Jul 13, 1999

When I was in university, I took a course on aesthetics, figuring that since I liked art and I liked philosophy, I'd enjoy aesthetics. Much to my disbelief, my professor spent the entire course dealing with the nuances of Oedipus Rex. I still, to this day, do not understand how he justified it and how so many of his students, including myself, put up with this bait and switch.

But at least I know Tragedy.

This is ultimately a good thing because in this day and age we have nothing near it. Laurie Anderson made a comparison of Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Gene Roddenbery's Star Trek in an article of the New York Times magazine: imagine the Enterprise traveling in deep space, facing some sort of calamity, and the ship explodes immediately killing everyone except one lone survivor in a space suit floating in the loneliness of space saying, "call me Ishmail"...

Even the movie Titanic isn't a proper tragedy because the senseless loss of life is ultimately justified in the movie by Kate Winslett's character being liberated into a free sprit by romantic love.

This brings to mind something I remember reading by Kurt Vonnegut explaining why he didn't write love stories: he said you could have the world blow up but as long as the guy gets to kiss the girl then everything is deemed all right.

Another Vonnegut quote I like is his thoughts about the future: things are going to get worse and worse and they are never going to get better again. In regards of our natural environment, I agree with him.

And I think one of the reasons that its impossible for most people to accept his statement is because we refuse to even accept the concept of tragedy, even in our arts.