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Monday, March 15, 2010

Get Catharsis

When I lived in Japan, I worked near Shibuya station, where you'll find the statue of the faithful dog Hachiko. He used to go to the station every day to greet his owner, a professor, on his way home from the university. After the professor died at work, Hachi continued to go down to the station every day and wait. The local people later cast a statue of him, still to be seen waiting patiently at the station.

There are times when I can barely tell this story without choking up.

So when a friend told me recently that he was embarrassed by the fact that the new film adaptation of Hachi's story made him cry, I understood completely.

Aristotle called this "catharsis," the release of emotions that occurs from watching (Aristotle wrote) a tragedy. (But I think it works for comedy, too.)

Having a good cry--or a good laugh--at a fictional character's expense, is a great way to get it all out, to "purge" (the meaning of catharsis).

Watch a tear-jerker, or something slapstick. Or try a film like A Serious Man (which we watched this weekend) that will keep you swinging between these emotions.

So purge yourself. Flush out that excess emotional energy. Get catharsis.

You'll be happier.

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