On the lack of Tragedy
In our days of Kulturkampf art as a whole has become infected and succumbed to a body of liberal politics and endless spiral of self-cannibalising deconstruction, in addition to a variety of other terminal diseases át already has – whether it would be cinema, music, architecture, sculpture, theatre, dance. Not to mention that little of the high arts have been left that is not a sort of mausoleum reenactment in emptying sequestered halls for people in some luxury, but with feeble spirits and decadent minds.
Artists have become no more than mere merchants occupying old temples that they have once have been vacated by an angry man. And the Sacred has left them. The whole art establishment has become no more than entertainment, as it no longer has roots to the sacred, the original source of art, it no longer stirs up the spirit of Man to look upon oneself and aspire towards higher aims, towards Glory, towards God, towards the Primordial.
A very revealing point of this decay in art, as a reflection of a Man’s spirit, is a visible lack of Tragedy in modernity and modern arts.
Now, there are instances where this statement does not really apply – for example as I have been contemplating this piece I have been exposed to a few quite a fresh movies that have an aspect of tragedy Dennis Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’ – yet MAXALT is not an argument.
Why Tragedy, though, is significant?
Primarily, because Tragedy as a form is quite ancient, barely a stone’s throw away from its progenitor – The Ritual – and that it requires and is about things that are completely contrary to the current hegemonic state of ideas and worldviews (for now).
Tragedy, in all its forms and shapes, demands but one single thing – the downfall. The higher the rise of a character, the more insightful and long lasting experience. For this matter, tragedy is more compelling (and let’s be truthful, only interesting) if the ascent is above the average existence, and rather well beyond it. It implicitly enacts a vertical axis of reality, that there would be the up and the down, which in a way is a deeply existential religious form.
Importantly, the ascent of the protagonist is never a material one, either. It is not about heights of political power, or wealth, or anything as petty. It is about struggling for something that is metaphysical, ideal, greater than life itself.
The other side of the ascent, the downfall, then, begins to take the symmetrically opposite shape. Something that is beyond death, something even darker and worse than it. Death thus becomes an option and usually a way out to dampen the anguish that is beyond all desperation.
Both the ascent and downfall are then thus tied with a very dynamic link between free will and determinism, leaving us with an uneasiness that can never be absolved through thought, only through action.
To this we put Modernity, which is a safe space: there is no risk, no real consequence, no absolute choices, no stakes. Tragedy, however, shows that Life that is worth living is not about chasing happiness, not about pleasure or comfort, not about rights to, but about obligations, duties and prerogatives – obey the God(s), love your Woman, and fight for your People; to put in a crude way of a heroic character. In other terms, it is not about consumption, but about sacrifice, an action is outwards, not inwards. It is a mature choice, rather than continued subjugation of oneself to one’s own desires and hunger.
But even when all things that are being done are correct, ‘bad things just happen’. It is a heroic view of the cosmos, where one is never a victim of circumstances, but a master, even if that mastery is over one’s downfall.
Purpose of a tragedy is, ultimately, Catharsis – to purge the fear of death, expunge pity, extract nihilism and to make us stronger and sturdier from traumatic reflection within our inner domain with a Great perfectly flawed character whos undoing and suffering was his own set of choices and the dynamics with the seeming determinism of the universe.
It is about overcoming and attempting to be greater than we actually are, striving upwards, never downwards and understanding that all true choices come with a burden of consequence. Sometimes, a tragic one. Yet. that does not stop a hero, and neither it should stop you.