Sunday, January 15, 2012
Love, touchdowns and good writing
Warning: Pedantry follows.
Catharsis derives from the Greek word kathairein, meaning to purge, purify or clean. Aristotle used it first in a clinical sense, to describe effects of certain actions on the human body, and then later applied it metaphorically to drama and poetry. Being a $64 word, chances are more people have experienced it than have accessed the word to define the experience.
Warning: Tortured metaphor follows.
Catharsis is like a cheeseburger - it comes in many varieties, and you can have it your way. It's found in your direct, personal experience - when you are the one touching something universal - and vicariously, even in seeing that moment re-enacted in fiction - and your heart leaps up.
We seek it out on stages, on playing fields, in temples, in therapy. A moment of transcendence when you believe - not just know, but believe - "I am not alone." "Love conquers." "Life is terribly beautiful/painful/silly and we all know it." "There is justice." "There is meaning." It's oxygen for the soul.
Have some, it's good.