[PREV - ARISTOTLE_POETICS] [TOP]
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.
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:
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.
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