense of control over his perspective (and as a result, his reality) in every thing he encounters (not stuck in the doldrums - as a state of mind), and he learns he can find reality interesting because of his own creative ability. He sees there are many ways he can interpret everything and that things were only dull because he chose to be dull. He learns to remove assumptions.

    At the outset, the lead character has no gratitude and difficulty finding anything to muster energy or enthusiasm for. It struck me as different from most fantasy because it doesn't have the hero themes at all nor is it about powers of good and bad, but it's about creative power and forming powers of discernment. Rhyme and Reason reign at the end - which gives the ability to give meaning to things, not simply joining some black and white side of good or evil. Everything is just a bunch of arbitrary facts without it, which is why the Kingdom of Wisdom is very silly until those two reign again. The main character feels and witnesses extremes of "rhyme" and "reason" throughout the novel, which also emphasizes the balance needed for both. What this book also does, similar to Voltaire but on a children's level, is make fun of the norms people take for granted, to reveal how absurd so much of it is. It's so anti-Si, it's hilarious to me. It's mocking conventional ideas of wisdom, morality, etc. In being "random", it's illustrating how very arbitrary human "order" and rules really are, that they've actually eschewed rhyme and reason.
    "Forming gratitude for the world around you and finding personal motivation and inspiration" -- bull's eye. I had been about to protest that it sounded like a very INFP thing to say, until I recalled the book. You are completely correct.
    "why the Kingdom of Wisdom is very silly until those two reign again" -- Rhyme and Reason, echoing, to my mind, the feud between the King of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician...which echoes the sundering between the humanities and sciences in our day.
    I must find time somewhere to read Candide with your commentary in mind.


    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    The fantasy genre otherwise strikes me as an e9 genre - escape from reality in the fantasy of the humble, regular person conquering some big bad force by being diplomatic and humble in working with others, but then developing backbone when needed. The theme is right on the surface and there is not much thought needed to suss it out. Everything I know about Harry Potter fits this.
    As does The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings.



    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I liked fairytales as a child, but most are more like fables to me than a full blown fantasy epic. I do admire the work of creating a "whole world", but I don't think that in itself is captivating enough for me to really enjoy the genre.

    The Narnia series has obvious symbolism, but I only liked them for the story. They didn't impact me because the themes felt obvious (very Biblical) and I had no perspective shift from it. I don't include them with my general criticism of fantasy though because I liked them and they are not favorites for reasons unrelated to my criticisms. As with most novels, I skim over very long passages describing action, especially warfare, and there is often too much of that in the fantasy genre for my taste.
    Hmm, well...C.S. Lewis wrote of this himself,

    "The Editor has asked me to tell you how I came to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
    I will try, but you must not believe all that authors tell you about how they wrote their books. This is not because they mean to tell lies. It is because
    a man writing a story is too excited about the story itself to sit back and notice how he is doing it. In fact, that might stop the works; just as, if you start thinking about how you tie your tie, the next thing is that you find you can't tie it. And afterwards, when the story is finished, he has forgotten a good deal of what writing it was like.
    One thing I am sure of. All my seven Narnian books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.'
    At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don't know where the Lion came from or why He came. But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him"


