Sunday, May 2, 2010

Re-Post: The Essence of Everything

"'Are people born wicked?'" wonders Glinda The Good of the North in the opening song from Wicked. "'Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?'"

Thus begins a fantastical exploration of an age-old debate:

Are humans inherently good or evil? Is personality created through nature or nurture?

From Paradise Lost to Star Wars, art has attempted to provoke answers.

Wicked claims that people are evil, but that it's no doing of their own. To assuage her guilt at being a mean roommate, Glinda befriends the unattractive, hence unpopular, Ephalba. She tries to convince the green girl that the circumstances of her birth were not her fault.

And click here for a thought-provoking excerpt from NBC's sitcom, "Community":

Are people really driven by sex? If so, does that make us more evil than good?

Then, there's Donna Tartt's murder mystery, The Secret History, in which the reader considers the true nature of man; a group of elite college students plots a homicide against one of their own. When the group unravels, the question becomes whether the absence of reason is insanity, and if evil breeds evil.

Is the essence of humanity defined by what we want? Or to the extent we'll go to achieve it?

"'...What is desire?'" Tartt writes. "'We think we have many desires, but in fact we have only one. What is it?'"

What is it? And how does it clarify whether man is good or evil?

Do you know?

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