Absurdity is a term for things extremely unreasonable, or as to be foolish or not taken seriously, or the state of being so. "Absurd" is an adjective used to describe an absurdity, e.g., "this encyclopedia article is absurd". It derives from the Latin absurdusm meaning "out of tune", hence irrational. The Latin surdus means deaf, implying stupidity. Absurdity is contrasted with seriousness in reasoning. In general usage, absurdity may be synonymous with ridiculousness and nonsense. In specialized usage, absurdity is related to extremes in bad reasoning or pointlessness in reasoning; ridiculousness is related to extremes of incongruous juxtaposition, laughter, and ridicule; and nonsense is related to a lack of meaningfulness. Students of the absurd or advocates of the importance of recognizing it are often designated Absurdists, and usually consider it one of their major roles in human society to note subtle differences between something that can seem entirely "nonsense" and something which is "absurd", in that absurdity is often hidden within either ultra-seriousness or widely-trusted thought, and actually indicates something beyond any particular notions or definitions of "Good" or "Evil" — or any mortally conceivable concepts whatsoever.
- Alphabetized by author
- Absurdity, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
- The absurd is born of the confrontation between the human call and the unreasonable silence of the world.
- Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful.
- Albert Camus, in "Three Interviews" in Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970).
- The realization that life is absurd and cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.
- It is not funny that anything else should fall down, only that a man should fall down … Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.
- G. K. Chesterton, "Spiritualism", in All Things Considered (1908).
- In a world where everything is ridiculous, nothing can be ridiculed. You cannot unmask a mask.
- G. K. Chesterton, On the Comic Spirit.
- There is no idea, no fact, which could not be vulgarized and presented in a ludicrous light.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, in "Mr. —nov and the Question of Art" Polnoye Sobraniye Sochinyeni [Complete Collected Works] (1895), Vol. 9.
- Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty.
- Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it or simply avoid it.
- Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace (1986), ch. 2.
- There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.
- The privilege of absurdity; to which no living creature is subject but man only.
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan.
- We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd. It is our art.
- Norman Mailer, Canniobals and Christians (1966), "Introducing Our Argument".
- A prophet or an achiever must never mind an occasional absurdity; it is an occupational risk.
- Oswald Moseley, My Life (1968), ch.12.
- From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.
- Napoleon I of France, speaking about troubles in the invasions of Russia (10 December 1812), as recorded by Abbé du Pradt, and quoted in History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution in 1789, to the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, Vol. 3 (1842) by Sir Archibald Alison, p. 503; often also translated as: There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
- I very much like your love of pleasure, and your humour and malice: it is so delightful to live in a world that is full of pictures, and incident divertissements, and amiable absurdities. Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.
- When I was in my teens, I invented a term to describe them. I call it 'holiday consciousness' . . . because I often experienced this sense of optimism and wide-awakeness when setting out on a journey or a holiday. It was always the feeling that the world is self-evidently complex and beautiful, and that life is so obviously good that man's boredom and defeat is an absurdity . . . And then I used to ask: Why do mean forget this so easily? And the answer seemed obvious: because the human will is so flabby and weak. Instead of being self-controlled, self-driven creatures, most men are little more than leaves on a stream, they drift along hoping for the best. I once wrote that men are like grandfather clocks driven by watchsprings.
- Colin Wilson in The Black Room, p. 75 (1975)