quotations about absurdism
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.
ALBERT CAMUS, The Rebel
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
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
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
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
The trouble with absurdism is that it dances with fate around the quicksand of nihilism.
JOE KINCHELOE, "Fiction Formulas"
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
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
Realism provides only amoral observation, while Absurdism rejects even the possibility of debate.
FRANCES BABBAGE, Augusto Boal
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
Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?
ANONYMOUS, often falsely attributed to Albert Camus
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"
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
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
The Absurdist abandoned all hope of finding meaning in life and embraced a sort of nihilism. The Absurdist was convinced that everything was meaningless and absurd. The subjectivity of a Romantic was appealing to the Absurdist. However, even that implied that something was transcendent--a desire--and the Absurdist would have nothing to do with that.
JAMES STOBAUGH, World Literature
Insofar as meaning is of importance to the absurdists, but they cannot find it, they have an openness to meaning. Thus their absurdism is not total. It is only reality oriented, which makes their absurdism relative. Consequently, it may be suggested that meaning can be created. One can choose to declare something to be valuable and precious. Thus absurdity has been superseded and meaning has been found in one's projection of what one chooses to be meaningful.
WILLIAM P. FROST, What Is the New Age?
We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd. It is our art. It contains happenings, Pop art, camp, a theater of the absurd... Do we have the art because the absurd is the patina of waste...? Or are we face to face with a desperate or most rational effort from the deepest resources of the unconscious of us all to rescue civilization from the pit and plague of its bedding?
NORMAN MAILER, Cannibals and Christians
Our escape from the absurd takes us down some strange paths. From motorcycle gangs to consumer culture, we are replete with escapist strategies -- but such solace affords only a temporary respite from the icy indifferent stare of the universe.
STEPHEN C. SMALL, "Brief Lives: Albert Camus", Philosophy Now, September 21, 2015
But what is absurd, or rather what is unusual, is first and foremost what exists, reality.
EUGENE IONESCO, Conversations with 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