M.Snowe watched a play yesterday. Not having been to one in ages, it was unclear what to expect. Entertainment was a cert, but as for anything else, who knew. The play ended up being jarring at times, and the acting was overall well done, except for the odd side character who's vague attempts to upstage were more pitiful than anything else. But the lead role performed wonderfully (perhaps due to getting the best lines, perhaps not). All of that aside, M.Snowe got to thinking about theatrical catharsis--that old Aristotelian noun translated roughly to mean identification and empathy with situations of theatrical human suffering, while simultaneously experiencing a feeling of joy/pleasure because the situation performed on the stage is not happening to you (as of yet). And Aristotle made some good points. It's nice to see the apocalypse on the stage, and watch it wiped clean with the swipe of the last curtain. But sometimes, a real good plan will not just make you vested in the lives of the characters. Sometimes your identification is so deep that catharsis is transcended. Sometimes, the vital truths illuminated in a play, however weirdly presented, stay with an audience member long after the final bow. This can happen with mediums of art. There should be a new term, a higher catharsis--a hybrid between catharsis and the death drive. It would be defined as empathy and pleasure at the experience of artful tragedy, but not pleasure because you are observing at a safe distance--pleasure because you too can see the beauty in your own tragedy, your self-same lament.
Speaking of tragedy, let's talk economy. What we are experiencing is not a main street event. The government decided to deregulate banks years back, and now, low and behold--the investment bankers played some dirty tricks with the books. Only now, we're the ones paying for it (in taxes?). Who is helping the poor people that were misinformed when they entered into bad deal home loans? Why are we more worried about men (because they're almost if not all men) who's incomes have gone from eight or seven digits to maybe only six? Saving the jobs of the people who got us into this mess is not the answer (ummm....can you say Moral Hazard???). These bankers know no shame and feel only entitlement. They earned the tragedy that is crouching towards them--and yet the Bush administration is eager to lighten the blow, or preempt it (go figure, Bush and a preemptive war?). It's harsh, but its hard to feel sorry for people who knowingly aimed at making deals and taking advantage of those who were strapped for catch, and just wanted a place to call their own. These people are responsible for the tumbling economy--they have faces, names, and are easily found. Bush likes to combat things, especially enemies. Yet in this case he is showing mercy to merciless people who are not exactly in hiding. Yes, banks being run into the ground is bad news for everyone, but there should be consequences for the people who ran them there in the first place--they deserve a bit of a tragic fall. And that would be a bit of tragedy we could all get on board with. Talk about cathartic.