Tuesday, 9 September 2014

On Greek Tragedy and the (social media) Kierkegaardian Knight of Infinite drama

Come onto the internet all ye who are heavy laden and you will find the chorus you are looking for - to misquote by a long stretch...


Much has been written about the connection between narcissism and social media; on my cycle home this afternoon I got to thinking about another throwback to ancient Greece, that of Greek tragedy and the tendency of some to present their lives in this genre both in reality and on social media. 

For Greek tragedy to work the basic elements you need are the unfortunate (or, *hilarious*) protagonist, a chorus, and an audience, social media provides just that. In the attempt to keep drama ever present, there are some, thankfully relatively few in my social media world (either that, or I have blocked their posts), who are driven to present their daily lives with the aura of tragedy in order to elicit an outpouring from their waiting chorus. 

As the heroic protagonist, every event related, whether truly concerning them or not, is presented as encircling them so that the intended outcome - the chorus recitation of 'woe' or 'wow' - is procured. The tragedy is worn like a badge of honour to be paraded before all, and its recitation becomes the only way the tragedian relates to others: here I am, pity me, marvel at me, notice me, mE, ME; a cry that rings out through the internet void springing out from the treacly mire of a self-pity/self-adulation pendulum. It is akin to chain-smoking, there must always be a tragedy, or two, or three, on the go. Kierkegaard's tragic hero, the knight of infinite resignation (or, infinite drama...) lives and breathes and posts on facebook or twitter with alarming regularity to present his or her latest plight with great sighs and protestations of resigned sacrifice, and does so with the self-confidence of one convinced by their own plight, exceeding generosity, unfeigned humility, and/or stature as a comedian/enne.


Woe and betide those who encounter such in 'real' life and refuse to join the chorus, then they unwittingly become a figure in the protagonist's dramatic monologue, another reason for their fate to be bemoaned.

These dramas bring this brief conversation to mind:

Baldrick: Permission to speak, Sir.
Blackadder: Granted, with a due sense of exhaustion and dread.

Oh, cor incurvatum in se.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvr5s7_blackadder-season-04-episode-01-captain-cook_shortfilms (04.44 - 04.49)

Pictures taken from:

** http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/176/f/7/greek_tragedy_mask_by_gunner9814-d54vpuo.jpg

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