History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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archive: from cookie monsters to ‘high kulcha’…from revolutions to floating forth turning points…

July 15th, 2017 · No Comments

This archived post serves as a reminder that revolutions must understand, if not mimic, the historical creativity that, among many effects, staged the ‘tragic genre’…

Richards, cookie monsters, drag-on adders
May 24th, 2016 ·

Caught in the act: cookie monster has nervous breakdown..notes toward a neo-classical Tragic theatre at the end of capitalism

I think the framework in this post, despite a studied silliness (effective against the pomposity of much discussion of tragedy), shows that the tragic genre is not necessarily as esoteric as it is made out to be. A real drama requires a living theatre for that and without it is a bit abstract. The mysteries disappear if you have a tragic plot (flexible), some kind of poetics, and a opening night deadline. Without that we end in the wasteland depicted by Steiner in the Death of Tragedy. I think my framework shows why Steiner is only partly right.

I think we may be out of time for the whole question, but one thing I have noticed is that you don’t have to close on an instance of tragic art to get the real point, which emerges from nothing more than a set of notes, as in the post above. It is almost better because it doesn’t have to close on a finished product in the immense expenditure of poetic energy all to likely to misfire. Steiner has a lot of examples of failed attempts to write tragic dramas in the wake of Shakespeare.
In any case it is important to see how our literature lost what it briefly had, a whole dimension of the aesthetic in terms of prose versus poetic drama. We can live without a tragic theatre, but we shouldn’t pretend we can do the subject in prose. A Dostoyevsky can do this, but in a novel. Fine. In any case, it is important to see the reality of the Hollywood consciousness we live in, and that becomes especially obvious in the one real candidate for tragedy lost in the wasteland: the Star Wars enigma of crudity gyrates toward fake instances of high drama, a puzzle soluble in an instant were it a tragical play in blank verse.
Not to worry: we must assume (and the exercise above will suggest it) that Shakespeare created and closed a whole continent of tragedy and we should be grateful for that, and be wary that the genre is played out, more or less, for English, at least. A study of the issue in WHEE at history and evolution.com shows how ‘tragedy’ correlates with a marco effect, a warning we can’t defy its mysterious historical logic. But it would be nice to have a way out of the wasteland of confusions here (partly solved by the novel, but…).
Still, one never knows. One would have thought Homer the last of a genre, but then Virgil appeared. We will see a final brief appearance of the tragic blank verse drama, perhaps in the endgame of modernity, til then…

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