    So these books were not explicitly allegory; and yes, I agree with you that they don't touch as much on *personal* themes, as they do on moral or societal ones;
    and yet, and yet, what I think Lewis snuck into them was not morality, but classical Greco-Roman references -- fauns, satyrs, dryads, Bacchus, as well as the muttered quote from one of the Sleepers at the enchanted table, on the Island where Caspian meets his future wife, the star's daughter...:
    "Weren't meant to live like brutes. Get to the East while you've a chance: lands behind the sun." I also wonder whether this line was an example of what gave Lewis a stab of what he described as Joy in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy:
    "It must have the tang, the stab, the inconsolable longing."
    And THAT, together with the other lines in Surprised by Joy,
    "...I find myself exclaiming, 'Lies, lies! This was really a period of ecstasy. It consisted chiefly of moments when you were too happy to speak, when gods and heroes rioted through your head..."
    make me wonder whether Lewis was really an INFP and not an INTJ after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I never liked Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, sorry - I know you're a huge fan. I think these books are more social in nature - they read almost politically to me (and I prefer something like Orwell for that). There's this personal quality lacking...perhaps they are not "psychological" enough. Most books I like have very little plot and deal with no supernatural or even extraordinary events (I believe you thought at first that Proust was writing about the lives of the social elite, which is not at all what Proust really wrote about & is a mere backdrop, but you later on saw that), but they are heavy on the exploration of the psychology of the characters & deeply rooted social dynamics, and in the end, they say a lot more to me about human nature and reality. I don't get a deep sense about human motivations in fantasy genre - they seem to espouse moral lessons and vague, general themes about human virtues and vices. Of course, there are varying degrees of talent in any genre, but generally I find fantasy to attract writers who are not as good as those in other genres and don't develop their themes (if any) so deeply. Harry Potter is prototypical for me, then, not any outstanding exception.
    I agree that Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings differs -- in that touches on larger scale, grander themes, as it were: but this was explicitly by design. Tolkien once wrote that England had no heroic mythos of its own (I presume he meant compared to the Germanic or Norse myths), and he wrote to try to create one. I don't recall him saying he disliked *sarcasm*, but he openly disclaimed that The Lord of The Rings was parable: as he said,
    "I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
    (This will tie into sci fi / fantasy as I will touch on below. Hat tip to @PeaceBaby.)

    One other point on Tolkien: many tried to look at Lord of The Rings as a parable about World War 2 and/or nuclear weapons -- he disclaimed this, saying,
    One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918, all but one of my close friends were dead.
    I personally think his other purpose in writing was cathartic: by analogy to Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.[2]
    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    Anyhow, my point about this and intuition is that people sometimes think a taste for the fantasy genre is indicative of intuition, becomes sensors must scorn anything not "realistic", but I don't witness any strong correlation there. The genre itself doesn't have a stronger tendency to expose what's behind the concrete layer of reality anymore than other genres (and arguably, some fantasy novels can do so even LESS), even if it has supernatural elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    Preference that you keep it in thread, please.

    To me, it's no surprise JKR types as an INFJ; in fact, it's almost a relief to see her self-typing rather than the espoused typing of INFP you see floating about on the interwebs. Her themes always carried too much dichotomy to feel like they originated from an NFP for me, lacking subtlety and very little reflection on the core, interwoven threads connecting human experiences. (Actually, despite my thematic misgivings, seeing her listed as INFP was at least a motivator that an INFP could actually manage to write umpteen books and get some shit done. So, back to the drawing board on that one lol!)

    @OrangeAppled:


    I agree with this, very much so. The fantasy genre feels like the created world itself is more of the focus and the exploration of that world holds little appeal to me, unless highly consistent and imbued with a high degree of character depth. imo, fantasy generally yields little fruit on exploring the core themes of humanity and I find it generally simplistic, too literal and high in the use broad archetypes.

    Science fiction strangely does a much better job in general at exploring the human condition.
    Hi @PeaceBaby. Kept in thread: but as you can see, it is something of a hijack. Sorry.
    I wanted to completely agree with your comment that science fiction often does a much better job at exploring the human condition, with two provisos.
    First, to my mind, Science Fiction can be a cross between what has been called "the beast fable" -- anthropomorphized talking creatures, allowing them to act in ways and present truths which would be unacceptable in a human -- and in some cases, medieval morality plays. This is because the either the science fiction involves alien races, cultures, histories, faiths, which open up the field to speculation, OR to proselytizing about such (hence my Tolkien quote about 'purposed domination of the author'). Too often I have disliked science fiction because I disagreed with the ethos implanted in the world by the author, or he did a ham-handed job of making his points. Letting such things shine through organically, yet making them near enough the surface to be felt, and "for-the-sake-of-the-story-believeable" is a hard and delicate task...I suspect the more so as it is hard to craft and present an ethos unless one subscribes to it oneself.
    Isaac Asimov attempted this -- veering once again, as @OrangeAppled noticed, into social psychology, with his Lije Bailey / R. Daneel Olivaw in The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun; Poul Anderson did it *very* well with alien races in his Polyseotechnic Saga (David Falkayn) -- and I note in googling for the spelling of those last words, that he wrote Time Travel novels based on Scandanavian legends: I must check those out.

