Random Pain: Objects and Animals



As has already been established some pain is intentional and some pain is accidental. Equally some pain is inflicted by other people and some pain is self-inflicted. However, a wide range of examples from theatre, film and television also demonstrate that not all pain is caused by other humans. Sometimes, both in life and performance, pain is caused by objects that do not behave in the ways that we expect or could have predicted. When objects cause pain it is not possible for us to attribute the pain to malice or incompetence on the part of the inanimate object. Consider the door blown by the wind so that it slams shut on the protagonist’s fingers. Neither the door nor the wind has any conscious agency. They cannot set out to cause pain but pain may nonetheless be the result of their action. This is similar to the circumstances of accidental pain analysed in the previous chapter but the lack of a human agent must have an impact on the viewer’s response. The absence of a person to blame for the pain (whether or not there is any human intention to cause pain) puts the viewer in a different position when responding to the pain. There is no judgement to be made as to which of the parties is more in the right because such a consideration is irrelevant in relation to objects. However, the audience might have to judge whether the pain caused by the object is realistic; a judgement that will in turn depend on whether the viewer believes that the object could, in reality, behave in the way depicted.


Comic Performance Audience Member Live Performance Wooden Debris Comic Frame 
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© Louise Peacock 2014

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