Thursday, January 04, 2007

After all these years, we still don't know whether art imitates life or life imitates art.

Today on some chuck cable news station some chuck pundit was talking about what flaws a particular political group might have in the coming year (no more details in part because I avoid explicit discussion of contemporary "politics," in part because I don't remember it all, and in part because I wasn't paying very good attention). This pundit mentioned overstepping and referred to hubris. I started thinking of Greek tragedy at the word, and most of the ideas were twisting and oozing and gushing in my brain before the pundit said something to the effect of, "We haven't really advanced beyond Greek tragedy." Before he mentioned this, my stream of consciousness was, "Hmm, those Greeks were really onto something. They had something real in their art about human nature. But wait--why would a contemporary pundit even use the word 'hubris'? Were the Greeks really onto something, or were their works so formative and influential that even today people see the world through the framework of Greek tragedy? Did the Greeks see the nature of humanity, or did they preach a viewpoint of humanity that everybody still believes?"

And so it goes. Why haven't we advanced beyond Greek tragedy? Is it because, in truth, there is a universal, timeless aspect to human nature, and particularly to human beings who strive for power? Or are we essentially incapable of looking at the world in any other way because the basic forms and structures we have for making meaning were set in place so long ago? Has the world simply been interpreted through those forms for so long and so many times that it is the natural way we intrepret it? Or is it the "right" way to interpret it, some eternal truth of human nature?

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