Monday, May 22, 2006

Tragic Use of Tragedy.

The word tragedy is widely misunderstood and consequently misused.

I flash back to the first day of English 1XY from my days in college. Dr. Menninga told us to throw out our thesauruses. Why? Because while a thesaurus gives synonyms they often fail to impart the subtle differences in meaning.

Here is a thesaurus entry for tragedy. This thesaurus does a poor job of explaining tragedy. Tragedy in its pure sense is when something bad happens to someone due to their own weakness or bad judgment.
In order for the tragic hero to arouse these feelings in the audience, he cannot be either all good or all evil but must be someone the audience can identify with; however, if he is superior in some way(s), the tragic pleasure is intensified. His disastrous end results from a mistaken action, which in turn arises from a tragic flaw or from a tragic error in judgement. Often the tragic flaw is hubris, an excessive pride that causes the hero to ignore a divine warning or to break a moral law.
Source: Greek Theory of Tragedy: Aristotle's Poetics
Why do I bring this topic up? Because, for example many refer to 9/11 as a tragedy. By the understanding of tragedy I outline above, this is a further slam on our nation.

Some (and many) will point out that people do not use tragedy in this sense anymore and use it as a generic reference to an event filled with death and disaster. Well I agree to a certain point that most people use tragedy and catastrophe (disaster as well) synonymously but as a writer (however amateurish and hackish I may be) and a political activist I know words make a difference and I disagree with the difference the word tragedy makes.

Was Pearl Harbor a tragedy? In the common sense yes in the sense I outline above, no. However, according to the narrative of many on the left Pearl Harbor was every bit as much our fault as they believe 9/11 is also ours. They may deny it but Pat Buchanan makes use of Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to Pearl Harbor to show what happens when we start being the international actor we truly are. The arguments Mr. Buchanan makes in this affair sound very similar to what the left says.

This is very much in line with my struggle to take back the word liberal from those who are actually leftists not liberal. I try, at least I am doing that.