    @OrangeAppled, @PeaceBaby -- in all this, can you suggest types for the following:
    Norton Juster
    C.S. Lewis
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    ...and how on Earth is one supposed to categorize the Arthurian Legend?

    [1] One is reminded of a line, btw, in one of C.S. Lewis's novels :
    "But what about the other languages on Mars?"
    "I admit I don't understand about them. One thing I do know, and I believe I could prove it on purely philological grounds. They are incomparably less ancient than Hressa-Hlab, especially Surnibur, the language of the Sorns. I believe it could be shown that Surnibur is, by Malacandrian standards, quite a modern development. I doubt if its birth can be put back farther than a date which would fall within our own Cambrian period."

    [2] In her real life, Sayers had had a fling with, and had an illegitimate child by, what I guess today would be called a motorcycle gang member (this not withstanding her being one of the first women to graduate from Oxford, a celebrated Christian writer, and first-rate intellect)...there is a passage in one of her novels, Gaudy Night, in which the heroine, a novelist, is discussing one of her novels with Wimsey:

    “Well,” said Harriet, recovering her poise, “academically speaking, I admit that Wilfrid is the world’s worst goop. But if he doesn’t conceal the handkerchief, where’s my plot?”
    “Couldn’t you make Wilfrid one of those morbidly conscientious people, who have been brought up to think that anything pleasant must be wrong-so that, if he wants to believe the girl an angel of light she is, for that very reason, all the more likely to be guilty. Give him a puritanical father and a hellfire religion.”
    “Peter, that’s an idea.”
    “He has, you see, a gloomy conviction that love is sinful in itself, and that he can only purge himself by taking the young woman’s sins upon him and wallowing in vicarious suffering… He’d still be a goop, and a pathological goop, but he would be a bit more consistent.”
    “Yes-he’d be interesting. But if I give Wilfrid all those violent and lifelike feelings, he’ll throw the whole book out of balance.”
    “You would have to abandon the jig-saw kind of story and write a book about human beings for a change.”
    “I’m afraid to try that, Peter. It might go too near the bone.”
    “It might be the wisest thing you could do.”
    “Write it out and get rid of it?”
    “Yes.”
    “I’ll think about that. It would hurt like hell.”
    “What would that matter, if it made a good book?”
    She was taken aback, not by what he said, but by his saying it. She had never imagined that he regarded her work very seriously, and she had certainly not expected him to take this ruthless attitude about it. The protective male? He was being about as protective as a can-opener.
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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    Senior Member Studmuffin23's Avatar
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    Rowling walks a pretty close line between INFP and INFJ. In spite of her own self-assessment, I lean towards the former.

    David Bowie is the most clear-cut INFJ celebrity that I know of.

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    This is a brilliant post. I agree with @PeaceBaby I'm very glad you left it on thread. Though maybe these posts need to move on to a new thread with an appropriate title.

    Books...love them!

    Quote Originally Posted by grey_beard View Post
    I only read parts of Candide; but I detect a very similar flavor and style to what you mention in Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais: but from what you say, Rabelais is definitely more deliberately fantastical; and, yes, Voltaire was umm,...opinionated.
    Lewis Carroll's wit for was exemplified in the poem You Are Old, Father William, although Walrus and the Carpenter and Jabberwocky come close; the sheer phantasmagoric-yet-ordered quality in the story was to me a type of literary foreshadowing of the
    .
    For phantasmagorical I don't think there is anything better than Phantastes by Lewis' acknowledged master, George MacDonald. The opening scene where he wakes from sleep to find a river and a field with his bed in it, is just beautiful.

    Lewis has a more structured and less flowing beauty in his scenes; except for the wild dance of Bacchus and the woods, he seldom envisages a scene in magical and luminous colour. He makes up for this with actions and dialogue which show the characterisation better than MacDonald's characters.
    And I was unable to detect any social commentary in Lewis Carroll's Alice.

