Ep 31: Aesthetics of Despair; What’s Good About Feeling Bad?

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with the Philosophical Chain Gang

Today’s Episode Aesthetics of Despair: What’s Good About Feeling Bad?

The Philosophers talk about why we seek out negative emotions

Bruce posits the idea that if there is a great deal of bleakness in one’s emotional environment, then a little of something bright does a great deal more than it otherwise might

Ryver expresses that perhaps there is something to this idea found in the Horror genre of media

Sean and Bruce discuss this in terms of a modern form of asceticism

Ryver talks about the idea of bleakness enhancing the enjoyment of brightness in terms of catharsis

Bruce asks if perhaps when we revel in negative emotions is preparing ourselves for when we might not have much of a choice about feeling them

Sean questions this, stating that perhaps doing this takes away from other aspects of our lives

Ryver talks about this in relation to subcultures and how this can create a sense of belonging

Sean compares this to the culture surrounding the French Existentialists

The Philosophers discuss the French Existentialist

Ryver and Bruce talk about the Romantic movement and how it pertains to certain groups within the Goth culture

Ryver brings up despair-focused culture in terms of early hip-hop

Sean and Bruce counter with other possibilities they believe to be a more thematically accurate depiction of the music

Sean talks about a certain subset of country music that falls into the category of culture that revels in negative emotions

Ryver and Sean discuss Art as a means of expressing negative emotions

The Philosophers move to discussing the negative emotions found in the Horror genre of media

The Philosophers talk about the uncanny valley and the unknown, as well how inverting expectations can create a sense of fear all its own

Bruce posits that experiencing a variety of negative emotions through various types of media can give us a broader emotional experience without needing to necessarily go through negative events

Sean talks about how outer space is an amplification of the metaphors concerning the darkness of a woodland night or a dark closet

Sean proposes a theory as to why we seek out negative emotions drawn from the Doctrine of Hardship: we are seeking the ugly truth beneath the beautiful illusion

Ryver and Bruce discuss how this might pertain to the culture of both the French Existentialists and modern Goth culture

Sean explains that we need to find balance between seeking these truths and illusions, but that human beings are not ultimately wired for effectively finding that balance

Bruce and Sean talk about how this relates to the ideas of moderation proposed by Epicurus.

Ryver takes the last word to talk about optimism in Goth culture and the movement of the culture from Nihilism to Camus’ Absurdism. He also relates these things to the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.


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