English 300 - Fall 2004

This is my class journal for Professor Sexson's Critical Theory class.


Copying Violence

How does Aristotle provied opposition to Plato's saying that if you see violence in plays you will copy it?

Aristotle says that people are drawn to such DEPICTIONS even if what the thing is that is being depicted is not so pretty. But that does not make us like the ACTUAL thing!

People seem to want to experience bad stuff as well as good--but what is harmful to the self is more favourably experienced vicariously. This is why people like to watch violent stuff but not necessarily go copy it. I mean there are always exceptions, but for the most part.

I don't really know what else to say about this. I mean as Nietzsche would say, suffering is one of the highest experiences. But as great as it is, it still sucks to have to go through. So if people can suffer without really suffering, they're kind of getting the best of both worlds.


Blogger bjohnsrud said...


I think that is interesting what you said about "suffering without actually suffering". Do you think that is possible? Do you think sympathy can ever be as powerful as empathy?

27 September 2004 at 17:29  
Blogger jaimie hensley said...

No way!! This vicarious suffering is kind of just a diluted, artificial emotion. It makes people THINK they've experienced something like the real thing, and it's a lot easier and less painful that way. But for that very reason, it can never compare to the actual emotion/experience. It's just a tiny fraction thereof, and it might even be a distorted fraction at that.

So there's my opinion on that. :)

29 September 2004 at 17:05  
Blogger bjohnsrud said...

So, can we then rely on art as a source of knowledge if, at best, it is a warped representation of true emotion? Can we experience pain in art and trust that it is anywhere near real pain?

29 September 2004 at 22:26  
Blogger jaimie hensley said...

Hmm.... Well art is a representation, someone's interpretation of an emotion (or a creation of something beyond emotion). Everyone's experience with this piece of art will be different. So it may be near the real pain, but it can never be the EXACT emotion. I don't think it's as much the ART that is warped, but when someone interprets the art, his interpretation will most likely not be exactly what the artist was feeling. So it is more the interpretation that is likely to be skewed.

The art cannot be the real thing, but it 1) invokes emotions similar to the real thing and/or 2) is something entirely new in itself.

This probably wasn't very well-formulated....

30 September 2004 at 17:05  

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