Quotation by David L. Hall

Byron's revealing line, "And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'Tis that I may not weep," suggests that the comic sense is parasitical upon the tragic. In order to avoid our tragic encounters with the transitoriness of passing fact, the fading of beauty, the destructive consequences of moral evil, alienation from the primary source of value, we make fun. The making of fun where no real occasion for fun exists is essentially what comedy is about. Tragedy and comedy are, indeed, but two masks worn by the same character alternately, depending on the exigencies of the moment; that is, depending upon which mask best represents him in such a way as successfully to reduce the unacceptable tensions of his ambience. Thus the obvious truth of Socrates' argument at the end of the Symposium. Both tragedy and comedy are but one-sided expressions of the ironic sensibility.
David L. Hall, U.S. educator. "Eros Descending," Eros and Irony: A Prelude to Philosophical Anarchism, State University of New York Press (1982).
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