The question of the tragic genre is difficult: in fact no one has ever been able to define it, except maybe the charming attempt by Chaucer (Aristotle in the background):
Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storie,
As olde bookes maken us memorie,
Of hym that stood in greet prosperitee,
And is yfallen out of heigh degree
Into myserie, and endeth wrecchedly
(Geoffrey Chaucer, The Monk’s Tale; late 14th century)
But wait, there are dozens of other definitions: https://purwarno-sastra-uisu.blogspot.com/2005/12/definition-of-tragedy.html!
The point is rather that unlike a sonnet which is definable leading to sonnet writing by definition, tragedy beyond its simplistic definitions has no definable method: a ‘tragedy really means a ‘great tragedy’ with every mechanical recipe failing. There were actually considerable neo-classic canons here. Shakespeare managed the pass beyond them to solve the riddle of (Greek) tragedy (which he apparently never studied) which upon study is a case of many variants, most of which fail the definitions given. Racine is in a class by himself and needs a different study. The Greeks in Athens produced tragedies and comedies by the bushel but today no one can manage it. The issue of blank verse can’t be omitted although many claim that certain novels qualify, like Moby Dick. perhaps, but perhaps not. We confront the cases like Seneca: he wrote tragedies, yet we barely deal with them, despite falling within fixed definitions. That’s the point. Shakespeare create the genre beyond the genre and no definition save his genius can get from stereotype to a creative instance of the ‘tragedy’. Such novels are important in their own right in a new tradition, but the novel can never achieve the same result as a poetic drama. As Buddha says, all is transience, perhaps the verse drama will not revive. For many that is, so what, who cares. But too many Hollywood movies causes shrinkage in the brain, and you suddenly turn into a robot.
That’s why the genre is so rare: tragedians must reinvent the genre and produce a verse drama in actual fact, and it has to be a great work of art. This doesn’t really make sense. Many such as Ibsen have moved on. Those who insist blank verse tragedy is dead don’t understand blank verse or how to write it. But more likely drama will move on, to what, probably Hollywood movies.
It might be easier to make our case with the history of music which requires talent indeed, but it is more self-sustaining as a genre, ‘easier’, maybe because there is a talent for music, but not for writing blank verse, genius perhaps. There is of course a talent spectrum for poetry, but the case of tragedy seems different. We should note that classical music is de facto new invention of history, where tragedy emerges first in ancient times. (see below: Greek tragedy arises outside the transition, but that is a kind of welcome sign: free agents with Homer in the background created (or else Aeschylus) just outside the transition. (in the long run we want that as we take charge of our own history)).
We must brace ourselves for a shock: classical music emerges from the Renaissance spectrum around Monteverdi in chamber and operatic genres, develops rapidly then climaxes around 1800 with Mozart and Beethoven and then begins to peter out, but with Verdi and Puccini and the slightly different Wagner, and then nothing much. This timing if we are familiar with the eonic effect gives itself away at once and we get a shock: classical music is ‘system generated’ in a transition, and then wanes after the divide (1800). It doesn’t have to, but does. Then we see the explosion of ‘pop music’ producing zillions of cases in the twentieth century, very bound up in capitalism (but then so was the commercial theater of Shakespeare, but not the ‘religious festival’ genres of Greek drama.(Greek drama comes after the divide but still very close but really is an aspect of the epic tradition (Homer, if he existed) which peaks in the transition. It is possible another factor is in play here: classical music seems to exhaust a vein of gold, one might guess, and starts to break up clearly in the late Beethoven, then especially with the mysterious Wagner who is already in a different world, it seems: he deliberately moves against melodic forms, as if they were suddenly cliches, whatever. That puts him beyond the tradition we see so briefly. Wagner seems to show directly the shift from ‘system action’ to free action or free agency as the tries to oppose the gifts of music that seem too sugar to him as he grapples with creating a new kind of music, with what success is hard to figure out. A stunning reversal of process, yet as our model seems to predict.
