So much depends on context, timing and circumstance. This idea of purgation, in its various forms, is what we usually mean when we call something cathartic. Aristotle called this kind of experience catharsis - when literature provides strong emotional experiences that ultimately result in a sense of purification. You have witnessed horrible things and felt painful feelings, but the mark of tragedy is that it brings you out the other side. Imagine a well written, well made play or movie that depicts the losing struggle of a likable central character. At the end of the Iliad, as at the end of every tragedy, we are washed in the beauty of the human image, which our pity and our fear have brought to sight. If you work with trauma victims, you know what I mean.
Obviously, abusing others with one's anger is destructive and counterproductive. There is a chain of effects from Gloucester's adultery to his mutilation, but it is not a sequence that reveals the true cause of that horror. But there is also perception of common sensibles, available to more than one of our senses, as shape is grasped by both sight and touch, or number by all five senses; these are distinguished by imagination, the power in us that is shared by the five senses, and in which the circular shape, for instance, is not dependent on sight or touch alone. Art Markman's recent posting on the nature of and catharsis raises significant questions about how to best deal with anger--both in and out of. I have read your post as well as the post by Markman and find that both of you have some points well taken and some that seem out of sync with the type of counseling experiences I have had in my practice. Tragedy is never about flaws, and it is only the silliest of mistranslations that puts that claim in Aristotle's mouth.
Traditionally, catharsis in literature has taken on one of three varieties: purgation, purification or clarification. We are in the power of another for awhile, the sight of an illusion works real and durable changes in us, we merge into something rich and strange, and what we find by being absorbed in the image of another is ourselves. Yet we never feel desolation at the end of a tragedy, because what is lost is also, by the very same means, found. All his old longings for glory and revenge fall away, since they have no place in the sight in which he is now absorbed. Cathartic Sacrifice In early cults, the distinction between sacred and unclean is far from complete or well defined see ; consequently we find two types of cathartic sacrifice: one to cleanse of impurity and make fit for common use, another to rid of sanctity and in like manner render suitable for human use or intercourse.
His beloved Homer saw and achieved the most important possibilities of the imitation of human action, but it was the tragedians who, refined and intensified the form of that imitation, and discovered its perfection. The term catharsis derives from the Greek katharsis, which in turn stems from the root kathairein, meaning to clean or purify. First of all, I'm aware of the Greek origin of the word. The mind is a huge warehouse of experience. Catharsis is also an emotional release associated with talking about the underlying causes of a problem it was first mentioned by Aristotle: catharsis associated with audience watching tragic plays Religion Another meaning under the heading of 'purging' can concern body and soul— in religion, it concerns efforts made to come to terms with guilt and sin, as by such as by in modern use of that word, the meaning of punishment has taken over from the original sense of purification , such as practiced by ; a testimony to the age of this use is the very name of the a medieval sect. SilentBlue It is interesting to note that Freud, who studied and used the story of Oedipus the King in catharsis and libido studies, was studying the phenomena of emotion and feeling in his work, and uses the mixed life and death urges to explain the human psyche.
Catharsis and Romanticism Romanticism was a literary movement which began in the late 18th century, focused on the unfettered expression of emotion. If you got angry at the villain during a play, then perhaps you won't feel as angry at your husband that night. . I see persons who do this as unskilled, self-absorbed, immature and totally lacking in regard for the person on the receiving end. The Romantic movement included poets and novelists alike, including William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and John Keates. Aristotle does understand tragedy as a development out of the child's mimicry of animal noises, but that is in the same way that he understands philosophy as a development out of our enjoyment of sight-seeing Metaphysics I, 1. But in order to be truly cathartic, the patient must experience--or re-experience--these emotions as profoundly as possible rather than just physically expressing or rationally discussing them.
And if we did not feel that they were genuine individuals, they would have no power to engage our emotions. One of the most famous examples of catharsis in literature is. Oedipus or Antigone or Lear or Othello is somehow every one of us, only more so. There is a time for fight as well as for flight. As with fear, this purgation too may be either medicinal or drug-like.
But the English word catharsis does not contain everything that is in the Greek word. This is a practical purpose that drama may also serve, but it has no particular connection with beauty or truth; to be good in this purgative way, a drama has no need to be good in any other way. First, let me say that there is a very good reason for the numerous metaphors we apply to the misunderstood phenomenon of anger: They describe quite accurately and phenomenologically the subjective and objective experience of anger as a highly volatile emotion that can, depending on how we manage it, build over time, reach a crescendo, and eventually explode. Likewise, he understands the recognition of a special and powerful form of drama built around pity and fear as the beginning of an inquiry, and spends not one word justifying that restriction. So the mere phrase imitation of an action is packed with meaning, available to us as soon as we ask what an action is, and how the image of such a thing might be perceived. The humor allows for the purging of the frustrations and limitations of adolescence without having to actually be kicked out school for the fourth time. They see the beauty in two men who have lost almost everything.
When the tragic figure is destroyed it is a piece of ourselves that is lost. Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet are some of his best-known examples. Aristotle begins by saying that tragedy arouses pity and fear in such a way as to culminate in a cleansing of those passions, the famous catharsis. The whole board here is full of control freaks. This is exactly what a tragedy does to us, and exactly what we experience in looking at Achilles.
At least I finished in my mind the significant past leaving each event to be able to continue 'in vivo' in the future. For those of us who are older, the tear-jerker may have more appeal, offering a way to purge the regrets of our lives in a sentimental outpouring of pity. Though some seem to have started resorting to such primitive behaviors. The adjective cathartic entered English with a meaning descriptive of such a physically cleansing purge. If no one had the power to imitate action, life might just wash over us without leaving any trace.
To work on the level of feeling, though, justice must be understood as the exact inverse of the crime--doing to the offender the sort of thing he did or meant to do to others. Sentimentality is inordinate feeling, feeling that goes beyond the source that gives rise to it. Sophocles is not training my feelings, but using them to show me something worthy of wonder. In each of these developments there is a vast array of possible intermediate stages, but just as philosophy is the ultimate form of the innate desire to know, tragedy is considered by Aristotle the ultimate form of our innate delight in imitation. There were thirty years worth, I missed a significant part that didn't hit me til ten years later that caused me some tragic regret. While Aristotle was speaking specifically about catharsis and theater, we know that all types of art can make us feel deeply, from Shakespeare's tragedies to blockbuster movies to the vivid paintings of Marc Rothko. Achilles had been pitying Patroclus, but mainly himself, but the feeling to which Priam has directed him now is exactly the same as tragic pity.