Sunday, 9 December 2012

Week 8 (Mon 26 Nov)

Today's subject was tragedy, and in the lecture, we watched the classic film noir, Out Of The Past (1947), starring Robert Mitchum and directed by veteran Jacques Torneur, which dealt with a retired private eye who is called back by an old employer, and in turn, confronts people from his past, including a woman who he once was charged with bringing back to his employer, but then got involved with her. Eventually, this relationship leads to his downfall and death.

Then, in the seminar, we took a much broader examination of tragedy:
  • Tragedy actually means 'Goat Song' in Greek, and is derived, presumably from ancient Greek festivals and rituals.
  • Some authors and analysts likened it to a season in the year (Tragedy: Autumn, Comedy: Spring, Romance: Summer and Satire: Winter).
  • Despite its name, tragedy is not necessarily the same as tragic (i.e. a child dying is tragic, but is not necessarily a tragedy), rather, tragedy in this sense is more do with hubris (excessive pride, and how that causes a fall. It was Nietzsche who argued that individualism (standing out from the crowd) can lead to a person's downfall.)
  • There are only 33 tragedies left in existence, and between them, only 3 surviving authors (Aeschylus (who pioneered the second actor), Sophocles (who introduced the third actor) and Euripides (who has 19 surviving plays).
Then, on the note of Ancient Greece, we then looked at Artistotle's Poetics and looked at some of the terminology he utilised when discussing tragedy (Aristotle believeing firmly in the primacy of plot over other elements):
  • Mimesis: Imitation (which is what Aristotle is the basis of drama)
  • Katharsis: Cleansing/purification
  • Peripetein: Reversal
  • Anagonosis: Discovery
  • Harmatia: Mistake
  • Mythos: Plot
Then, we were set a task, in groups, to come up with a tragedy, incorporating these elements, but in a modern setting: My group came up with a story about a kindly working-class man, also in a loving relationship with a woman, who, after winning the lottery, lets the money go to head and indulges in various vices, especially drugs, which in turn leads to mental disorders that turn him aggressive and violent, even going so far as to attack his girlfriend. She leaves and, realising what he has done, commits suicide out of shame.

In conclusion, today's lesson had a lot of depth, and it enlightened me a lot on Tragedy and how it was not as straightforward as one would assume or think, having more elements and, as mentioned before, not necessarily synonymous with tragic as one who think at first.

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