74 Comments
Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

No constructive comment here, just thank you Sir for such a sharp and interesting analysis !

This is so very true !!

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A great post. However, there are a few very popular video games that are tragic. The Last of Us being one. Hollywood is making it into a movie that will surely remove the tragedies.

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Red Dead Redemption and (quite old but a favorite) Planescape Torment also come to mind.

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I'm very late to this thread, but *Heavy Rain* (2010) probably qualifies as a tragedy, specifically with its twist ending. One of the four protagonists is destroyed by their hubris... and in the branching bad endings, so are the other three. Like everything else in this thread, it is not for the faint of heart (there's a scene where you have to cut one of the protagonists' fingers off, complete with voice acting), but the story sticks with you. I'm very impressed with the game's writing.

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I don’t know that game. I’ll look it up.

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Detention probably counts:

https://phys.org/news/2017-02-taiwan-white-terror-brought-life.html

But it's not an American game and the movie and TV show made from it are not Hollywood.

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Aug 16, 2022·edited Aug 16, 2022

Great example. The Last of Us 2 completes the tragedy of the first game in the opening sequences. It's brutal. And it's effects echo on through the rest of the game, leading to further tragedy with a small taste of half hope and redemption at the end... but certainly not happiness or a warm fuzzy ending. Which is probably why the game was panned by so many fans of the first game. Tragedy is uncomfortable.

Especially in a video game, where the player becomes the protagonist in a sense. They're granted agency, but only to play out the story as our protagonists would, mistakes and all.

They're a couple of the best games of the past decade in my opinion.

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I didn’t know that about The Last of Us 2. Sounds like they went for The Empire Strikes Back heart-hit. I have no aversion to tragedy. My work is filled with the tragic. But The Last of Us destroyed me.

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Notably, the first sentence of Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover:

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.

My favoured example of human continuity has always been that we can read the Greek tragedies in any era and they remain meaningful and pertinent.

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Well said, T. If I may:

"The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow their soul, rendering it capable of turning to good."

-Andrei Tarkovsky

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Aug 13, 2022·edited Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Wow! Very perceptive ideas here. As for the word "hubris" rarely being spoken, I think our blindness to a deeper underlying concept makes many people oblivious to this powerful idea.

There is a personal viewpoint–and a global viewpoint about almost everything. As I often quipped to my students when trying to gently hint they they might be exhibiting just a wee bit of hubris: "well, I went to a funeral the other day, slipped and turned my ankle, and it lent a somber air to the entire occasion." Perhaps I should have said "tragic?"

This when their "websites" constituted an autobiography written at age 19 (" . . . give it a little time to cook, please!"). Or when they tried to better Z.Z. Top's music using their DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations.) " . . . Uh, why are you doing that? There are a slew of bands who have already done something like that–and far better!" And so forth, on and on.

Tom Powers wrote a beautiful essay for Ms. Magazine titled "Can Friendship Survive Success?" that addressed the hubris of what he called something like " . . . the secret self." He wrote: "At some point in his life almost every man has to recognize that he is not the central character in a drama of general interest, that there is nothing special about him, that his life is purely private."

Privacy is a fiction. Internet, hubris is thy name. Anybody want to share your favorite chili recipe?

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Aug 15, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Really strange times now everywhere, I'm very thankful for this wonderful short blog post, it opened my eyes that everybody seems to see a tragedy, but the solution is nowhere to find :(

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

That defining quality of our time, where everyone believes they have all the answers, never ceases to amaze me. Why should anyone believe they've got all the answers? What's so wrong with not knowing something? It's the essence of learning when you recognize you might not be well versed in something and then proceed to examine and learn about it. I think listening has become a lost art and people need to cram all their ill-conceived "knowledge" into any slight crevice in conversation.

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I think it may have to do with that tragic Asian mindset; loss of face. If you don't know something, you lose face, so you lie, which is acceptable, rather than lose face and, by extension, your family loses face and standing in their community of relatives and friends.

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Great thinking, as always. I give proper respect to your seriousness of purpose here and will meditate on your conclusions--but I'd also like to mention that this line made me laugh out loud.

"Viewed in the proper light, influencer is a career path of tragic dimensions."

As far as truthful absurdities go, it's a knockout line.

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I agree completely. One of my hobbies is songwriting and it is commonly known that upbeat, happy songs are what artists and publishers are looking for. I am reminded of the anecdote about when unsigned artist Stevie Ray Vaughn did a showcase for the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger said that Vaughn was very good, but, "Everyone knows that the blues is dead".

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Aug 14, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Thanks for this fine meditation. I will use it as a discussion starter in my "Phil and Lit" class this term.

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

As soon as I read the first graf I asked myself if Ted had been in that Steiner class with me. It was an amazing course. Steiner would come in, close the door, turn and just start talking, no notes, and continue talking for the entire class, a man possessed, with a photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge (a samizdat rewriting of Oresteia, an oral tradition still maintained in the mountains of Carpathia, etc.).

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Brilliant insights. Much to ponder. I am retired clergy and I'm thinking that if I were still preaching these thoughts would probably influence a sermon along the way.

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Nicely observed and stated. Gracias Maestro! FWIW, Camille Paglia wrote an astonishingly prescient essay along related lines in the mid-90s (“Diana Regina”), concluding on a chilling note that foretold, in an allusive way, her subject’s demise. For anyone who doubts the lingering and powerful influence of the ancient verities, I’d recommend her tome - and yours.

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I’m writing about the “tragic imagination” and I have some accord with this, however I also have further critique. Though I expand my concept of the tragic, when I looked back to the history of the plays/vibe. Makes me excited to share a piece. Glad to have this on a similar plane.

I super agree there’s no space for tragedy and it’s weird. I just think tragedy encompasses more fundamental lack, weakness, or catastrophe, as well as the flawed/self thing you focus on here

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Aug 15, 2022·edited Aug 16, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

My take on online "influencers": I remember when people wanted to be famous for achieving something or doing something. A world in which so many people want to be famous for simply "being famous" seems awfully tragic to me. An era where people simply must post about such inane things as how long the line at Starbuck's is at that moment--as though that was so incredibly important to everyone that the world truly needs to about all know it--seems immensely self centered to me. I realize everybody is the star of their own life, but too many nowadays seem to think they are the most important thing in everybody else's life too--as though the universe revolves around them. Has sociopathy become our new norm, I wonder? That would surely be a very tragic thing if true, wouldn't it? As always, thanks for your extraordinary insights. You do get me thinking about things I wouldn't normally consider and I appreciate that very, very much.

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Aug 14, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Great post, loved it

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