Comedy and Tragedy on Da-da's Main Stage

Some artist's idea of Homer. If you rubbed his nose, he told you a story.

Hello, and welcome to rambling long-form Post #1464! Great to be here. Onward.

Few of you know -- how could you? -- that Da-da was unlucky enough to endure benefit from an extensive education in not only Science and Technology, but also the Classics and Humanities, History in general -- and about a zillion other subjects. Such books always seemed to be inside Da-da's cage.

Believe it or not, this curriculum mirrors what's happening today, but with less wigs and robes and more unprotected sex, and also shows you how long it took Da-da to get out of college; however, in terms of blood and cruelty, we seem to have exceeded our ancient counterparts, we just hide it better. 

Misinterpretation of the Ancient Greek Chorus brought you: OPERA! If you're into that kinda thing.

The Players

Ah, Classics and Humanities: they makes the average hominid's eyes turn to opaque glass. But wait! Bright shiny thing!

The Humanities are, "The Best-of the Human Race," if that's possible, which includes: Art, Literature, Philosophy, World Religion, History, Theater History, Archaeology, Languages, etc. Wait... Theater History? Yup. Waitforit.

The Classics explore the earliest complete writings from Ancient Greece and Rome, on through their re-discovery and interpretation from the Middle Ages to The Renaissance to doric fast food joints all over North Hollywood, encompassing a bunch of other epochs that are making your eyes glaze over again.

Best of all were, The NAKED MAGICIANS.

Ok, maybe they were half-naked, but they definitely all drove convertibles.

The Set Up

Ok, ok, there were precious few naked magicians around back then, kinda like now, but their mere suggestion crazed your eye-glaze enough to move forward, if just a little.

The Ancient Greeks, who were fervent admirers of ancient poetry (some was ancient even to them) -- and who, like many ancients, were barefoot and naked quite a lot -- invented theater to give poetry a bit more to do. This of course gave poets the chance to ham it up something awful (awful being the key word), which they did more and more until someone finally said, "Do that over THERE."

Thus, was theater born.

This form of nascent-theater was championed by a nabob named, "Thespis," an (over)actor of the day. He was such an (over)actor that to this day his name is the root of, "thespian," meaning, "(over)actor." Thespis would no doubt be thrilled.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans would've loved Freud. Or killed him. One of those.

The Hook

As far as we know, the Ancient Greeks invented everything about theater: the stage, the scene/backdrop, the players, overpriced snacks, wrestling masks, booing... all the things that are still used to illustrate reality's delicious allegory that people still miss today, regardless of whether or not their seats are any good.

The Greeks also invented Comedy and Tragedy. Ancient "comedy" was simply a story that ended well, or happily ever after"; it wasn't necessarily funny, mostly because Steve Martin hadn't been invented yet. Ancient "tragedy," predictably, ended tragically.

With tragedy, there is no neat, hopeful ending. Ever. Everybody dies and stays dead, while the remaining cast -- the chorus -- mills about group-saying, "Thus: They Die. And you will, too, you NAKED PRE-DEAD PEOPLE shivering in tragically thin robes." Remember: theater was invented for the purpose of (over)acting.

O tragedy.

The Tale

The first Ancient Greek play was a tragedy entitled, "The Rape/Sack of Miletus," or, "The Capture/Fall of Miletus," depending on which translator was drinking what. This notorious play -- which was burned immediately afterwards -- rehashed the recent fall of the Greek city of Miletus, an event fresh in the minds of those in the audience.

The play was so devastating that the playwright, Phrynichus, was banished from Athens, all copies of the play burned, and a near-naked mob turned into the streets in an uproar. That's some play. If that happened today, people would brag about it:
Dude #1: "Dude, I got banished for that play, you know."
Dude #2: "Whoa!"
Dude #3: "No way!"
Dude #1: "Way. They burned all the copies. AND THEY WERE ALL NAKED."
Dude #2: "Awesome."
Dude #3: "The copies or the audience?"

Yorick? Santa? M. Emmet Walsh? ANYBODY know where Da-da's going with this?

The Wire

Da-da's not here to give you an education in ancient theater, he's here to draw parallels; Da-da's a generalist and can spot a parallel across a zillion light years of strip mall parking lot. (They're often scratched onto the hide of some dusty mammoth that's really NAKED beneath all that hair. Disgusting.) Meanwhile, back at Tragedy's Ranch...

Since all movies today HAVE to be comedies -- that is, end well, or they make no money -- our tragedies come in the form of news.

Media outlets drip with tragedy, where a neat, hopeful ending can nary be found.

The new iHelmet. Yay.

The Shut Out

Thing is, our media postmodern performance goes on and on and on with no stop, no catharsis, depositing layer after layer of tension and fear and future-promise inanity until we're all numb.

Today's media rarely offers the opportunity to take a step back and reflect, failing to augment your own life for the better with what you've learned before the next Prime Time Tragedy/Cautionary Tale barrels into your sensorium.

Of course, the world is designed to be this way, so you're confused and vulnerable and brainwashed into an endless buying cycle. But you don't have to be an actor in the dumb show, a continuous Society of Spectacle spectator/schadenfreude victim of endlessly looping tragedy.

The Sting

But wait! Your tragedy is actually a comedy! And EVERYONE'S NAKED.

Try this: take a step back from the media one day a week -- or more, if you can. Turn off the computer. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Don't read your email. Don't Twabble. Don't read magazines or newspapers. And for God's sake, STOP READING BLOGS. What a waste of time.

Believe it or not, watching, reading or listening to all this crap is like hitting yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer over and over again: it feels really good when you stop.

So, unplug for a while. Sit in the sun. Read an actual physical door-stopping book. Enjoy a comedy. Life is, after all, a comedy, in both the ancient and very real modern sense.

Oh, and Sting's real name is Gordon Sumner. Like all good comedies, it always needs to end with a near-NAKED Sting.

Ew. Jeez, dude. You can tell wardrobe, "NO" you know.


alanborky said...

You do realise don't you Da-da if this blog succeeds in its purpose it'll prove blogs're good for you therebye defeating its purpose?

Otherwise I thoroughly concur.

A Man Called Da-da said...

Damn. Da-da must delete this post at once and post more sour cats wearing party hats.

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