The absurd – a genre of literature which, ironically, has become increasingly prevalent, understood, well-received, and “hot” throughout the 20th century and into the now – a classification which epitomizes the impossible cross-wires of our recent memory (read: Holocaust, Rwanda, Cold War, mass consumerism, Britney Spears, Stanley Kubrick, global warming, Bush, Obama, Blackberry, Madoff) – and a concept which is so all-encompassing that it is capable of describing, explaining and predicting that which we call “real life.”*
Our world is so crazy, convoluted, messed up, topsy-turvy, momentarily perfect and then KAZAAM…try to understand it and by the time you do another future will be mocking your attempt with an H bomb, another “sliding door” or alternate reality will have replaced the status quo in such a fundamental way that you must have taken the blue pill (or was it the red pill?) and yup, you were plugged into the Matrix and what you thought was reality was just a computer program telling you it was reality.
And yet despite the ridicules of history and taunts of nature, we always want to know and will kill ourselves and others to find out: why? The more absurd the situation, the more we dig deeper, draft theories, spend a bazillion dollars sending a mission to Mars to figure out what life is/was/could be like. Thus came religion, then science, then humanities, then social science and all of its offshoots.
And that’s just at the species level.
When our own idyllic lives begin to unravel, those charted out at age -7 by others and then reaffirmed and confirmed by countless rites of passage, we vacillate so quickly between existential crises and trivial pursuits that our absurd rationalizations start to map out like nebulas. And then we start to call ourselves crazy or the world calls us crazy or crazy is the world. Whatever the answer of the day, fortune cookie says: Eat more Chinese food.
* That sentence was not a sentence. Instead it was a fragment. And yes, it left me with an uneasy feeling too. But, according to the NY times, that string of words might have just made you smarter. Or at least more susceptible to pattern recognition. As they put it, “disorientation led to creative thinking.”