Aristotelian Unities

Sitting here at the Caribou doing my summer planning. I keep forgetting to get out of the house on a regular basis. SBC’s free wireless is no longer in effect here – I’ll have to subscribe probably but $20 a month is pretty reasonable – and it is available at many places in the city.

Compulsively listening to Michelle Branch’s “All You Wanted” again. Something about the smoothness of the vocals appeals to me. Maybe it is the harmony or the engineering. Of course I like this song because it was used in the promos for 24 during season 3 midway-through playing on the love story between Jack Bauer and Kate Warner.

I started thinking about times when I was greatly affected my television. I want to go back to those weeks where I was firmly in th grip of the producers, writers, actors and crew.

I think of 3/4s through season three of 24 when Kate Warner has been kidnapped along with a CTU agent. The agent is tortured as Kate watches. The terrorists put him out of his misery with a gunshot and his body falls lifeless, still strung up by shackles. The terrorists instruct their henchman to kill Kate when he gets done. They leave and Kate collapses to the ground exahusted with grief.

Or this past season [SPOILER ALERT!] when Jack demands a surgeon quit working on his girlfriend’s ex-husband to work on a Chinese dissident. He holds the OR hostage and the ex-husband goes into cardiac arrest and flatlines. That was traumatic. Then the Chinese dissident flatlines too. I think it is the theme of individuals confronting incredible hopelessness that speaks to me so deeply.

Or last night they had a documentary about some Jewish immigrants returning to their hometown of Hoya in Germany (I think) – not having been there since they were transported to a concentration camp during WWII. The woman was reluctant to go back but had never seen her father’s grave. She came to her family’s cemetry which was overgrown and the gravestones had aged and toppled. But a new stone had been installed in fresh marble marking the cemetery as her family’s – one of her neighbors had done this. She said she never though she could trust any non-Jewish German ever again but this moved her so deeply. Then they went to her father’s gravesite and someone had made him a gravestone to commerate his resting place. Deeply moving.

But back to non-fiction. I think of those few months when I was in the grip of Twin Peaks and spent many nights awake wondering just what it all means.

Or I miss seasons 6 and 7 of X-Files. The ones leading up to Gillian’s Golden Globe.

Or the Homicide episode with James Earl Jones where an estranged daughter visits her father for the first time in prison. I think I was actually moved to tears by that.

It is strange. Love stories don’t move me. I’ve always been about person versus society. The collapse of mores and the clawing for survival are so much more compelling than ‘You’re the best…’ and ‘No you’re the best…’.

If we’re going to get all Aristotelian – this is about tapping into the cathartic impetus. Though Aristotle wasn’t truly clear if the cartharsis was for the audience, the actor or the characters. Maybe it is all three at different times. When I see a character confronting the hopelessness of their existence, I am able to safely experience my own desolation through them. Though the Greeks made theatre an expression of their national and spiritual identity – not just an entertainment. I remember my theatre history prof telling us to consider that the Greeks asked a lot more of their theatre than we ever could. It was intertwined with their politics and identity. At the same time – if I am safely allowed to confront my own wasteland then I can also easily ease back into my usual trance. I think too much art doesn’t ask action.

I have spent the past few days writing affirmations in my journal. I used to pick a statement and write it 10 times each over and over again. I’m now doing more freewriting. More writing-as-meditation. I’ve said things I want before and they come to me a week or so later. So I’m experimenting with that. Maybe it is a mindjob – maybe it isn’t. I think aligning your first thoughts of the morning with your life’s trajectory can have big impact on your life.






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