Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Meaning

In the comments for my previous post, Isaac argues:

"I don't think our world has meaning. Therefore, providing "meaning" to the audience member is merely drugging them with intellectual ritalin. I think what we are seeing in our world is one that is suffused with alienation and disconnection, and as artists what we can give to an audience is an experience that (even briefly) works against that alienation and disconnection.Your thoughts?"

Isaac, I have a stepson who is Philosophy major, so I recognize the fact that nibbling on that particular worm that you so casually dangle (I imagine your eyes wide with innocence as you type "Your thoughts?") will lead to a hook in my lip and a sudden yank to a world where I flop around helpless and gasping for breath. So I will politely decline that particular bait.

However, I will swim close enough to say this:

Your statement itself, Isaac, is meaning-full: it places human beings ("the artists") within a larger context ("the world is one that is suffused with alienation and disconnection"). In fact, not only is it meaning-full, but it is heroic as well: you place the artist in the midst of this alienation and disconnection striving, through his art, to create some sort of temporary bulwark against it. It is actually very Greek: humanity shaking its little fist in the face of a hostile universe. "We are as flies to wanton boys" or some such line, Lear says. Better to have never been born, Socrates says. All of which is to say when I use the word "meaning," I don't necessarily mean a belief in some divine metanarrative that makes things shiny and new (although I or others may believe in such a metanarrative and write plays that reflect that belief), but rather simply the providing of context for the seemingly random, unordered events of an individual life. In other words, Isaac, I think we both have the same opinion on this one.

[innocent look] Your thoughts?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scott,
I agree. Thanks for the clarification. And by the way, it's one "s" and two "a"s.
(childhood pet peev)

-- Isaac

Scott Walters said...

Sorry -- I got it right most of the time. I've corrected the misspelling.