    Did I detect a note of sarcasm in saying "your hero, Tolkien" ? I admire him for his verbal craftsmanship; the fact that the entire *world* he created had distinct species/races of creatures, each with their own history against a common historical backdrop; and the fact that he invented complete languages together with their own syntax/grammar/punctuation (he was a philologist by trade; *I* believe it shows compared to the names/places in most fantasy/sci-fi). [1]
    ...on re-reading, I see you mentioned this below already. (T'sk t'sk at myself.)
    This naming business is the primary reason I hated Tolkein's Rings; the whole setup seemed to me to be terribly forced and full of needless pomposity. By contrast the (probably INFP, but a scientist) mythical world of Rothfuss' [i]Name of the Wind [/] has characters who are far deeper drawn and who move in a world where the nursery rhymes, current theatre plays and characters within those plays, and legends and faerie creatures are excellently consistent; add to that the beauty of a writer with at least some knowledge of the principles of entropy plus mental agility training methods (eg break your mind into four parts and believe something different with each part!) - or the Earthsea world (or most other writings by) Ursula Le Guin...
    Indeed, this is true: and it agrees with my experience in reading Tollbooth. I wasn't looking for themes, but instead loved the individuals: Tock, and laughing at the Mathemagician's Division Dumplings, and developing a schoolboy crush on the Princesses. I didn't notice the symbols until you pointed them out in this post (bows). But that to my mind, makes it all the better, because I resent "the purposed domination of the author".

    "Forming gratitude for the world around you and finding personal motivation and inspiration" -- bull's eye. I had been about to protest that it sounded like a very INFP thing to say, until I recalled the book. You are completely correct.
    "why the Kingdom of Wisdom is very silly until those two reign again" -- Rhyme and Reason, echoing, to my mind, the feud between the King of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician...which echoes the sundering between the humanities and sciences in our day.
    I must find time somewhere to read Candide with your commentary in mind.
    I don't fancy reading Candide, for the ad hominum reason that Voltaire did much to harm Christianity in his life...although he was *involved* with one of the very clever early female scientists whose name escapes me right now...
    I liked Phantom Tollbooth, more for its structure, pace and witticisms than for the reasons given by you and @OrangeAppled. As a lesson in developing and trusting one's own Fi and Te, it could hardly be bettered. The puns and wordplay of naming the dog, or of the Which Witch, or jumping to conclusions...those are the quirky parts I remember. Surely an INTJ wrote it...

    Talking of INTJ authors and heroes, has anyone here read or liked Dorothy Dunnett and her INTJ hero Francis Crawford of Lymond? A hero who uses quotes in six languages, is embedded as far as I am aware correctly in some obscure English / Scotrish border skirmishes in real history, who is heartless enough to kill or maim without thought when he deems it necessary and yet clever enough to play a double / triple / sextuple game with all the different warring tribes and flirt wittily and charmingly and profoundly thoughtfully with a blind heroine...inspirational, yet I felt inadequate in knowledge reading it. I loved it and yet felt totally put in my place by him as a character...the most masculine romantic hero I have ever read, I think...
    As does The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings.
    Hmm, well...C.S. Lewis wrote of this himself,

    "The Editor has asked me to tell you how I came to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
    I will try, but you must not believe all that authors tell you about how they wrote their books. This is not because they mean to tell lies. It is because
    a man writing a story is too excited about the story itself to sit back and notice how he is doing it. In fact, that might stop the works; just as, if you start thinking about how you tie your tie, the next thing is that you find you can't tie it. And afterwards, when the story is finished, he has forgotten a good deal of what writing it was like.
    One thing I am sure of. All my seven Narnian books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.'
    At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don't know where the Lion came from or why He came. But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him"


    So these books were not explicitly allegory; and yes, I agree with you that they don't touch as much on *personal* themes, as they do on moral or societal ones;
    and yet, and yet, what I think Lewis snuck into them was not morality, but classical Greco-Roman references -- fauns, satyrs, dryads, Bacchus, as well as the muttered quote from one of the Sleepers at the enchanted table, on the Island where Caspian meets his future wife, the star's daughter...:
    "Weren't meant to live like brutes. Get to the East while you've a chance: lands behind the sun." I also wonder whether this line was an example of what gave Lewis a stab of what he described as Joy in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy:
    "It must have the tang, the stab, the inconsolable longing."
    And THAT, together with the other lines in Surprised by Joy,
    "...I find myself exclaiming, 'Lies, lies! This was really a period of ecstasy. It consisted chiefly of moments when you were too happy to speak, when gods and heroes rioted through your head..."
    make me wonder whether Lewis was really an INFP and not an INTJ after all.
    Have you read the recent Planet Narnia by Michael Wood? He demonstrates unequivocally on my view the linkages from the Narnia books to the myths of the Medieval Planets; it makes sense of the differences between the seven books in style and typing; it explains many details such as the differences between Aslan in the books; plot and speed and even the characters and mythological figures chosen for each book; the grand structure is clearly demonstrated and Wood even suggests that the Narnia books were intended to hint at the existence of such a puzzle left for the reader to solve for themselves. Sheer genius. I won't enumerate the details here since it would be a shame to spoil it but it is an excellent read.

