July 30 - October 9, 2018

Reading through Aristotle's
"Poetics" is an unchallenging,            And actually, some years ago I
familiar, experience.  At each            evidently read The Poetics very
point, I take note of the original        carefully-- my Dover edition
source of ideas I've long since           bristles with colored tabs--
internalized and been applying or         though at present I don't even
trying to apply most of my life.          remember reading it back then.

   ARISTOTELIAN_LINES                                                TABS

But doesn't that raise a question: is this
stuff right?  How would you know?
How could you check whether Aristotle's
rules of dramatics are correct?

Let's say I try to apply Aristotle's own
method of introspective viewing (combined        ARISTOTELIAN_METHOD
with a touch of elitest snobbery, which I
can usually manage):

When I come across an absurd coincidence
that's a gross violation of probability
and necessity...  I roll my eyes,
grimace, it throws me off from any
appreciation of the story--

But is that reaction inherent in human
nature, or is it the result of being so
familiar with the Aristotelian rules?

    If I ignore the problem, I may
    find I get used to the ridiculous      The second time through (if any)
    element, and find I can just go        I'm unlikely to feel the same
    with it and appreciate whatever        aggravation-- the stupidity no
    else is there in the story.            longer takes by surprise, it
                                           receeds into the premise of the
    There's one place where we all         story...
    (Aristotle included) ignore the
    rule against the improbable: at
    the outset of the story.
    There's a very similar effect
    with examples of "genre"
    fiction, where you may treat an
    improbable element as part of
    its premise.                           Audience expectations
                                           are everything, and
       The detective goes goes on          there are entire popular
       vacation and happens to             genres based on absurd,
       stumble across yet-another          unlikely premises.
       corpse, killed under strange           
       (and strangely curtailed)              Could it be that all of 
       circumstances.                         western literature is 
                                              essentially one genre:
                                              Aristotlian Fiction?
Another method would be to try
doing studies of audience                 
reaction, but it could easily be                                          
that the audience's attitudes are      Aristotle was not quite a believer 
just yet another reflection of         in popularity alone being the true    
Aristotle.  It's possible that         measure of greatness, but we might    
some other hypothetical audience       or might not choose not to follow    
might not have been corrupted by       him on that.                         
Aristotle's influence, and might                
feel differently about the             
allowed narrative structures.          
      One might look at non-WEIRD                                                                            
      situations, e.g. the strange       Another example: the Arabian Nights stories.                        
      case of the Korean drama.