A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

It was at St. Edward’s High School in my Junior year that Brother Dunstan taught me about catharsis. He told us that the ancient Greeks went to see tragedies knowing exactly what the resolution would be yet they would not be sure of the details. At some point during the play, or right after, the audience (and the actors, too) would experience a a satisfying purging of their emotions which Aristotle named a catharsis. This is why plays are so useful in explaining to us the intricacies of our emotions and how they play in our life.

I sat with Rebecca tonight watching the Playhouse Theatre Company Production of The Miracle Worker, beautifully directed, just right by Meg Roe. From our second row seats we were able to discern every emotion, every tick, every gesture of the actors including the exceptional young girl, Margot Berner who plays Helen Keller.

At the point where Helen Keller makes that important connection between the sign language spelling of water with the water itself (and is finally able to think through the discovery and use of language, I could feel tears running down. It was Brother Dunstan’s catharsis.

In the car Rebecca said (showing me a Kleenex with black smudge marks), “I should get my money back on this Maybelline makeup, it runs.” “Did you experience a catharsis?” (I had explained to Rebecca the concept.) I asked her. “It’s none of your business,” she answered. I drove home with a smile thinking about Brother Dunstan and how lucky I was to have had him for a teacher and how lucky to have Rebecca as my granddaughter.

I took the pictures of Rebecca here today after lunch using a hefty Nikon F-3 loaded with Kodak Tri-X. The lens was a 50mm f-1.4 and my exposure was f-2.8 at 1/60 second. Holding that solid F-3 and listening to the "I-mean-business" motor drive was a catharsis in itself.


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