30. Spring, 2014

The most pronounced statement nature makes is the transformation of spring's rebirth. As I love this metaphor, I'm drawn to it year after year after year. I too to some degree am reborn every year and as every tree I have another ring of experience housed within my body. Perhaps it was the aggressiveness of this past winter or my fall on the ice (see #28 and #29), but I am looking forward to this spring more than I usually do. I too am looking forward to writing a draft of a new play one of these days, as opposed to reworking an older play, as has been my preoccupation these past years.

I'd read it before, but didn't get much out of it so it surprised me when I had in interest in rereading Aristotle's Poetics. I've never grasped the whole "fatal flaw" argument behind Tragedy, on a human level. I get it but I've never felt it. I never felt its importance. I never felt it inside, no matter how many times it was regurgitated to me. I remember hearing in grad school that Poetics was not a formal essay, but something more casual, something closer to notes for a lecture. I too came across, a few years back, a different explanation, translation really, of "fatal flaw" into "fatal error" (Wallace, Jennifer. The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy. 118-19). An error or a mistake, this is more human, this I can grasp. Tragedy makes more sense from this perspective. This I feel viscerally.

I read six lesser known Greek plays (three by Aeschylus, three by Sophocles) while I was recovering from my fall. With this concentration I had a clearer sense of theatre's evolution through these two playwrights--an evolution that was in process as Aristotle was writing Poetics. I don't mean to make it sound as if Tragedy is frozen in time--it is still evolving and will continue to evolve. Aristotle saw Sophocles' Oedipus as Tragedy's finest example and I agree it is the best of Sophocles' plays to come down to us. Two things struck a deeper chord for me, as I read Poetics: the primacy of the story or plot and the use of reversal and discovery, especially when the discovery causes the reversal, as in Oedipus. It is as true in life, as it is in a play--a reversal of fortune, whether positive or negative (however you may define those terms) reinvents the world we live in and makes everything anew; an organic rebirth of sorts, whether we want it or not, whether we accept it or not, whether we like it or not.

originally posted April 2014
reposted March 2018

-- back --