catharsis vs. wonder

monday sermon. may 6, 2013. (tues, i was sick)

                                   catharsis vs. wonder

theatre creates catharsis providing access to emotions, the understanding of them through a safe platform.  many performative arts provide access to emotions and help provide a ritualised cleansing or purging of emotions.  catharsis is best understood as an extreme change in emotion that leads the audience to spiritual rebirth.  this results in healthy psyches and healthy physiologies.  mass purgation of emotions has tied groups together culturally over the centuries; with stories of ancient greece still being performed today one can see how important such archetypal experiences are for us.

the other side of the process is the creation of wonder.  while catharsis brings a contented happiness and fulfillment, wonder leads an audience deeper.  posing hard questions and sending the mind into uncomfortable realms.  far from relieving emotions wonder stirs them up and demands action.  wonder is apprehending something rare and unexpected then allowing curiosity and exploration to grow from that experience.  the experience of wonder is linked to joy, it is important for us to feel wonder and joy.  the other aspect of wonder is awe and there are connotations fear with awe.  perhaps that is the lesson, to pass through fear to find joy.

performance art taps into a deeper sense of curiosity and wonder.  it is often quite simple to observe cinema or theatre in another language and still know what the narrative is through the action.  with performance art even if you know what is going on, the absurdity and strangeness may still disquiet and arouse more emotions than it dispels.   the interaction with performance, juxtaposing the everyday with the  wonder filled, the sacred, leads the viewer into their own questions and answers.

questions and answers.  do you quest?  and swear?  to fulfill the quest?  there are doubt and puzzlement about.  a marvel a miracle, that is what inspires awe and wonder.  do you recognise yourself and feel awash in familiar emotions?  then a theatrical production or music show is most likely the culprit.  are you confused, yet amused?  bewildered and burgeoning with unfamiliar feelings?  then you may have encountered performance art.  allow it to percolate and move its memes through you.  it may have moved in your mind like a plough, but from those furrows great ideas can grow.


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