Wednesday, December 28, 2011

fifteenth night

do you remember your first tragedy? the first tragedy you read? it was probably hamlet. everyone dies. that's how most things end in real life: everyone dies eventually.
yesterday, the story ended in a deus ex machina. a god out of the machine. let's look at that some more, shall we? 
the deus ex machina came about from ancient greek plays where the "gods" were often lowered onto the stage via an apparatus. a literal god from a literal machine. but over time, it has come to mean anything that appears out of nowhere at the end of a story to resolve it. in the euripedes play iphigeneia, iphigeneia finally accepts her role to be sacrified...and is replaced at the last minute with a pig. in the threepenny opera, just as macheath is about to be hanged, the queen's messenger appears to pardon and knight macheath. in the bad seed, rhonda gets away with murder, only to be struck by lightning. 
this is not only bad writing, it's completely unrealistic. lightning does not just hit murderers. innocent men get executed (although, if we're being technical here, macheath is not innocent and is, in fact, a murderer). and people die. that is the way of life. 
i remember the first tragedy i read. it was king lear. everybody died. even the main characters, even cordelia, whom i identified with, died. i cried so hard. "howl, howl, howl, howl! o! you are men of stones: / had i your tongues and eyes, i'd use them so / that heaven's vaults should crack. -- she's gone for ever! -- / i know when one is dead, and when one lives; / she's dead as earth."

"i know when one is dead, and when one lives." my brother is dead. i live.

but this is a tragedy. in a tragedy, everyone dies.



  1. do take heed. not everyone dies. only the main characters.

    the real question is, are you the lead?

  2. everyone is the lead in their own stories.

    and not just the leads die in hamlet. remember: rosencrantz and guildenstern die, too.

  3. In *life* everyone dies. It's just a matter of how long it takes.

    Besides if I recall my Shakespeare correctly only the plays that had names in the title were tragedies. This production has no names in the title last I looked.

  4. yes, but you forget, horatio does live

    but, as is his price for living, he is tasked to tell the tale.

    there is place in tragedy for the tale-teller. for what is a tragedy without a warning?

  5. What are we counting anyway? Days on the run?

  6. i am counting the twelve days of christmas. on the twelfth night is the feast of fools when the world turns upside-down and i shall turn around and face my fears.

    i suspect on that night, i shall die.

  7. I'm sure you have at least 986 more nights left in you.

  8. Everyone dies in the end.

    Sometimes, the stories are cut short. The endings are never told, and the readers are left to theorize their own, to mourn and think what might have happened if only they carried on just a *bit* longer.

    Hopefully, this does not happen to you.