Kathleen Dean Moore
I once asked my son what it is about field guides. It's like a dream coming true, he had said. You read about a bird, say, and for years you hold it in your mind. It's an image, a drawing, length and wingspan -- that's it. A picture in your mind. But all the time you think, maybe I will see that really. The real thing. And then, someday, you do. And what was just an idea, it comes true. Like a wish.
Maybe I should get try to get Frank to read Aristotle, because when Aristotle talks about the attraction of tragedy, he sounds a lot like a scientist. As destiny closes in on the tragic hero and he falls to his knees, tearing in a frenzy at his eyes, waves of pity and fear rise up in the audience, engulf them, and then -- this is the important part -- ebb away. Tragedy purges people of strong emotion, the way some medicines are said to purge bodies of evil humours, and their souls are lightened and delighted. "To purge the mind of those and such-like passions," Milton wrote, "is to temper or reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight."
So is my pleasure at storms a purgation, an emptying, the analog of pus? I try to be open to this idea, but honestly, I suspect that the opposite is true. Maybe the value of Greek tragedy is not in the ebbing of the tide of sorrow and horror, but in the height of the waves of emotion, the peaks and troughs.
Stories are all you have, aren't they, when you get beyond what you can see? You make up theories and if they fit together, you call them true. Philosophers call it the coherence theory of truth, but it's only telling stories, and if all the details are right, if they fit together without contradiction, you believe them. ... Sometimes coherence is all you've got, and then it has to be enough.