Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Final Solution: The Truly Pathetic Fallacy

Beelzebub from Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire infernal

The pathetic fallacy is a literary notion in which nature mirrors the inner soul. It’s  important to remember that it’s a device used by authors to express the inner emotions of characters they have created. When a Katrina strikes, there’s a tendency to feel that the turbulence either mirrors an activity of the soul or in fact is a divine response, or punishment. But there are exceptions. For instance what are we to do about the current election? Trump, even his name, has a biblical aspect. Trump sounds like Beelzebub or the overreaching characters Elia Kazan created in movies like East of Eden and you could imagine Paul Thomas Anderson doing a sequel to The Master devoted to Trump trying to put his name on every conceivable object on the planet. Would the movie be called The Overreacher? There are indeed frightening things happening. What could be more disconcerting then the melting of the polar ice caps or infestations of smog that cause major cities in China to have to furlough employee (“Smog in China closes schools and construction sites, cuts traffic in Beijing," CNN, 12/8/15). When you turn on the television and see the destruction of Aleppo presided over by Assad in league with Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah all tacitly supported by a new president elect who has trouble differentiating reality TV from realpolitik, then it may be time to conclude that the upheaval in the outer world is more than just a reflection of the  turbulence of the poet's mind.

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