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Hume Studies Volume 30, Number 2, November 2004, pp. 213-236 Pleased and Afflicted: Hume on the Paradox of Tragic Pleasure E. M. DADLEZ How fast can you run? As fast as a leopard. How fast are you going to run? A whistle sounds the order that sends Archie Hamilton and his comrades over the top of the trench to certain death. Racing to circumvent that order and arriving seconds too late, Archie's friend Frank screams in rage and despair. Archie is cut down before he has run twenty yards. Peter Weir's film Gallipoli is a chronicle of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of the first World War, but it is also a film about racing. Archie is trained by his uncle Jack to run "as fast as a leopard." The film begins as it ends, with Archie sprinting in response to a whistle. Frank is first shown racing after a train, along with friends who are on their way to enlist. Archie and Frank meet while competing in a race, they race in Cairo once they have enlisted, and they finally race death. From the beginning, Archie has been faster; even at the end he is the first to die. And from the beginning he has swept Frank along in his wake, encouraging him, pushing him, inspiring him, and helping him to positions for which he is inadequately qualified. In the end, Archie's compassion and kindness prompt a decision which has grim consequences both for himself and for hundreds of others. Knowing that his friend fears death in the trenches, Archie recommends Frank as a substitute for himself, a designated message runner. But Frank is not fast enough, and falls short by mere seconds which Archie would not have lost. This is what leads to the failure of the one real effort to countermand the fatal charge. E. M. Dadlez is Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK 73034, USA. e-mail: 214 E. M. Dadlez I am an emotional wreck by the time the movie is over, though I should admit that most of my tears are the result of sheer rage. Both my dogs exited the room in some haste once I began to shout at the television and the unpardonably dimwitted British officers who sat sipping tea at a comfortable distance as they gave the order for soldiers to commit suicide. But it isn't just the scope of the real human disaster, or the enormity of the blunder, or the pointlessness of the entire enterprise, or even my renewed conviction that stupidity is, in fact, evil, that is so unsettling. The film unnerves with respect to personal as well as global concerns, focusing attention on the chance of vanity's leading one to undertake responsibilities beyond one's competence, the possibility of advancement or security being achievable only at the expense of another, and the realization of how easy it might be to let those things happen. Gallipoli is a sad, disturbing film, and the spectator is grieved and disturbed in the course of watching it. Yet, having said that, I must own to having a copy in my possession, and to having watched it more than once. I recommend it to friends, offering to lend them my videotape. In fact, I press it on them. I say that it is a terrific, rewarding work which they should take the time to see. How is it that I can describe my experience of the film in such glowing terms and at the same time acknowledge the extreme distress I felt in the course of watching it? How can I reconcile the discordant aspects of my experience? David Hume explores some possible answers in his essay "Of Tragedy."1 He begins by calling attention to the paradox of tragic pleasure: It seems an unaccountable pleasure, which the spectators of a well written tragedy receive from sorrow, terror... and other passions, which are in themselves disagreeable and uneasy. The more they are touched and affected, the more are they delighted with the spectacle.... The whole art of the poet is employed in rousing and supporting the compassion and...


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