Aug. 29th, 2010

para1: (BSG - Metamorphosis 3)
I'm going to cite someone whose name I've forgotten. (Perfect beginning to review this, I think.)

The person in question suggested that fiction forces us to empathize with its characters and experience emotions that we wouldn't have otherwise felt. And then he said something that has not left me, even though its author's name has: that the only reason tragedy has a larger impact on its audience is that it actually gives the audience a mild case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The result is that the piece of fiction stays with you longer than a comparable piece of comedy.

The result, he said, was that we value depressing stories higher. They force us to deal with them longer and we mistake that for greater depth. "It made me think." But usually it did not.

I mean what does Romeo & Juliet's tragic ending as opposed to a hypothetical happy ending tell you? That you better use an expensive courier instead of going cheap-o? Don't fall in love with the "wrong" person. Well. Poor impulse control is bad? Duh.

I mean I love Nabokov's Lolita but the only useful message I get out of its tragedy is not to be a pedo.

I love that tragic ending and it impacts me greatly when Humbert hears the children's voices in the distance and regrets that Lolita's is not among them because he stole her childhood. It's sad, and you get perhaps the first time the idea that what he felt was genuine enough to force him to regret his actions. And this is an interesting character study but it tells me very little about the world. Perhaps if you're into reading too much into this, you might see the potential for an interpretation that love is valuing someone else's happiness above your own.

But that's not a revolutionary thought. Lolita is a scenic journey of a book but if its tragic ending makes you think, you're probably over-thinking it.

On the comedy end of the spectrum you have something like The Truman Show semi-accurately predicting reality television. It's a mere comedy and tells you point blank that if you put a bunch of normal guys living their real life on tv that people will be enraptured. You walk out of that movie without PTSD and at least in 1998 it told you more about the future than you ever wanted to know.

And don't get me started on The Life of Brian, in which the only thing that the (fake) messiah can't get his followers to do for him is to stop killing in his name. That's a comedy. They have a character named Dickus Biggus.

semi-vague spoilers for Mockingjay )

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August 2010

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