Ashley Etemadi

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Tragedy in the Philosophies of Nietzsche and Aristotle

    Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and Aristotle’s Poetics offer different examinations of tragedy as the highest form of art in the Hellenic tradition. Perform a comparative analysis of the philosophers’ conceptions of the tragic form. Where do they locate the origin of tragedy? What do they identify as the most important parts of tragedy? What are the psychological and social implications of tragedy for civilization? Why do they praise it? What is the role of tragedy and art in the greater collective consciousness? These questions and more allow for an in depth understanding of the philosophers’ respective theories of tragedy, and how the tragic form functions in relation to the individual and his culture. Take it further and draw the analysis to present day. What can tragedy offer us today, in the age of information, digital culture, and globalization? How can we use the theoretical work of Nietzsche and Aristotle to benefit our artistic production?

    • Very unique, theoretical paper! – Jason052714 8 years ago
    • I hope the philosophers in our midst pick up this topic. I would love to read about how philosophies from another century can relate to the context and creativity today. – Munjeera 8 years ago
    • I have to disagree with Jason on this one; there have been literally hundreds of books written on precisely this topic. Every aesthetic philosopher worth their salt has grappled with the nature of tragedy - since they owe the debt to Aristotle as the pre-Kantian father of their field - and has made a point of reading and building upon every thinker to grapple with the subject since, including (but by no means limited to) Seneca, Hume, Diderot, Schlegel, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Freud, Benjamin, and Walter Kauffman. Furthermore, there's an entirely separate domain of literary and dramatic criticism (that being my field) which has dealt with the subject perhaps even more extensively, including the likes of Goethe, Wagner, Bernard Shaw, Brander Matthews, Allardyce Nicoll, George Jean Nathan, Francis Fergusson, A.C. Bradley, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Eric Bentley, F.L. Lucas, George Steiner, Arthur Miller, Lionel Abel, Raymond Williams, Robert Corrigan, J.L. Styan, A.D. Nuttall, Richard B. Sewall, Virgil Geddes, Richard Kuhns, John Orr, and Howard Barker (just to name the first few to come to mind). I don't believe there has been a single scholar writing on the subject of tragedy since the turn of the twentieth century who has neglected to note and compare the visions and contributions of Aristotle and Nietzsche. Perhaps this would be a unique theoretical paper on this particular online platform, but I have a special request for anyone who is considering writing it: read at least four books by any of the authors listed above. If, after that, you still think you have anything to add, then by all means, go ahead. I will admit that your point near the end, regarding "the age of information, digital culture, and globalization" may be a somewhat fresher take - one that Hegel, Goethe, and Matthews were too early to comment upon - but that calls for an entirely different article that the one that the rest of your topic appears to be pitching. My two cents would be to re-frame the article to the effect of "Tragedy in the Twenty-First Century," to which the discussion will require reflections upon Aristotle and Nietzsche (if the author is worth his/her salt), but should emphasize what tragedy and the tragic mean to us today, rather than what they meant in 335 BCE vs. 1872 CE (which, again, has been well documented). – ProtoCanon 8 years ago
    • Great topic. Analyzing modern tragedies in this way is not just interesting, but enlightening. – Tigey 8 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Thank you so much for this article. I grew up reading Harry Potter and this insightful analysis using psycho-developmental theory makes me buzz with joy. I think it’s important you bring up the how Harry de-idolizes his father after witnessing Snape’s memory. Harry had to do the same thing with Dumbledore, a strong father figure throughout the series. Also, the explanation of the horcruxes representing Voldemort’s dispersed identity makes perfect sense in light of things. Harry throughout the series is forming his sense of self, coming to a whole. When he arrives at a concrete, personal identity, Voldemort is at his most fragmented. Harry comes full circle, returning to the scene of trauma where his parents were murdered nearly two decades ago, and reenacts the primal scene. Now I want to further explore a Freudian analysis of Harry Potter!

    Harry Potter and the Journey of Identity Formation

    Interesting piece. You mentioned more than once that the dystopian worlds not only threaten the livelihood of the protagonists, but prevent them from exercising personal freedom and individuality. I have noticed that dystopian landscapes, from those created by Orwell to those of Collins, characteristically suppress individual identity and chip away at the “I” in favor of a collective herd to be directed and controlled. So if we can accept that this is an important part of dystopian literature, we can understand why young adults are intrigued by this genre. Adolescence functions as the period of time where the individual self comes into formation out of growth, pain, and learning. Young persons are often searching for and constructing a personal identity based off of subjective experiences and desires, but an identity that can survive and thrive within sociocultural boundaries and expectations. Thus, when institutions of power in dystopian worlds attempt to dissolve and forget the individual self, the youths take up in arms, because it’s much easier to lose yourself when you are still in the process of becoming.

    The Rising Popularity of Dystopian Literature

    Thought provoking piece! As an undergraduate studying literature and critical theory, I have always believed that film and literary criticism share a space in cultural production. It is important to understand that a film – like a novel or any other narrative-based work – is a complex system made up of dynamic and interactive parts. Successful critical analysis then ought to investigate film on multiple levels. A critic should approach a movie with the intent to deconstruct the engineered story and examine the parts, and the whole, within the film medium. I think the ultimate challenge of journalistic film criticism is to conduct such an analysis in a review that the general population will be able to access and appreciate. The internet age has raised complicated questions, however. As you addressed in this piece, how can one differentiate between legitimate film criticism and the myriad online reviews/movie blogs dispersed throughout the web? What separates the two, and who decides why one is awarded more worth than the other? What does the value of criticism say about art itself? These are big questions with no answers. I personally support all forms of academic and intellectual critique. What’s the point of life if you’re not being critical?

    I also wanted to comment on the examination of the relationship between film advertisement and reviews. I feel a little bit confused about your argument connecting critics and ads. Maybe for a follow up article, you can utilize the New York Magazine’s “Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations” device to further explore the interaction between promotion, reviews, and audience satisfaction.

    The Glaring Importance of Critics in Filmmaking