The Virtues of Apathy Essay

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The Virtues of Apathy

“I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.” Morgan Freeman speaks these words in the movie Se7en after declaring that he is going to quit his job as a detective. His character sees crimes of hate, aggression and murder every day, and he also observes the public’s reaction to them. People turn a blind eye; they no longer care. What has happened to society? Why has what used to be considered incredibly shocking dissolved into what is considered an everyday and usual activity? Apathy has become the common response of American society towards what should be considered shocking because these activities have become unshocking and “everyday”.

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Crying and vomiting, love making and dying, and beauty and sickness are paired together and stressed in his novel Blue of Noon. Bataille’s main character is almost a complete opposite to what is considered a normal human being. The character loves what is evil and debaucherous. He even finds the dead more sexually attractive than the living. Bataille uses this estranged character to perform actions that should be everyday; however, the nature of the character performing the actions unfamiliarizes them. A perfect example of this is when the character is sitting down for an evening meal at a pleasant restaurant. Instead of finishing the meal and his conversation with the woman sitting next to him, the character violently stabs the woman in the leg with his fork (Bataille 39). Such an action is completely out of place, yet it happens as though it is ordinary and everyday.

Looking back from a modern perspective, Highmore states that “Surrealism’s attention to everyday life stands the everyday on its head” (Highmore 49), meaning that the Surrealists accomplished their task of upsetting the normal and confusing the ordinary. However, Highmore also notes the second accomplishment of Surrealism when he says, “There is a danger that Surrealism’s attempt to make the familiar (the everyday) unfamiliar has itself become all too familiar”

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