Friday, March 03, 2006

Logical source of reincarnation, resurrection and rebirth

I keep getting sidetracked from Bleak House.

Here is some Northrop Frye from The Argument of Comedy:

"Comedy, then, may show virtue her own feature and
scorn her own image-for Hamlet's famous definition of
drama was originally a definition of comedy. It may
emphasize the birth of an ideal society as you like it, or
the tawdriness of the sham society which is the way of the
world. There is an important parallel here with tragedy.
Tragedy, we are told, is expected to raise but not
ultimately to accept the emotions of pity and terror. These
I take to be the sense of moral good and evil, respectively,
which we attach to the tragic hero. He may be as good as
Ceasar, and so appeal to our pity, or as bad as MacBeth,
and so appeal to terror, but the particular thing called
tragedy that happens to him does not depend on his
moral status. The tragic catharsis passes beyond moral
judgement, and while it is quite possible to construct a
moral tragedy, what tragedy gains in morality it loses in
cathartic power. The same is true of the comic catharsis,
which raises sympathy and ridicule on a moral basis, but
passes beyond both.

Many things are involved in the tragic catharsis, but one
of them is a mental or imaginative form of the sacrificial
ritual out of which tragedy arose. This is the ritual of the
struggle, death, and rebirth of a God-man, which is linked
to the yearly triumph of spring over winter. The tragic
hero is not really killed, and the audience no longer eats
his body and drinks his blood, but the corresponding
thing in art still takes place. The audience enters into
communion with the body of the hero, becoming thereby
a single body itself. Comedy grows out of the same ritual,
for in the ritual the tragic story has a comic sequel. Divine
men do not die; they die and rise again. The ritual pattern
behind the catharsis of comedy is the resurrection that
follows the death, the epiphany of manifestation of the
risen hero. This is clear enough in Aristophanes, where
the hero is treated as a risen God-man, led in triumph
with the divine honors of the Olympic victor, rejuvenated, or
hailed as a new Zeus. In New Comedy, the new human
body is, as we have seen, both a hero and a social group.
Aristophanes is not only closer to the ritual pattern, but
contemporary with Plato; and his comedy, unlike
Menander's, is Platonic and dialectic: it seeks not the
entelechy of the soul but the Form of the Good, and finds
it in the resurrection of the soul from the world of the
cave to the sunlight. The audience gains a vision of that
resurrection whether the conclusion is joyful or ironic, just
as in tragedy it gains a vision of a heroic death whether the
hero is morally innocent or guilty.

Two things follow from this: first that tragedy is really
implicit or uncompleted comedy: second, that comedy
contains a potential tragedy within itself. With regard to
the latter, Aristophanes is full of traces of the original
death of the hero which preceded his resurrection in the
ritual. Even in New Comedy the dramatist usually tries to
bring his action as close to a tragic overthrow of the hero
as possible. In Plautus the tricky slave is often forgiven or
even freed after having been threatened with all the
brutalities that a very brutal dramatist can think of,
including crucifixion. Thus the resolution of New Comedy
seems to be a realistic foreshortening of a death-and-
resurrection pattern, in which the struggle and rebirth of a
divine hero has shrunk into a marriage, the freeing of a
slave, and the triumph of a young man over an older one.

As for the conception of tragedy as implicit comedy, we
may notice how often tragedy closes on the major chord
of comedy: the Aeschylean trilogy, for instance, proceeds
to what is really a comic resolution, and so do many
tragedies of Euriphides. From the point of view of
Christianity, too, tragedy is an episode in that larger
scheme of redemption and resurrection to which Dante
gave the name commedia. This conception of commedia
enters drama with the miracle-play cycles, where such
tragedies as the Fall and the Crucifixion are episodes of a
dramatic scheme in which the divine comedy is hardly
separable from anything explicitly Christian. The serenty
of the final double chorus in the St. Matthew Passion
would hardly be attainable if composer and audience did
not know that there was more to the story. Nor would the
death of Samson lead to "calm of mind and all passion
spent" if Samson were not the prototype of the rising of
Christ.

New Comedy is thus contained, so to speak, within the
symbolic structure of Old Comedy, which in its turn is
contained within the Christian conception of commedia.
This sounds like a logically exhaustive classification, but
we have still not caught Shakespeare in it.

It is only in Jonson and the Restoration writers that English
comedy can be called a form of New Comedy. The earlier
tradition established by Peele and developed by Lily,
Greene, and the masque writers, which uses themes from
romance and folklore and avoids the comedy of manners,
is the one followed by Shakespeare >These themes are
largely medieval in origin, and derive, not from the
mysteries or the moralities or the interludes, but from a
forth dramatic tradition. This is the drama of folk ritual, of
the St. George play and the mummers' play, of the feast of
the ass and the Boy Bishop, and all the dramatic activity
that punctuated the Christian calendar with the rituals of
an immemorial paganism. We may call this the drama of
the green world, and it's theme is once and again the
triumph of life over the waste land, the death and revival
of the year impersonated by figures still human and once
divine as well.

When Shakespeare began to study Plautus and Terence,
his dramatic instinct, stimulated by his predecessors,
divined that there was a profounder pattern in the
argument of comedy than appears in either of them. At
once-for the process is beginning in The Comedy of
Errors-he started groping toward that profounder pattern,
the ritual of death and revival that also underlies
Aristophanes, of which an exact equivalent lay ready to
hand in the drama of the green world. This parallelism
largely accounts for the resemblances to Greek ritual
which Colin Still has pointed out in The Tempest.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is an orthodox New
Comedy except for one thing. The hero Valentine
becomes captain of a band of outlaws in a forest, and all
the other characters are gathered into this forest and
become converted. Thus the action of the comedy begins
in a world represented as normal world, moves into the
green world, goes into a metamorphosis there in which
the comic resolution is achieved, and returns to the normal
world. The forest in this play is the embryonic form of the
fairy world of a Midsummer's Night Dream, the Forest of
Arden in As You Like It, Windsor Forest in The Merry Wives
of Windsor, and the pastoral world of the mythical sea-
coasted Bohemia in The Winter's Tale. In all these
comedies there is the same rhythmic movement from
normal world to green world and back again. Nor is this
second world confined to the forest comedies. In The
Merchant of Venice the two worlds are a little harder to
see, yet Venice is clearly not the same world as that of
Portia's mysterious house in Belmont, where there are
caskets teaching that gold and silver are corruptible
harmonies of the fifth act. In the Tempest the entire action
takes place in the second world, and the same may be
said of Twelfth Night, which, as the title implies, presents
a carnival society, absent from the so-called problem
comedies, which is one of the things that makes them
problem comedies.

The green world charges the comedies with a symbolism
in which the comic resolution contains a suggestion of the
old ritual pattern of the victory of summer over winter.
This is explicit in Love's Labour's Lost. In this very
masque-like play, the comic contest takes the form of the
medieval debate of winter and spring."

2 comments:

mister anchovy said...

wow, there's some literary cancon...I had forgotton all about Mr. Frye.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Rebirth is ‘YES’. I know about my previous birth. My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state.
HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab.

Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.