Saturday, 21 May 2011

Catharsis is a brilliant concept for bookish teenagers

I remember being taught about catharsis. I was in Year 9, and we had just finished reading Macbeth (literally - all the way through to sixth form my teachers chose to have us read books aloud in class). Looking back, I think catharsis was an offering to those of us who'd been getting bored, reading ahead during class or at home, and generally getting itchy about the waste of time. It  was one of the first technical literary terms I learnt, and for about six months I used it all the time, about telly, books, films and even rows with my brothers.

At the time, I thought about catharsis in terms of getting things in the open and enjoying big angsty emotions and the chance to work them through. I liked, and expected to feel better because I actively enjoyed the emotions and the validation of them being displayed and provoked through literature. 

I'm more grownup these days, and less into big displays of emotion - so for me catharsis is now less about refreshing and topping up my emotional stocks, but more about cleansing, sorting and emptying out. I expect to feel more tired and looser in my body, and to feel better because I've emptied out some stress, frustration or whatever. It's not something I go actively looking for most of the time - but there are some books, and some music that I know will do it for me. 

Sally posted on 'catharsis' because it resonates with her at the moment. I'm hoping she's feeling emptier soon.

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