Wednesday, September 29, 2010
While reading Augustus's "Confessions," I noticed that he discussed how people enjoy watching others suffer. He writes, "Yet the spectator does want to feel sorrow, and it is actually his feeling of sorrow that he enjoys." (page 909) I thought this was an interesting and somewhat accurate observation of humankind. Augustus asserts that if a spectator cries because of a tragedy, he is satisfied and believes the show was effective, whereas if no emotion is evoked, he is left feeling disappointed. I think, to a certain extent, that Augustus's observation holds true today. For example, dramatic movies and plays that evoke emotion are usually regarded as better than those that do not. This ties into Aristotle's definition of tragedy as a genre that must elicit pity and fear from the audience, as well as generate a catharsis. Augustus comments on pity and fear in his "Confessions" as well: "Now when a man suffers himself it is called misery; when he suffers in the suffering of another, it is called pity."