I’ve had readers accuse me of being an absurdist. “Placing God on trial is an absurd premise,” they are saying. “Having your characters debate whether or not the afterlife grants us virgins or whores is absurd,” they are saying. “It is absurd to make your central character a Jewish Muslim,” they are saying. Oh, nicely. These illustrative fragments of absurd expertise are half of a bigger existence teeming with the absurd. In any case, how can we discover that means in a world the place nationwide leaders undertake a coverage of pre-emptive strike whereas publicly professing everlasting allegiance to the teachings of a thinker who implored us to show the opposite cheek?
And so I settle for the designation. Image my face filling the whole display screen of your lounge TV. Now hear me let you know: “My identify’s Mohamed Mughal and I’m an absurdist.” The very fact is that I do not really feel the slightest compulsion to disclaim the cost. In any case, absurdism is a badge of literary braveness worn by Kafka, Camus, Vonnegut and, extra not too long ago, Douglas Adams.
However absurdism is not an invocation of the absurd for the only sake of absurdity. Absurdism’s absurdity is a mirrored image of fact. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 has many parts of the absurd. Considered one of my favorites is the destiny of poor outdated Edgar Derby. Within the bloody transgressions of a world conflict that killed 50 to 70 million folks and within the speedy aftermath of the Allied bombing of Dresden, a bombing that killed tens of 1000’s of civilians in a strategically unimportant metropolis of museums and church buildings, an American soldier named Edgar Derby is caught taking a teapot that is not his. Poor outdated Edgar Derby is arrested, tried and shot for this transgression. Absurd? Vonnegut maintains that somebody he knew actually was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that did not belong to him. And therein lies the reality that informs absurdism. In his Amazon evaluate of Decision 786, Charles Ashbacher cites a degree of absurdity within the story the place a senior army officer warns troopers in his command in regards to the unauthorized use of non-public cash to purchase bathroom paper that helps a Federal authorities mission. People…this actually occurred.
Absurdism is just not a slapstick skit.
Absurdism is fact supplied on a tray of humor, fact that’s pushed to virtually nihilist limits when essentially the most brutish and narrow-minded character in Decision 786 falls into an inexplicable trance and points the robotic monologue: “The issues we are saying, the issues we do, evening and day – they’re all contradictions. Life is an never-ending stream of contradictions held collectively by some inconceivable matrix of lovely, savage accidents. We wrestle and contrive to assign some that means, any that means, to our accidents. Then we notice that our assigned that means is merely our personal interpretation and projection, certainly bearing no semblance to the that means. We begrudgingly concede that that which is noticed is solely contingent to the observer. In laughable and remaining defeat, we confess that to be alive itself appears an ill-intentioned anomaly in a largely inert and useless cosmos.”
“That means” in a relativistic universe void of absolutes?
Poor outdated Edgar Derby.