We Are All Actors in the Theater of the Absurd

In 1955 a play opened in London entitled “Waiting for Godot.” A twelve-year-old at the time I read about it in Life Magazine and ignored it, but didn’t forget it. They play was described as odd, bizarre, in fact frankly absurd. As a matter of fact, I saw it a few weeks ago in YouTube, and it was indeed absurd.

The thing is, absurdity is all the rage these days. If I want to avoid reading about absurd things, I have to bypass most of the political, cultural, and foreign policy news and commentary and focus on the new iPad, augmented reality (well, that’s a little absurd), and other tech stuff. And I remember, from my teens and twenties, much discussion about the Theater of the Absurd.

And so, I looked it up.

Supposedly the Theater of the Absurd is a cultural artifact from our distant past, because we have more important things with which to occupy our minds, such as the principle of presumption of guilt until proof of innocence, making America great again, the unspeakable horrors of cultural appropriation, and building the Wall.

But being an old guy with some nostalgia, I got intrigued with the allegedly defunct Theater of The Absurd, hence my conclusion, and the title of this piece: “We are all actors in the Theater of the Absurd.”

My exploration, largely making use of the Internet and the wonderful apps I have for storing my discoveries, led me to a French writer named Albert Camus. The son of a Spanish single mother in French Algeria, he acquired the reputation as one of the greatest philosophers and writers of his time, the mid-Twentieth Century, a reputation which I believe was well-earned.

Camus gave us a philosophic trend known as Absurdism. In his time it was the inevitable consequence of World War I, when many millions of people died for, essentially, nothing. (Yes, Woodrow Wilson called it the “war to make the world safe for democracy.” See what I mean? Absurd.)

Camus’ attempt at dealing with the Absurd was for the individual to fight it with his commitment to his own life, and with his rebellious spirit.

And so, I am posting this Medium piece. Absurd? Yes.

And that is exactly the point.