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2. MASK OF TRAGEDY:
|Now, what about this one? This mask of tragedy is the mask of weeping. It symbolizes our entry into the timeless experience of those participatory emotions that are primarily passive and cathartic; sorrow, pity, terror, those emotions dominated by para-sympathetic reactions. If the mask of laughter is about the struggle towards self-assertion, then the mask of tears is about the push towards SELF-TRANSCENDENCE, about being absorbed into a transformed perspective. Just as we must differentiate spontaneous laughter from social signaling, we must differentiate weeping from crying. Crying is a form of communication, weeping is not. In weeping, the eyes are blinded by tears and so lose their luster, while the features crumple. Laughing eyes sparkle, the facial gestures are lifted. In weeping, the breathing pattern is marked by sobbing, short, deep, gasping inspirations accompanied by that lump in the throat. Laughter is the opposite, expiratory puffs, followed by long intakes. In weeping the muscles go flabby, the shoulders slump forward, the posture reflects a breaking down, while laughter throws the body into more convulsive and extroverted movement. Laughter is marked by adreno-sympathetic excitation; tension is exploded, emotion is debunked. In weeping, it is drained away in a gradual process, disowning of the emotion takes a long time.
I am no scientist, but it seems to me that looking more closely at laughter and tears would be very useful towards understanding how experience is received and processed. We see homelands around the world at war with one another. Each of thse homelands has their own set of stories. How can an attempt to formalize stories from that experience not be served by better understanding the various ways that grief and sorrow, not to mention aggression and fear, are expressed within that population. So, I said these were self-transcending emotions. Why is self-transcendence even a desirable thing, you ask? Because we cannot achieve long-range ends, or create anything of lasting value without it. We cannot create culture; we cannot raise children, nor build communities or alliances. We can do little beyond the scope of our lifetime, without first feeling ourselves part of a purpose beyond our individual desires. To do that, we must transcend the self-assertive point of view. The mask of comedy is the mask of the the self, asserting its own short-term individuality, while the mask of tragedy is the mask of art, the mask of the collective, under which individuality is transcended for the sake of that which is grave, constant and aligned with our long-term destiny.
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