    For me that demonstrates that Lewis has Ni; the inner world of mythology and medieval imagery was his mental playground. I think he is an INTJ, but his writing is softened by some ability to relate to others using some kind of borrowed skills in Fe; he uses simple types of persuasive skills frequently in his non fictional theology books. He married late and unexpectedly to an outwardly unsuitable lady, a divorcee. That to me suggests the late development of Fi of the INTJ. And I think the tang, the stab, the piercing moment is also an Fi moment; he felt these through his life but could not describe them well; an INFP is usually fluent in such descriptions. With Lewis terse expressions dense with feeling abound; the INTJ struggling to express not the INFP outpouring of purple passages. Take this from 'Arthurian Torso' which I am currently devouring; Lewis is scene setting and recalling his dead friend Williams: "It may help the reader to imagine the scene; or at least it is to me both great pleasure and great pain to recall. Picture to yourself, then, ..." I cannot imagine an INFP being that brief about a strong emotion.
    I agree that Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings differs -- in that touches on larger scale, grander themes, as it were: but this was explicitly by design. Tolkien once wrote that England had no heroic mythos of its own (I presume he meant compared to the Germanic or Norse myths), and he wrote to try to create one. I don't recall him saying he disliked *sarcasm*, but he openly disclaimed that The Lord of The Rings was parable: as he said,
    "I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
    (This will tie into sci fi / fantasy as I will touch on below. Hat tip to @PeaceBaby.)

    One other point on Tolkien: many tried to look at Lord of The Rings as a parable about World War 2 and/or nuclear weapons -- he disclaimed this, saying,
    One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918, all but one of my close friends were dead.
    I personally think his other purpose in writing was cathartic: by analogy to Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.[2]

    Hi @PeaceBaby. Kept in thread: but as you can see, it is something of a hijack. Sorry.
    I wanted to completely agree with your comment that science fiction often does a much better job at exploring the human condition, with two provisos.
    First, to my mind, Science Fiction can be a cross between what has been called "the beast fable" -- anthropomorphized talking creatures, allowing them to act in ways and present truths which would be unacceptable in a human -- and in some cases, medieval morality plays. This is because the either the science fiction involves alien races, cultures, histories, faiths, which open up the field to speculation, OR to proselytizing about such (hence my Tolkien quote about 'purposed domination of the author'). Too often I have disliked science fiction because I disagreed with the ethos implanted in the world by the author, or he did a ham-handed job of making his points. Letting such things shine through organically, yet making them near enough the surface to be felt, and "for-the-sake-of-the-story-believeable" is a hard and delicate task...I suspect the more so as it is hard to craft and present an ethos unless one subscribes to it oneself.
    Isaac Asimov attempted this -- veering once again, as @OrangeAppled noticed, into social psychology, with his Lije Bailey / R. Daneel Olivaw in The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun; Poul Anderson did it *very* well with alien races in his Polyseotechnic Saga (David Falkayn) -- and I note in googling for the spelling of those last words, that he wrote Time Travel novels based on Scandanavian legends: I must check those out.

