Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Because of the nature of recent events, this post may strike a more serious, meditative tone than usual (because that's really challenging to do). But yes, this post is my meditation on tragedy.

The recent tragedy that occurred was that my bike was stolen. I don't really expect the company that printed "Save Darfur" shirts to start printing "Please give a nice, well-meaning college student his expensive bike back," but that's the reaction I'd like to see. Then I'd like to get it back. More realistically, whoever stole my bike will sell it for a few hundred dollars to some customer who may or may not know that it's stolen, but who definitely doesn't care. So, that's sad.

But is this bike theft a tragedy? And if so, why? I've provided a few examples of situations that could be called tragic; I'm curious to know which of these really is tragic, and if there's something that sets them apart from those that aren't. I've done some evaluations on them myself, see if you agree with my logic...

Rules: Determine if the situation is actually 'tragic.' Read my interpretations afterwards.
1) That was horrible! He died in a tragic hang gliding/sky diving accident!
2) Boy, that hole-puncher tragedy was the worst thing that happened in the office last year. I can't believe she lost a leg from that.
3) That game of railroad chicken ended tragically for everyone on roller-blades.
4)  Tragically, he choked on a peanut m&m. Saving him with the Heimlich maneuver was the work of a moment, but the peanut m&m was wasted.
5) Man, what a tragedy that was when I found out that girl I met at the party was my cousin!

1) Not tragic. He knew what he was getting into when he started pretending he was a bird. If anything, this was a very informative learning experience, but of limited usefulness, because once the lesson absorbed (approximately when the ground absorbed him), his ability to apply what he learned drastically decreased.
2) Tragic. And puzzling. Really, who would have thought this could have happened? And now she has one less leg, and the hole puncher is all stained.
3) Not tragic. If anything, morbidly amusing for the wonderful mental image it can create.
4) ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY. Any time a peanut m&m is wasted, it is a tragedy. This seems self-explanatory.
5) Tragic. Presumably, there is one less beautiful girl out of the dating pool. In case she remains in the dating pool, the product of that love would probably be a tragedy, a lot like in Jude the Obscure. Ew.

What I'm driving at is that tragedy, like a good ambush,  contains an element of the unexpected; it can't just be something upsetting that happened. On the opposite side, comedy should contain an element of the expected. Take this cookie monster clip for example. How will it end? Without even clicking, you know the answer. He will eat cookies destructively. And you will, at the very least, chuckle, if you have a heart.

The funny thing about my bike theft is that in a way, I did expect it. As I was locking it up, I noticed that the rack wasn't attached to the ground, and thought that thieves could conceivably take the whole rack. In this light, my bike being stolen  was pure comedic genius. But on a slightly more profound level, I think it really was a tragedy. Yes, I had conceived that it could have been stolen, but I did NOT expect it. I naively didn't think anyone would do such a thing, and wasn't concerned about it. The tragedy here is partly that my bike was stolen unexpectedly, but mostly that I've unexpectedly lost a good bit of faith and trust for man.

Sorry to get all profound on you, it won't happen often.


  1. how will you get around without a bike??

  2. Well, I was thinking I could just mope in my room forever, actually...

  3. !!! Shocking. Horrifying. Appalling. Disheartening. I hope you recover from the trauma soon, I think that a gallon of coffee ice cream is in order here.