Playlist Thursday: The Pleasure that My Sadness Brings

Aristotle defines tragedy as something providing a "catharsis of pity and fear", which is a fancy pants way of saying tragedy lets us feel strong emotions like loss or fear or pain without the real triggering life events. A question arises then - why the balls would anyone want to experience that? You could have long-winded debates about that question, take my word for it because I have. Maybe all it comes down to is that sadness is an emotion, a chemical-triggering event in our brain and being able to experience it without having a sad event happen means we're a bunch of brainy-chemical junkies. Maybe tragedy lets us remember a loss we've experienced without bringing the full pain back to the surface. Maybe lots of things.

But the fact is people enjoy tragedy. And its evolved over the course of human history based on our beliefs, cultural norms, etc. I think a person's concept of tragedy reflects their metaphysical beliefs at least to some extent. Take, for example A Song of Ice and Fire, and I'll stay as vague as possible although if you've been on Twitter at all in the past year I don't have much to worry about. So much tragedy in those books, and a great deal of that is good people getting killed for doing good things. The way that I felt reading some of those deaths, I guessed that George R.R. Martin is an atheist or agnostic. Why? Because the meat of his tragedies is that a person can be killed for doing good, but he doesn't write those characters like they're martyrs going to a better thing on the horizon. The way he writes his stories, death is the end. You win or you die, that's it. So I guess that's where my suspicion came from, and as much as one can trust Wikipedia I was right.

But anyways, I'm not here to rehash old discussion topics. I guess I have a vested interest in the science of sadness. I wouldn't say all these songs are sad, some are a bit upbeat. But they all have a poignant quality that gets me when I'm feeling melancholic.

Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club
Bavarian #1 (Say You Will) - Miike Snow
You Know Me - Air Traffic Controller
Don't Kill the Magic - Magic!
Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh - Bright Eyes
Trojans - Atlas Genius
Sun - Two Door Cinema Club
All Eyes on You - St. Lucia
From Eden - Hozier
Cough Syrup - Young the Giant
Pressure - Youngblood Hawke
Shake It Out - Florence + The Machine
Made to Heal - Our Lady Peace
Punching in a Dream - Naked and Famous

Full Spotify playlist!

Look! Buttons!


Thanks for introducing me to Bright Eyes and St. Lucia.

... Also tragedy is about mastery. Otherwise the horror genre wouldn't exist.
The success of Game of Thrones is in the realism of it; that anyone can die at anytime for any reason. The power in that comes not from the death itself but from the pathos. Tyrion slowly reloading after shooting his father is one of the most brutal things in the series because we understand the context of it. We empathize with the depth of their relationship and it gives the murder an emotional resonance you can identify with. Tragedy allows us to experience traumatic situations safely.

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