“Beauty and laughter are pleasures, but they aren’t just an escape from constant sorrow. They are real but otherworldly; we can’t control their coming and going. They are glimpses of Ithaca, of the home we seek, of the fellowship which allows us to survive and prosper. That’s why they are so important to our social order, and I have to assume it’s why the Greeks put comedies at the heart of their civic life.
“I’ve read that the writers who competed in the festivals of Dionysus had to compose four plays. The first three were tragedies, but the last had to be a comedy. According to this recipe tragedy occupies much of our time, but comedy has the last word. The two forms work together to celebrate the life force that Dionysus represents. This is how I understand the relationship of tragedy and comedy.”