    @OrangeAppled, @PeaceBaby -- in all this, can you suggest types for the following:
    Norton Juster
    C.S. Lewis
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    ...and how on Earth is one supposed to categorize the Arthurian Legend?
    As a Brit, I find the Arthurian legend probably the most profound and satisfying of all our legends (and there are some...eg Robin Hood, St George) - I think because of the links into the Christology of the Holy Grail and Sir Galahad, and yet in the Great Hall at Winchester there is a HUGE Round Table mounted vertically on a wall of the Hall; I cannot give dimensions but it must be twenty or thirty foot in diameter...I have stood there and gasped in wonder, and it is not overpoweringly big within the Hall... I think the claim to be a new King Arthur would strike a subconscious and profoundly uneasy threat into the heart of a Brit; this is the best analogy I can come up with to the threat the Jewish hearers felt when Jesus claimed to be 'the good shepherd, the vine, the light...' and so on from their historical and mythological past...

    [1] One is reminded of a line, btw, in one of C.S. Lewis's novels :
    "But what about the other languages on Mars?"
    "I admit I don't understand about them. One thing I do know, and I believe I could prove it on purely philological grounds. They are incomparably less ancient than Hressa-Hlab, especially Surnibur, the language of the Sorns. I believe it could be shown that Surnibur is, by Malacandrian standards, quite a modern development. I doubt if its birth can be put back farther than a date which would fall within our own Cambrian period."

    [2] In her real life, Sayers had had a fling with, and had an illegitimate child by, what I guess today would be called a motorcycle gang member (this not withstanding her being one of the first women to graduate from Oxford, a celebrated Christian writer, and first-rate intellect)...there is a passage in one of her novels, Gaudy Night, in which the heroine, a novelist, is discussing one of her novels with Wimsey:

    “Well,” said Harriet, recovering her poise, “academically speaking, I admit that Wilfrid is the world’s worst goop. But if he doesn’t conceal the handkerchief, where’s my plot?”
    “Couldn’t you make Wilfrid one of those morbidly conscientious people, who have been brought up to think that anything pleasant must be wrong-so that, if he wants to believe the girl an angel of light she is, for that very reason, all the more likely to be guilty. Give him a puritanical father and a hellfire religion.”
    “Peter, that’s an idea.”
    “He has, you see, a gloomy conviction that love is sinful in itself, and that he can only purge himself by taking the young woman’s sins upon him and wallowing in vicarious suffering… He’d still be a goop, and a pathological goop, but he would be a bit more consistent.”
    “Yes-he’d be interesting. But if I give Wilfrid all those violent and lifelike feelings, he’ll throw the whole book out of balance.”
    “You would have to abandon the jig-saw kind of story and write a book about human beings for a change.”
    “I’m afraid to try that, Peter. It might go too near the bone.”
    “It might be the wisest thing you could do.”
    “Write it out and get rid of it?”
    “Yes.”
    “I’ll think about that. It would hurt like hell.”
    “What would that matter, if it made a good book?”
    She was taken aback, not by what he said, but by his saying it. She had never imagined that he regarded her work very seriously, and she had certainly not expected him to take this ruthless attitude about it. The protective male? He was being about as protective as a can-opener.
    Neither male nor female need to be protective of the other...not the Fi types, anyway. Harriet is Fi and here discovers that Peter is also Fi. To be protective is seen by Harriet as worthless, presumably because she dismisses protectiveness as Fe "bunkum"...

    Sayers ...possibly INTJ but if so, then a very well developed Ne or imagination...maybe INFP because of the insights into people...but in that case very good at editing down to the key points. I think I'd probably go INFP on her; her description of how a failed Cambridge graduate feels, at the start of Gaudy Night gets me every time...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    I agree with this too. But even though these are 9'ish themes, they don't appeal to me either, since again they generally don't transform the main character, only increase some sort of confidence factor without any rationale or sense of internal justification. Simpy being under adversity and finding "confidence" is not a transformation, it is a rising to the surface, but without transformation, quite likely to sink right back down again.
    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post

    The fantasy genre otherwise strikes me as an e9 genre - escape from reality in the fantasy of the humble, regular person conquering some big bad force by being diplomatic and humble in working with others, but then developing backbone when needed. The theme is right on the surface and there is not much thought needed to suss it out. Everything I know about Harry Potter fits this.

