The Theatre of Absurd

Good Morning Kashmir Editorial
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In the ‘Festival of Insignificance’, Milan Kundera remarks, “Look around you. Of all the people you see, no one is here by his own wish. Of course, what I just said is the most banal truth there is. So banal, and so basic, that we’ve stopped seeing it and hearing it. This quote sums up the idea of Absurdism. Theatre of Absurd or Absurdism is a genre of literature which focuses on the idea of existence as illogical and meaningless. At some notes it tends to converge with nihilism but there are some subtle and essential differences. This theatre was largely influenced by Existential philosophy. One of its earliest examples in literature can be witnessed in Myth of Sisyphus in which Albert Camus attempted to elaborate on the fact that life is vague and has no purpose. He painted this idea by the use of his protagonist Sisyphus, a Greek mythological figure who was bound to suffer perpetually by hauling a boulder up a hill only to let it roll down again.

 

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He mirrors it with the plight of humans who continuously repeat futile cycles for all of their lives. Camus ends his work by marking, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” by which he puts forth the idea that one should only derive satisfaction and happiness from struggle alone. This theatre was a movement of its kind consisting of innumerable plays most of which were written between 1940 and 1960. There are wonderful plays in this genre, one of which is Ionesco’s ‘The Chairs’ which also capitalizes on the meaninglessness of life. In this play also the two main characters arrange chairs for guests who are all invisible but arriving to learn the meaning of life. Eventually the main characters kill themselves just before speaking and this is when the audience discover the orator is deaf mute. Camus wasnt in favor of suicides though but unlike him, about the meaning of life, Nietzsche believed that life could be given a kind of meaning by embracing illusion. So unlike people who think life comes with meaning which we crave for and need to search for, Absurdists see all of these attempts as ultimately doomed and futile. They believe one cannot escape the absurdity of a human being.

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