The crimes you are about to hear have all been specially committed for this blog. Here to tell you a story with the aid of smoke-glass ear-trumpet and reconditioned head is yours truly:
I remember when it all started. At the time I was asleep in my electrified elephant hammock, when through the pigeonhole flew a carrier pigeon. There was something strapped to its leg - it was a postman.
He began to play the pontiff and started to get to the bottom of the Myth of Sisyphus. “Life is veritably absurd, sir. So it is even more absurd to counteract it; instead we should engage in fetching breath and reconcile the fact that we live in a world without purpose.” This advice was none too soon, for I had been contemplating the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe. In fact I was beginning to become certain that no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity.
In other words, meaning is humanly impossible, even though there may be some inherent meaning in the universe. It is just not within our reach. This was made clear when my postman enlightened me to the confrontation between man’s desire for significance, meaning, and clarity, and the word-bound, cryospheric universe. This is when I had my “Ah Ha” moment. There are specific experiences that evoke the notion of absurdity. When we encounter them, we are taking a leap of faith, so to speak, to acceptance. And when we do, we are acting with the “virtue of the absurd,” as Johannes de Silentio said.
This faith has no expectations. It is flexible and set into motion by our notions. So this got me thinking about where my notion of the absurd came from. My first tutors were Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Recent absurdist trends in television comedy are now referred as being "Pythonesque." Through them I discovered the ludicrous arising out of the improbable or distressing; usually where the defect or weakness was of man’s own seeking. With the Python's comedy, the more the incredible the effrontery, the greater the joke.
How can I apply this today? Well all I have to do is to pay attention to what is happening in the world. By the time Paul Bremer, the American pro consul in Baghdad left his post, $8.8bn had disappeared. Americans overseeing cash handouts in Iraq could not adequately account for the money, according to an audit by a government watchdog. One official said, on the condition of anonymity, “The worse-case scenario is that someone took it home.”
Do you think?
Here’s another one—The Denver Police had kept files on 3,200 people and 208 organizations who could pose possible security risks. It was discovered by The American Civil Liberties Union that the American Friends Service Committee was one of these groups under surveillance. Guess what? They are a Quaker pacifist organization. I imagine that their subversive prayer and potluck meetings deserved recognition.
Keeping in comic character is consistency in absurdity. Doesn’t it sound a little bit like our current administration? They have a determined and laudable attachment to the incongruous and singular.
At least in comedy the devotion to nonsense, and enthusiasm about trifles, is highly affective as a moral lesson. And this, as we know, is one of the striking weaknesses and greatest amusements of our nature.
It is through my devotion to absurdity that I have been able to understand our President’s morphemics. A common element of surreal humor is the non-sequitur, in which one statement is followed by another with no logical progression. Yes, I guess I do know what you’re saying Gov.
But, does your administration have problems communicating with one another, and is their language oftentimes ludicrous? And, following the cyclical pattern, is your administration going to end in the same state it began in, with nothing really changed? Well, we're WAITING.
As Samuel Beckett said, " What doI know about man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes."
(The beginning of this essay was borrowed from The Whistling Spy Enigma—The Goon Show, broadcast 9-28-54.)