Complexity and tragedy

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At Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Interwoven multiplicities of action create special kinds of conflict different from the straightforward conflict of two simple intensities bumping against one another. A tragedy such as Oedipus Rex differs from the thinner, repetitious intensity an adventure movie. Compare the more melodramatic intensity of an adventure movie's straightforward characters with the baffling figure of Hamlet.

Simple places cannot produce such tensions, or, when they do, it is because they have become elements in more complex places. Part of the task of cultural and political criticism today is to show how our simplified places can be re-experienced as elements in more complex places, or as simple places enmeshed in complex systems.