    I never liked Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, sorry - I know you're a huge fan. I think these books are more social in nature - they read almost politically to me (and I prefer something like Orwell for that). There's this personal quality lacking...perhaps they are not "psychological" enough. Most books I like have very little plot and deal with no supernatural or even extraordinary events (I believe you thought at first that Proust was writing about the lives of the social elite, which is not at all what Proust really wrote about & is a mere backdrop, but you later on saw that), but they are heavy on the exploration of the psychology of the characters & deeply rooted social dynamics, and in the end, they say a lot more to me about human nature and reality. I don't get a deep sense about human motivations in fantasy genre - they seem to espouse moral lessons and vague, general themes about human virtues and vices. Of course, there are varying degrees of talent in any genre, but generally I find fantasy to attract writers who are not as good as those in other genres and don't develop their themes (if any) so deeply.
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post

    I agree with this, very much so. The fantasy genre feels like the created world itself is more of the focus and the exploration of that world holds little appeal to me, unless highly consistent and imbued with a high degree of character depth. imo, fantasy generally yields little fruit on exploring the core themes of humanity and I find it generally simplistic, too literal and high in the use broad archetypes.

    Science fiction strangely does a much better job in general at exploring the human condition.
    @OrangeAppled, @PeaceBaby, @Rambling --

    I'm going to commit a double faux pas here by resurrecting a thread necro hijack.

    Because, it's interesting. It will contain a comment on Lord of The Rings, and suggestions for other literature, better dealing with psychology and society.

    Commenting here on The Lord of The Rings, Tolkien himself has some interesting comments.

    I received "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" for Christmas, which form the basis for my remarks in this reply.

    Of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum, and the transformation, he wrote in a draft to Michael Straight (undated, probably January or February 1956):

    ...The final scene of the Quest was so shaped simply because having regard to the situation, and to the 'characters' of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum, those events
    seemed to me mechanically, morally, and psychologically credible. But of course, if you wish for more reflection, I should say that within the mode of the
    story the 'catastrophe' exemplifies (an aspect of) the familiar words: 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not
    into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'
    'Lead us not into temptation &c' is the harder and the less often considered petition. The view, in the terms of the story, is that though every event or situation
    has (at least) two aspects: the history and development of the individual (it is something out of which he can get good, ultimate good, for himself, or fail to do so),
    and the history of the world (which depends on his action for its own sake) -- still there are abnormal situations in which one may be placed. 'Sacrificial' situations,
    I should call them: sc. positions in which the 'good' of the world depends on the behaviour of the individual in circumstances which demand of him suffering and
    endurance far beyond the normal -- even, it may happen (or seem, humanly speaking), demand a strength of body and mind which he does not possess: he is in
    a sense doomed to failure, doomed to fall to temptation or be broken by pressure against his 'will': that is against any choice he could make or would make unfettered,
    not under the duress.
    ...(snip)



    So it appears that LOTR was not the humble, regular person conquering some big bad force by being diplomatic and humble in working with others, begging your pardon, @OrangeAppled.
    Nonetheless, I agree that it is not in *general* primarily concerned with an exploration or exhibition of social psychology, as you appear to prefer.

    In response to your comment '...Most books I like have very little plot and deal with...the exploration of the psychology of the characters & deeply rooted social dynamics',
    I agree: most of Tolkien is not very good and science fiction is better.

    May I suggest, from science fiction, Poul Anderson's Satan's World (don't be misled by the title!), and, in the non-science-fiction genre, Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, (as C.S. Lewis called it, 'a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere'), Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, C.S. Lewis's and Warren Lewis's (his brother) Boxen stories (tho' this may be a stretch -- anthopomorphized talking animals engaged in political intrigue, written when both authors were schoolboys!), and, finally, in another vein, the most Proust-like of the work, but slanted towards an in-depth description of *one* man and how he related to his now archaic society, Boswell's Life of Johnson (if you like genius in erudition and thought- or quote-mining, you'll *love* this book).
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Studmuffin23 View Post
    Rowling walks a pretty close line between INFP and INFJ. In spite of her own self-assessment, I lean towards the former.

    David Bowie is the most clear-cut INFJ celebrity that I know of.
    I've read several Bowie biographies, listened to each album at least once, and watched countless interviews and behind-the-scenes footage (i.e. documentaries)--the man is anything but INFJ.

    curious how you came to that conclusion.

    I know ISFP is the popular choice for Bowie, but I'm not quite sure that's accurate either.

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