Friday, October 06, 2006

On Tragedy

Tragedy re-affirms the human spirit. It is an ennobling and essential part of life; it defines and rationalizes the vastness, energy and worth of living. It explains and glorifies human travail; gives pain and death meaning and comprehension...and purpose. There can be no lessons without tragedy's blood, sweat and tears. Ascending a high mountain top begins with a long, slow climb from a deep valley. The celebration and re-birth of Easter is not possible without the torture and descent into hell of Good Friday.

Tragedy was once considered only within the purview of Kings, Queens and Nobles; no commoners allowed. Only a fall from a height could achieve tragic sacrifice and doom. And only the nobility lived in high towers; the rest of us lived in flat, squat houses. No great fall is possible from a low ceiling; tragic learning required high, gilt-edged books. But as our measurement of human worth moved from purely economic measurements, wealth and silk and perfume, and as Darwin, Freud and Einstein has made all humanity subject to the same inner humbling definitions and laws, we are became equally high...or low. Human dignity, humankind's worth, has become universally valued, and made tragically comparable.

The tumble of a lowly clown is now as great as the instructive fall of a great king. Tragedy is a common coin; its purchased lesson are universal. The defintion of all human tragedy, that is sacrifice=worth, defines us all. As the street would have it: 'No pain; no gain'. Tragedy is humanity's glory...and burden; and the essential core of all great drama.


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