[lit-ideas] How Can I Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 08:05:35 EST

"I started to explore when I hit a wrong button 
and posted my note  before I was ready to send it, namely the morality of 
movies that  present despicable matters as being somehow acceptable, easing 
frog-viewers into the water of evil and slowly bringing it to a boil.   They 
describe an anecdote about the writer of Silence of the Lambs who took  the 
story to someone who rejected it.  Years later after it had won  several 
the writer saw this guy again and the guy said he would have  rejected 
of the Lambs all over again because movies like that should  not be made.  
writer and director of Mr Brooks are therefore aware  of that point of view, 
they don’t do any more than mention it before  moving on."

I had (and still have) two points, and I'm using this essay by Colin  
Radford, in "Aesthetics and the philosophy of art: the analytic tradition", an  
anthology, ed. by Lamarque and Olsen (Blackwell, paperback).
I have not read it in detail, but as I recall, Colin Radford's point is  that 
it is _rational_ to be moved by a 'real' Anna Karenina and her _real_ fate;  
not by a string of Russian sentences!
(I tend to agree -- we seem to like to be moved by what Brad Bitt and Kate  
Blanchet have to undergo as they travel in Iraq, or Iran, I forget -- she gets  
killed by a guerilla -- but we are _not_ so moved (because we don't have the  
close up?) when we see that in 8.00 newsprogram). (I'm using 'we'  
--- So that's ONE point. It seems that ARTISTS have felt the moral  
obligation to impose on us immoral subjects in such a contrived way, that they  
opaque our reaction to real-life moral dilemmas. You hear of the matricide  of 
Oedipus and find it sublime and cathartic, but if your next neighbour kills  
her stepmother after bearing her a child, he's bound to the asylum.
The two points connects, as the second has to do with the ARTIST's freedom  
in creating a truly nastic character. For some reason, literary theory doesn't  
like them -- and I'm not a Shakespeare expert, but even OTHELLO seems to have 
a  good side to it. And if Othello is just the representation of an 
'exemplar' VICE  (i.e. all warts) that's pretty immoral too. Why did 
Theophrastus cared 
to write  his boring CHARACTERS all about vices, but none about virtues. 
Geary will bring  an air-conditioning argument here.
So, I think, alla Plato, art has too privileged a place in our  civilisation. 
It allows to get us swallow nasty beasty evil, and -- even  sympathise with 
them, "Why, they are the topic of a film; look again Virginia,  there must be 
some _good_ in it"). _AND_ they blind our eyes to real-life  phenomena as 
second-rate, not so glamourous, and where a real reaction, genuine  reaction 
us, is all that may be needed to make this a better world worth  living for...
J. L. Speranza
   Buenos Aires, Argentina

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