If I said the word catharsis out loud to a person who didn’t know what it meant, they’d probably think its cannibalism or something.
I was one of those people, not gonna lie. I was convinced it had something to do with the devil or something really morbid, which awakened my curiosity even more, and led me to find out its exact meaning.
Thank goodness for the internet. That brief moment of ignorance was pretty embarrassing now that I think about it.
Catharsis is, to put it in a simpler way, releasing pent-up emotions inside you through some form, in an attempt to get rid of them in a purifying way. These emotions usually consist of fear, anger and pain. An example could be watching a hilarious movie or reading a particularly melancholic book, even though you know you’re gonna be bawling by the end of it. It’s an attempt to cleanse yourself and it makes you feel like you can start over, in a way. Most of us do this rather unconsciously, and it genuinely is a great way to make yourself feel better.
Music. An amazing(and the most common way) to free those salty drops of H2O. Nothing like a bunch of thirty-something dudes wearing black eyeliner screaming angst to get the mood going. Maybe Beethoven gets those tear ducts working. I wouldn’t know. Whatever your taste, music is the best therapy(in my opinion). Not only for us, but also for those who write these lyrics. Everyone has their own way of letting those feelings break through, be it writing, music, writing music. We all gotta find what works best for the mess that we are.
Now let’s talk about plays. Theater. Acting.
What exactly is the point of these plays?
(I find myself asking this question a lot. For almost everything. To the despair of my mother. Who just wants me to peel the damn potatoes without getting too deep.)
A distraction? Totally. Entertainment? Mostly yes. Who doesn’t like a bit of drama every now and then right?
What about tragedies someone may ask. They definitely not entertaining in the same way as the theatrics of dear old Lancelot. But they could be so, if you get your kicks from seeing actors play dead, a morbid curiosity as to how exactly Romeo and Juliet killed themselves, or if you just wanna poke some fun at how silly people were and how funny they talked. In all those ways these tragic plays are just as humorous as their comical counterparts.
All those aside, our smart Greek ancestors had their objective of such plays clear in their heads, even if they didn’t have a difficult-to-pronounce word to go with it. And we made fun of the ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s’ like there was no tomorrow.
Their aim, their ‘point’ as I called it, was catharsis. These plays were made to be cried for. They were created with the sole purpose of getting people’s emotions out of them. All those manuscripts and clean-shaven boys to play women were all part of a healing process that very few understood.
Call me a word nerd all you like.
Catharsis is pretty dang cool.
And the Greeks were pretty dang smart.
Dang those smart Greeks.
(P.S – There are 555 words in this and I’m very unnecessarily proud .)