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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: October ::
Re: Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2163  Wednesday, 30 October 2002

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 08:44:53 -0800
        Subj:   Re: Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Dave Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 23:49:50 -0600
        Subj:   Re: Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 08:44:53 -0800
Subject: 13.2153 Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2153 Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent
Shakespeare

This is not an answer to the question, but a clarification of this
comment:

>I believe only tragedy is discussed, comedic work not extant or some such

A fragment of Aristotle's treatise on comedy does exist.  I have read
it, but no longer have the book, and don't want to trust my memory for
details. The translation with a long introduction is available here:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0872200337/qid%3D1035909366/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/103-7700853-1178230

Note that a portion of it is reconstructed.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dave Kathman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 23:49:50 -0600
Subject: 13.2153 Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2153 Poetics Comedy Et cetera. 10 Percent
Shakespeare

H. R. Greenberg wrote:

>I am writing a review of the Larry David show and Paul Schrader's new
>film AUTO FOCUS, addressing the empathic response of wincing
>embarrassment common to both works. I need to know 1) if Aristotle
>addressed this issue in the POETICS -- haven't read it for many years,
>and I believe only tragedy is discussed, comedic work not extant or some
>such and 2) if any lit crit work has been done on this sort of empathy
>with a character who is unknowing, utterly maladroit, and elicits in us
>a kind of yeasty meld of anxiety, shame, embarrassment, cringing by
>proxy, et cetera. Sort of thing where you shout at the screen or stage
>in your mind: "O God, don't do it...please..." Fawlty Towers is
>exemplary in this fashion.
>
>Your help greatly appreciated. I wouldn't doubt that somewhere in
>Shakespeare scholarship, the issue has been addressed, Malvolio
>springing to mind immediately.
>
>I think one does not experience the kind of empathic pity for such
>characters noted in high tragedy's response, certainly not terror, but >a great deal of awe about their sheer unknowingness and the trouble >they make for themselves or others there from.

You might want to look at the collection *Seinfeld and Philosophy*,
edited by William Irwin.  The TV show *Seinfeld* (of which Larry David
was co-creator) contained much of the sort of wince-inducing behavior
that you're describing, and the essays in this collection, all written
by professional philosophers, examine that behavior from a lot of
different perspectives.  Larry David's *Curb Your Enthusiasm* (which I
assume is the show you're reviewing) ratchets up the "wince factor" by
an order of magnitude from what it was on Seinfeld, which makes the show
simultaneously fascinating and hard to watch, for me anyway.

Dave Kathman

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