“Even in divine comedy”

We are always hearing about the limits of realism in art; that is, of this or that respect in which a written thing can never be quite like an acted thing. It seems odd to me that nobody ever mentions the chief chasm of cleavage between the thing written and the thing done. It turns on the old pivot of what theologians call Free Will. The difference is that all events in genuine art are decided: all events in genuine life (in anything worth calling life) are undecided. What is written is written (to quote a Roman governor who showed a taste for epigram at a somewhat unlucky moment); what is written is written; but what is doing need not be done. Every artistic drama is named on the first page a tragedy or a comedy. That is because in every artistic drama the last page is written before the first. But it is not so in that terrific drama which Heaven has given us to play upon this earth, without any punctual cues, with a very invisible, and sometimes inaudible, prompter, and without the faintest notion about when the curtain will come down. If the drama of real life is more dreadful, it has at least one agreeable quality; it is more uncertain. Every human life begins in tragedy, for it begins in travail. But every human life may end in comedy — even in divine comedy. It may end in a joy beyond all our jokes; in that cry across the chasm, “Fear not, I have conquered the world.”

— The Illustrated London News, 16 March 2012.

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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