Saturday, May 06, 2006

The need to transform catharsis into character

In his non-review of United 93 for Beliefnet, Thomas Moore tells readers that he will not go to see the movie, filmed as a re-enactment of events on the aircraft on September 11, 2001.

Before sharing his decision with readers, Moore writes,
"You don’t hear much about masochism in the popular press, but it is a human tendency of great importance. The workable blend of strength and vulnerability, courage and fear, trust and suspicion that allows us to deal with life’s challenges can often fall apart. A split develops, and strength is no longer tempered by vulnerability. We divide into doers and the done-to, agents and victims, the powerful and the fearful, instead of keeping these strong emotions in tension within ourselves.

A good film could tell the story of 9/11 in a way that would help us think through the issues without becoming further divided in ourselves. It could offer some insight and the beginning, at least, of a narrative that would help us restore our world, find our optimism, and constructively deal with any problems that may have led to the tragedy. It could help us transform the anxiety created by 9/11 into character, our only hope for a better world.

A bad film will keep us split internally, sustain our fear and belligerence, and prevent us from dealing effectively with the complicated world situation that led to 9/11 and its aftermath. It may open up fear and anger and paranoia in a way that takes us back into raw emotion rather than forward into thoughtful reflection. Catharsis often requires revisiting a memory, but not literally. We need to feel the emotions in a context of open wonder rather than victimization and vengeance."
Readers are encouraged to write their reaction to Moore's observations.

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