19 June 2014

The US Financial Crisis and Currency Wars: A Tragedy In Five Acts

Summer Assignment

Here is a fairly conventional look at Aristotle's analysis of what constitutes a tragedy.

The Greek authors modeled their plays on life and their own legends. Aristotle came afterwards and analysed those successful tragedies, both in art and in life, to determine what made them so.

I am sure this will take many of you back to high school. It brings back to mind those wonderful afternoons in AP English, with one of the most remarkable teachers I had ever met.

I think without too much effort, one can fit any number of situations into this framework. I think it is very possible to fit our current financial crisis and the battle to sustain the supremacy of the Dollar into this as well.

I was going to plot out the rake's progress in this for you, but if I give you the hint to start just after the Bretton Woods agreement, and chart the progress of American capitalism in the world until today.  Remember that events tend to accelerate, and are not evenly spaced out in time. 

You may wish to avoid that Desdemona's handkerchief and other such nonsense about the nanny state and creeping socialism spoiling and dragging down the American heroic spirit, which are fogs to avoid the truth. It is much the same to say that the disabled and the Untermenschen were burdens and parasites, like rats, to the thousand year reign of the Ayrans, who never really existed in the first place.  If so you may be able to figure it all out very well for yourselves.
Extra credit will be given for those who are able to identify the major figures of sometimes unintended comic relief, our modern day fools, Falstaffs, and Calibans of mischief.  Hint:  Alan Greenspan and His Merry Pranksters.

One further hint. The US' hamartia is bound up in what became the notion of American exceptionalism. And Wall Street and the City of London are its Iago.

Enjoy the Summer. Bueller? Bueller? lol.

Traditionally, a tragedy is divided into five acts.

The first act introduces the characters in a state of happiness, or at the height of their power, influence, or fame.

The second act typically introduces a problem or dilemma, which reaches a point of crisis in the third act, but which can still be successfully averted.

In the fourth act, the main characters fail to avert or avoid the impending crisis or catastrophe, and disaster occurs.

The fifth act traditionally reveals the grim consequences of that failure.

According to Aristotle, tragedy necessarily involves: hamartia, catastrophe, hubris, anagnorisis, peripeteia, and catharsis.
Hamartia: A term from Greek tragedy that literally means "missing the mark." Hamartia came to signify a tragic flaw, especially a misperception, a lack of some important insight, or some willful blindness that ironically results from one's own strengths and abilities. In Greek tragedy, the protagonist frequently possesses some sort of fatal flaw that causes catastrophic results after he fails to recognize some fact or truth that could have saved him if he recognized it earlier.

Catastrophe: The "turning downward" or the beginning of a decline in fortunes in the plot in a classical tragedy. One might also refer to is as a spiral of decline.

Hubris: It is a negative term implying both arrogant, excessive self-pride or self-confidence, and also a hamartia, a lack of some important perception or insight and self-awareness due to pride in one's abilities.
“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”

Friedrich Nietzsche
It is the opposite of the Greek term arête, which implies a humble and constant striving for perfection and self-improvement combined with a realistic awareness that such perfection cannot be reached. As long as an individual strives to do and be the best, that individual has arête. 

Anagorisis: Greek for "recognition" to describe the moment of tragic recognition in which the protagonist realizes some important fact or insight, especially a truth about themselves, human nature, or their personal situation.
Peripeteia: Greek for "sudden change" it is a sudden reversal of fortune in a story, play, or any narrative in which there is an observable change in direction. In tragedy, this is often a change from stability and happiness toward the destruction or downfall of the protagonist.

Catharsis: An emotional discharge that brings about a moral or spiritual renewal or welcome relief from tension and anxiety.