Dan Ariely's TED Talk deals with the idea that we really don't know how to control our own cognitive abilities as much as our physical abilities.
He presents this idea with some optical illusions and some example decisions to show how in some instances, we might not really be in control of what we decide to do. One of the more compelling examples that he presented was towards the end. Where he gave us two sets of pictures with two CGI faces of the same name. One was named Tom and the other was Jerry. He then proceeds to tell the audience what the experiment was actually about. It was all about how people choose who was more attractive between the two. Then he proceeds to add another option in the middle of the two faces, which is just an uglier rendition of Jerry in one and Tom in the other set. It showed how whichever had the uglier rendition of themselves had the higher chance of getting picked with their normal face.
This one was a bit harder to pinpoint on how this related to tragedy, but I think I have a bit of an idea. The best way I can represent my idea is with the story of "Oedipus Rex." No matter how much he tried to avoid his fate of becoming the doom bringer to his own life and to others around him, his choice did not matter because fate had already set forth a path for him in that however he wanted to divulge from that path, he would always go towards the same outcome. this is where the true tragedy of Oedipus really lies I think.
This TED Talk didn't really challenge what I thought of Tragedy, though it did manage to get me thinking about Oedipus' story more, so that was neat.
Oedipus Rex's story begins as any other typical "hero saves the day" story. He gets chosen to be the savior of the city of Thebes once again, after being the fabled savior of it during the crisis with the Sphinx. The whole city of Thebes was wondering as to why they were suffering from a plague that was supposed to be prevented by answering the riddle of the Sphinx. Which Oedipus apparently did. This raises some questions to Oedipus' credibility and which starts the whole subject of the story: Who killed the old king Laius, and brought this curse upon the city of Thebes?
When Oedipus was the subject of questioning by everyone he calls for an old prophet that tells him that he was the one that killed his father, the old king Laius. Oedipus refused to believe the old man and deduced that Creon, his brother-in law, was the one that set this plan of blaming him into action. Creon refuses this claim and after another conversation with some old acquaintances of the queen, Jocasta. Oedipus finds out that it indeed was he who killed the old king Laius, married his mother, and set the curse upon the city. Upon the realization of this, Jocasta was found to have killed herself due to this fact. In reaction, Oedipus gauged out his eyes. Creon becomes the new king of Thebes, and Oedipus' overall fate was left unknown to the reader.
The whole Tragedy behind this whole story is that: no matter what would have happened Oedipus was always going to be the one that would kill his father, Laius, no matter what. Even though the people that were close to him, including his parents, decided to have him banished and eventually killed off in the fear of him killing his own father and sinking Thebes into a curse. But fate's hand played a very vital role in this tragedy so that Oedipus would end up killing his father anyway. Another example of tragedy within this is the fact that his daughter's, even though they had nothing to do with the events that have unfolded, are now subject to a life of ridicule and hurt.
This story relates to the definition of Tragedy that we've been looking at in class because of how throughout the majority of the story, Oedipus was trying to prove himself towards the towns people in order for him to secure his place as an important person in their society. This idea goes along with Miller's explanation of how: "the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing--his sense of personal dignity." This resonates with Oedipus' story towards the beginning a lot because of how while he was trying to get the crowd to tell him who they think the true killer of Laius was, he mentioned that even if it was him that did it, he would receive the same amount of punishment as any other person would.
In Arthur Miller's "Tragedy and the Common Man," he discusses the many ways that tragedy could be perceived by many different people. While also discussing the many common misconceptions about Tragedy that often gets highlighted in today's society. One of the very first things that he discusses in this piece is the subject of Tragedy being associated with nobility or royalty. He argues that instead of only the nobles being able to experience Tragedy, the common man, meaning us, can easily experience these as well.
Arthur Miller goes into saying how "the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society." This idea is a very true one. This is because a lot of tragic stories often start off with the so-called hero trying to prove himself to someone, or a group of people in order for him to get truly accepted into his society and get a better life. This makes the inevitable tragic failure that comes to follow even more devastating because we know that the character has had the drive to make himself known to be more than just another person in the minds of the people that he knows and loves. And when he inevitably fails, we feel for him too because we know his story and all of the struggles that he had to go through.
Arthur Miller's views on what Tragedy is has opened my eyes to even more possibilities to what stories could also be considered "tragic." I have never thought any deeper than that of: "Tragedy is just about a character experiencing a large amount of pain and maybe dying at the end." Miller's views sheds light on subjects that truly relate to how most people see the subject of tragedy.
The main thing that stuck to me in his TED Talk was the message of: "You can't be successful at everything." This insight is very much true and it hits home with most people I assume and not just for me. It signifies how most people often stress about not being able to do something perfectly like other people can. Like for me, I see people in other Taekwondo schools, or in tournaments, being able to do something that I cannot do and that bothers me very much to the point that I just think to my self that I am not even close to being as good as the person doing the thing that I cannot do. This aggravates me every time it happens, but I forget this very important point that I can't be successful at everything, and for that matter everyone has different skills and traits that benefits them to be successful at some things that you aren't. I feel like this message should be heard a lot more throughout the world just because of how I'm pretty sure that the envy for another person that stems from this idea has lead many people to deep depression and has just ruined their lives.
This then leads to the idea of envy and how "the closer two people are -- in age, in background, in the process of identification -- the more there's a danger of envy." He successfully presents the idea that envy is what often drives people to think that they are less fortunate than others around them. This is especially true around friends that you have known for many years and are really close to you. You would start comparing yourself to them and feeling unhappy with your own way of life and start to undermine the amount of actual success that you have achieved through your life. This is yet another strong and true message that more people should hear.
Overall I thought that his messages were very well explained and put out there.
I feel like I have the same preconceived idea as anyone else when it comes to knowing what Tragedy is. It's a work of literature that deals with a story that has a character, usually a main character, experiencing a sort of loss or any devastating event that changes the whole shtick of the character for the whole story. Or, if the event happens at the end of the story we as readers can easily assume that the event will surely change how the character acts outside of the confines of the story itself.
So after researching it more on Wikipedia, I found that Tragedy is generally a story about human suffering that provokes a sense of catharsis or sensation, depending on the reader. So this definition just basically confirms my first thought of what Tragedy is. Except for the fact that it states how it gives the audience or reader a sense of catharsis or sensation.