Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skip to the End

     As a heads up, this post is kind of a stretch. Think Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. Kinda like that, I guess. It will make sense but only if you make a couple key stretches in logic and accept that this is being done because I chose one question to track. They couldn't all perfectly answer the question, there were goign to be some duds.
     And thus is the case with Sophocles's Oedipus Rex. Oedipus Rex, the story of a man who kills his father, marries his mother, and then gauges out his eyes opun the realization (truly the epitome of the American Dream). The work doesn't have a lot of in story stuff about stories and their role in society, but it has a little so i'll go off of that for starters.
     Tireseas comes to Oedipus and tells him the truth of his past. Oedipus refuses to believe it but in a fantastic bit of dramatic irony, the audience does. In a way Tireseas is a surrogate for both Sophocles and the audience. He's telling Oedipus the ending of the story he plays the role of hero in. It could be argued on an entirely meta level that Oedipus's story is fated to end in tragedy simply because that's the way the story is written. The author has painstakingly crafted a situation that his hero is bound to fall prey to. Tireseas attempts to warn Oedipus of how the story ends but fails.
     And what does any of this have to do with real world applications?
     Well it kind of doesn't. Mb on that one. (in my own brain, "mb" is slang for "my bad" though I can't seem to get it to catch on. But suppose every life is a story. It has a begining a middle and an end. Some are tragic, some are funny, and some are just run of the mil boring everyday lives. But let's say for argument's sake that each one is meticulously plotted by the great writer in the sky to be a concrete story of some kind. How would we react if an avatar for that writer came down and told us everything we didn't want to know about ourselves? Would we take it like Oedipus does, with a nearly violent hesistation to believe anything so terrible? Or would it come it a more profound sense of self understanding.
      In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut literally writes himself into the end of the story as he goes around apologizing to his characters for the terrible lives that he has assigned them. Tireseas doesn't quite apologize though, instead he just haplessly attempts to make his hero understand.
     We as people never really get to understand, but the fact that we can oversee and comprehend the lives of fictional characters like god watching ants from up in the clouds is part of what makes art and especially fiction so damned special.


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