To Know Ourselves

"Of course it’s simplistic to say that good sad plays are moral or emotional tonics, like fiber cereal for the soul. But on some level it is fundamentally true. Escapist entertainment can offer fleeting rewards, but in the long run only art really nourishes. Sure, it’s sweet to daydream our way into the worlds inhabited by George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, but it’s more important for us all to know ourselves. Great theater, like much high art, tells us who we are, not who we would like to be.

You could make the argument — well, I could, anyway — that some of the havoc caused by the subprime mortgage crisis can be traced to a collective amnesia on the part of the powers that be about the essence of human nature."

~ Charles Isherwood, "A Healthy Dose of Misery for Company," New York Times (10.26.08)