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The Politics of Tragedy, a conversation with philosopher Jonathan Badger

A conversation with philosopher and musician Jonathan Badger

What does it mean for something to be tragic?  Is it just that it’s sad?  Or does tragedy mean something deeper?  Our guest on this special edition of The Signal says we’re all locked in an inescapably tragic condition, just by right of the fact that we’re human beings.  Jonathan Badger is the author of Sophocles and the Politics of Tragedy: Cities and Transcendence, and he says each of us harbors fundamental impulses that are incompatible.  We yearn for beauty and spiritual wholeness.  We also long for stability and bodily security.  And these instincts pull us in opposite directions, just as they have since the time of the ancient Greeks.  During the hour, we'll look tragedy in the eye, and we’ll see what it might have to teach us about who we are and how we choose to live our lives.  Badger is also a composer and recording artist, and we’ll take some time during the program to hear excerpts from his new album, Verse.

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.