quotations about absurdism

Absurdism quote

The Theatre of the Absurd has renounced arguing about the absurdity of the human condition; it merely presents it in being--that is, in terms of concrete stage images. This is the difference between the approach of the philosopher and that of the poet.

MARTIN ESSLIN, The Theatre of the Absurd


Tags: Martin Esslin, theatre

Absurdism, like methodical doubt, has wiped the slate clean. It leaves us in a blind alley. But, like methodical doubt, it can, by returning upon itself, open up a new field of investigation, and in the process of reasoning then pursues the same course. I proclaim that I believe in nothing and that everything is absurd, but I cannot doubt the validity of my proclamation and I must at least believe in my protest.



Tags: Albert Camus

The absurdist is concerned with the search for meaning in the Universe. He believes this search to be meaningless--hence the disintegration of plot, character, and language in absurdist drama. Order is a falsehood that we, God, those who came before us, have imposed on a random universe. However, the absurdist is confronted with a curious paradox: though he believes the Universe to be meaningless, he cannot abandon the search for meaning--or he will die.

WALTER WYKES, artist statement, 1998


Tags: Walter Wykes

Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?

ANONYMOUS, often falsely attributed to Albert Camus


Tags: Anonymous quotes

The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.

MARTIN ESSLIN, introduction, Absurd Drama


Tags: Martin Esslin

Life is absurd; and that is strange because it seems to promise us a lot more but it always runs short. We are made for much more than life can offer. In all men, is a yearning for the eternal, a longing for the infinite. The eyes of men are raised towards the mountains, yet, we only can annex the plains. What can this life, even in its best, ever give to sate the insatiable human desire and its craving for transcendence? This is the conflict: we cannot get what we want -- so, we settle for what there is.

HENRY ANUMUDU, "Henry Anumudu: Life & Its Complexities", Bella Naija, January 16, 2017


The Theatre of the Absurd ... can be seen as the reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of our own time. The hallmark of this attitude is its sense that the certitudes and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been tested and found wanting, that they have been discredited as cheap and somewhat childish illusions.

MARTIN ESSLIN, The Theatre of the Absurd


Tags: Martin Esslin, theatre

The trouble with absurdism is that it dances with fate around the quicksand of nihilism.

JOE KINCHELOE, "Fiction Formulas"


Tags: Joe Kincheloe, fate

An incomprehensible universe is best reflected in an incomprehensible story.

FRANCIS M. NEVINS JR., introduction, Night and Fear: A Centenary Collection of Stories


Existentialist humor is stoic; the Absurdist's is black. The former has tragic possibilities: the victim of the joke is noble and his suffering commendable. Black humor verges on despair: the victim is not noble but holding on, grim and pathetic but determined.

ROBERT A. HIPKISS, The American Absurd: Pynchon, Vonnegut, and Barth


Two strongly influential movements--naturalism and absurdism--have polarized western theatre, arguing respectively for a tidy global perspective of human behavior or for an idiosyncratic local vision, in which ultimately no human behavioral patterns can be abstracted. One is left to choose between existence represented as strict linear determinism or as utter randomness.

WILLIAM DEMASTES, Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition


Tags: William Demastes, theatre

Absurdism, I would argue, itself is a strategic domestication of modernism. The category subsumes a heterogeneous body of intensely specific works under a series of unequivocal generalizations. With its user-friendly philosophical precepts, absurdism allows a reassuring aura of meaningfulness to emerge from recalcitrant works.

VARUN BEGLEY, Harold Pinter and the Twilight of Modernism


Tags: Varun Begley, Harold Pinter

Whereas Absurdism in Europe seemed a logical, almost inevitable response to the irrationality of war, the analogous elements that surfaced in American drama seemed more a response to a materialist society run amok. The American-style Absurdism seemed to spring full-blown out of television advertisements and situation comedies, which had become new myth-making machines.

ARNOLD ARONSON, The Cambridge History of American Theatre


Tags: Arnold Aronson

Realism provides only amoral observation, while Absurdism rejects even the possibility of debate.



Tags: Frances Babbage, realism

In regard to absurdism, Samuel Beckett is sometimes considered to be the epitome of the postmodern artist ... In fact, he is the aesthetic reductio ad absurdum of absurdism: no longer whistling in the dark, after waiting for Godot, he is trying to be radically silent, wordless in the dark. Beckett tries to bespeak a failure of the logos that never quite succeeds in being a failure, for to speak the failure would be a kind of success. Hence the essentially comic (hence unavoidably and ultimately affirmative) nature of his work.

WILLIAM DESMOND, Philosophy and Its Others


Tags: William Desmond, Samuel Beckett

Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.

VACLAV HAVEL, attributed, "From Prisoner to President: A Tribute"


Tags: Vaclav Havel

But what is absurd, or rather what is unusual, is first and foremost what exists, reality.

EUGENE IONESCO, Conversations with Eugene Ionesco


Tags: Eugene Ionesco

Absurdity is the new sublime. The good news is that, while other resources are dwindling, absurdity is multiplying and flourishing and filling the earth.

MICHAEL FOLEY, The Age of Absurdity


Absurdism is not merely an idea about the way things are, it is the way in which that idea smacks against our lives.

DANIEL KLEIN, Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It


The absurd is eternal, but absurdism is not.

ANDREW HORTON, Inside Soviet Film Satire