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Plato[ edit ] Both Plato and Aristotle saw in mimesis the representation of natureincluding human nature, as reflected in the dramas of the period. In Ion, he states that poetry is the art of divine madness, or inspiration.
Because the poet is subject to this divine madness, instead of possessing "art" or "knowledge" — techne — of the subject cthe poet does not speak truth as characterized by Plato's account of the Forms.
As Plato has it, truth is only the concern of the philosopher. As culture in those days did not consist in the solitary reading of books, but in the listening to performances, the recitals of orators and poetsor the acting out by classical actors of tragedy, Plato maintained in his critique that theatre was not sufficient in conveying the truth c.
He was concerned that actors or orators were thus able to persuade an audience by rhetoric rather than by telling the truth b.
Socrates warns we should not seriously regard poetry as being capable of attaining the truth and that we who listen to poetry should be on our guard against its seductions, since the poet has no place in our idea of God.
Those who copy only touch on a small part of things as they really are, where a bed may appear differently from various points of view, looked at obliquely or directly, or differently again in a mirror.
So painters or poets, though they may paint or describe a carpenter, or any other maker of things, know nothing of the carpenter's the craftsman's art,  and though the better painters or poets they are, the more faithfully their works of art will resemble the reality of the carpenter making a bed, nonetheless the imitators will still not attain the truth of God's creation.
Aristotle[ edit ] Similar to Plato's writings about mimesis, Aristotle also defined mimesis as the perfection, and imitation of nature.
Art is not only imitation but also the use of mathematical ideas and symmetry in the search for the perfect, the timeless, and contrasting being with becoming. Nature is full of change, decay, and cycles, but art can also search for what is everlasting and the first causes of natural phenomena.
Aristotle wrote about the idea of four causes in nature. The first, the formal causeis like a blueprint, or an immortal idea.
The second cause is the material cause, or what a thing is made out of. The third cause is the efficient cause, that is, the process and the agent by which the thing is made. The fourth, the final cause, is the good, or the purpose and end of a thing, known as telos.
Aristotle's Poetics is often referred to as the counterpart to this Platonic conception of poetry. Poetics is his treatise on the subject of mimesis. Aristotle was not against literature as such; he stated that human beings are mimetic beings, feeling an urge to create texts art that reflect and represent reality.
Aristotle considered it important that there be a certain distance between the work of art on the one hand and life on the other; we draw knowledge and consolation from tragedies only because they do not happen to us.
Without this distance, tragedy could not give rise to catharsis. However, it is equally important that the text causes the audience to identify with the characters and the events in the text, and unless this identification occurs, it does not touch us as an audience.
Aristotle holds that it is through "simulated representation", mimesis, that we respond to the acting on the stage which is conveying to us what the characters feel, so that we may empathise with them in this way through the mimetic form of dramatic roleplay.
It is the task of the dramatist to produce the tragic enactment in order to accomplish this empathy by means of what is taking place on stage. In short, catharsis can only be achieved if we see something that is both recognisable and distant.
Aristotle argued that literature is more interesting as a means of learning than history, because history deals with specific facts that have happened, and which are contingent, whereas literature, although sometimes based on history, deals with events that could have taken place or ought to have taken place.
Aristotle thought of drama as being "an imitation of an action" and of tragedy as "falling from a higher to a lower estate " and so being removed to a less ideal situation in more tragic circumstances than before. He posited the characters in tragedy as being better than the average human being, and those of comedy as being worse.
Michael Davis, a translator and commentator of Aristotle writes:"Jodi Halpern presents a scholarly and cogent exposition of the philosophic underpinnings of the concept of empathy may be rightly viewed as a seminal work in developing a scholarly understanding of the subject of empathy and will assist in the development of sound training and evaluation.
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