Kathleen Parker has stumped me with her latest column. What does this mean?
Tragicomedy, in which gods and men reverse roles, may be an honored dramatic genre, but is this any way to live?
I have no idea what she is saying. Here is the complete paragraph, in case the context helps makes sense of this sentence.
Obama's appearance on Jay Leno's show Thursday night -- joking lamely that his bowling is "like Special Olympics or something" -- is symptomatic of a broader blending of the serious and the comic that makes sane people feel slightly displaced. Infotainment isn't a new topic, but the lines are becoming increasingly blurred. Tragicomedy, in which gods and men reverse roles, may be an honored dramatic genre, but is this any way to live?
Tragicomedy, was first defined by the playwright John Fletcher, whose early plays with Beaumont, such as Philaster, were popular hits that brought tragicomedies in vogue on the London stage.
(Shakespeare's last plays, called romances, follow the tragicomedy fad. This is one of the better reasons that the Earl of Oxford could not have written the plays, as he was dead when all this happened. For us to believe Oxford wrote Shakespeare's plays, we would have to accept that he wrote tragicomedies years before anyone else did, and the King's Men did not happen to produce these plays until after 1608, when Beaumont and Fletcher happened to make the genre profitable.)
Where was I? Oh, yes. Tragicomedy. Fletcher's definition:
"A tragicomedy is not so called in respect of mirth and killing, but in respect it wants [i.e., lacks] deaths, which is enough to make it no tragedy; yet brings some near it, which is enough to make it no comedy."
I don't what Parker means about men and gods reversing roles. If anyone can explain that, please do. For extra credit, explain what all this has to do with President Obama.