We must be wary of being judgmental. Many fans of classical music are about and many can’t bear modern pop music. As students of the eonic effect we can be judgmental but only in terms of the dynamic under study. (But aesthetic judgments are of course universal) But the change in quality is obvious enough, and need not be a snobbish sentiment. (I happen to like all forms of music). We cannot say how this dynamic works in terms of individuals, their talents, and creativity. All we know is that the modern transition produces a fantastic new form of music in a non-random pattern that must have some kind of ‘eonic’ explanation. Individuals with talent are essential but outside the dynamic their talents don’t realize themselves, as far as we can see. The Greeks seem to understand better: they thought all poetry had a muse in the background
But then pop music becomes of great interest to the student of the eonic effect: because it shows music developing outside the larger dynamic: its signature is truer of human talents as they are in raw form. It is very unnerving but we must begin to assess our evolutionary history in its complexities and this includes the stark discovery of just how much human culture is an induced process. But we must be wary of analysis: we have a set of facts, our interpretations are something else.
The modern age is still young and the example of pop music a step to a larger history to come, no doubt, so judgment in a way must wait many centuries, so to speak.
Watch out: the eonic effect is close to an indirect falsification of Darwinian science fantasy life: be careful who you talk about it to. Biologists and professors of history are probably out since they have very restricted paradigms. If professionals can’t see the problem with Darwinism they are basket cases and may need to be not listened to. So far it’s your/our little secret. But the ‘eonic effect’ is close to public realization. This is the first century with enough new knowledge over five thousand years to see the evolutionary dynamic behind civilizations suddenly stand out. Evolution in deep time and evolutionary history are connected and it is not random evolution. But this kind of model is tricky: it has a dynamic, but it must take into account free agents in the context of system generation. The two overlap in transitions as some kind of boost appears.
This is not science, but the facts don’t lie: world history shows a clear dynamic up to the level of art generation.
Be careful of such a data set: it is vast and tricky….
Any discussion here must include the emergence of Elizabethan drama starting with the fascinating starting point of Gorboduc to Marlowe. And then Milton (and what of Samson Agonistes?). It is important to note that our transitions are not promoting a tragic view of life, but do innovate such a view in the context of an immense dialectical spread of innovations.
The eonic effect eludes us. We study too much Newtonian mechanics, but less often fluid dynamics. (there is no direct analogy here): we see a fluid history suddenly show a fretting structure. And on a scale we can’t visualize.
This material has three or more sets of enemies, making it hard to publicize: Darwinism, Old Testament/Christian views of history, science idiocy claiming history is a causal science like physics, along with marxist confusion over Marx’s great insights but terrible theories of history. Capitalist ideology is another pit of confusion: the ridiculous faux mathematics of neo-classical economics is even more muddled than marxism. By contrast the model here behind this data in one corner of drama in world history is based on solid evidence, but you must read a LOT of books on history, the final obstacle or almost. But the evidence is starting to stand out and the claims made will seem obvious in another generation. But this is impirical: there is no science of history in the usual sense. As a socialist I would say to throw out Marx’s theories: what is left is useful classic commentary on capitalism. Economics can learn to stick to models and computers and throw out calculus nonsense.The question of Jews and Christians needs another discussion.
This kind of new historical paradigm is for those who reject scientism, embrace science, but consider as did Kant a triple theme of reason, ethics, and aesthetics thence to find this in history in a post-theological era of collapsed theistic historicism which it resembles, in vain, because theistic histories are all bankrupt now. It is good to be lured into this forest and left there, as if abandoned, to puzzle over the core and limits of evolutionary immensities. It is too much to grasp at first but the task evokes a new curiosity, and a challenge even to that refuge, secular humanism But this model shows directly how the ‘god in history’ theme arises and how it fails, a mystery still of evolutionary macrohistorical dynamics. We cannot take in at first in a culture swamped in good physics, a dozen bad sciences. Say, something that can process art forms over millennia, and that is just one corner of the complex structure. Relax: you won’t figure out this riddle in a day. First you need historical facts: reading books on history. But the basic issue is very simple and very intuitive if you approach it carefully.
Reference Source: Is Cinema Dead Again? – CounterPunch.org The question points to the mediocre plots of almost every instance of cinema throughout its history. Here we must be snobs for a moment: Holly…