Talk:Absurdism/Disputed state 1

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This page is largely a duplicate of the disputed state of the article page on 2012·01·19 for people to be able to freely comment upon the appropriateness of various quotes or sections to the article. I concede that the page is currently excessive in some ways, and should be trimmed a bit in various ways, and intend to work on it more extensively in coming weeks. ~ Kalki·· 20:55, 19 January 2012 (UTC) + tweaks

The Absurd, or to act by virtue of the absurd, is to act upon faith… ~ Søren Kierkegaard
I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. ~ James Branch Cabell in The Cream of the Jest
Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. ~ Isaac Asimov

Absurdism is a philosophical stance embracing a wide range of perspectives, which implies that the efforts of humanity to find or absolutely define, limit, express or exclude the inherent meanings of anything, including human existence, are absurd because the qualities of communicable information available to the human mind, and relationships within Reality makes any certainty about such impossible. Philosophical schools of absurdism explore the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once they become aware of it, can or should react to it and to circumstances they encounter. Like Existentialism it was strongly evident in the works of Søren Kierkegaard, but was more expressly developed by Albert Camus in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus and his works of Absurdist fiction repudiating assumptions found in athiestic nihilism and theistic existentialism as well as authoritarianism. It has far earlier expression in many significant statements of ancient philosophers, including Laozi, Socrates, and Zhuangzi. In many ways it relates to the discipline of semiotics, stances of extreme skepticism, overtly absurd faith, strong agnosticism, many forms of mysticism, art, magic, magical realism, and works in the genre which Martin Esslin called the Theatre of the Absurd.

Sections for quotes alphabetized by author or work
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z
Some works emphasizing The Absurd
Tao Te Ching (c. 600-500 BC?) attributed to Laozi
The Apology (c. 399 BC) by Socrates, as recorded by Plato
Zhuangzi (c. 300 BC) — Sayings of Zhuangzi
Gospel of Thomas (c. 50? — c 140?) — Sayings of Jesus
Leaves of Grass (1855 - 1892) by Walt Whitman
Through the Looking-Glass (1871) by Lewis Carroll
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) by Edwin Abbott Abbott
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) by Albert Camus
The Stranger (1942) by Albert Camus
Principia Discordia (c. 1965) written by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) and Kerry Thornley (Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst), inspired by Eris
Space Chantey (1968) by R. A. Lafferty
The Paris Review interview of Eugène Ionesco (1984)
DIsturbing the Peace (1986) by Václav Havel
The Green Mile (1996) by Stephen King
Everything Is Under Control (1998) by Robert Anton Wilson
The Meaning of It All (1999) — lectures of Richard Feynman
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999) — observations of Richard Feynman
Hearts in Atlantis (1999) by Stephen King
External links

A[edit]

  • Secrecy as deep as this is past possibility without nonexistence as well.
  • Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
    • Isaac Asimov, as quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) edited by Geoff Tibballs, p. 299

B[edit]

I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.
Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment — the moment when a man knows forever more who he is. ~ Jorge Luis Borges
I understand Being in all and over all, as there is nothing without participation in Being, and there is no being without Essence. Thus nothing can be free of the Divine Presence. ~ Giordano Bruno
  • Given that only the religion of pervasive kenosis can be truly universal, no single historical individual can exhaust its fullness by virtue of his redemptive acts, and no religious institution can grasp and articulate its meaning by means of dogmatic or doctrinal teachings. In the last resort, it is in the name of religious universalism that Simone Weil calls for a reversion of historical Christianity to its origins as a religion of kenosis.
    • J. Edgar Bauer, in "Simone Weil: Kenotic Thought and "Sainteté Nouvelle" in The 2002 CESNUR International Conference : Minority Religions, Social Change, and Freedom of Conscience (June 2002)
  • The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "The Library of Babel" ["La Biblioteca de Babel"] (1941) First lines
  • I pray to the unknown gods that some man — even a single man, tens of centuries ago — has perused and read this book. If the honor and wisdom and joy of such a reading are not to be my own, then let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my own place may be in hell. Let me be tortured and battered and annihilated, but let there be one instant, one creature, wherein thy enormous Library may find its justification.
  • Do you want to see what human eyes have never seen? Look at the moon. Do you want to hear what ears have never heard? Listen to the bird's cry. Do you want to touch what hands have never touched? Touch the earth. Verily I say that God is about to create the world.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in The Theologians (April 1947), translated by James E. Irby (1964)
  • Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment — the moment when a man knows forever more who he is.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz", in The Aleph (1949); tr. Andrew Hurley, Collected Fictions (1998)
  • There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death. What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "The Immortal", § IV, in The Aleph (1949); tr. Andrew Hurley, Collected Fictions (1998)
    • Variant: To be immortal is commonplace; except for man, all creatures are immortal, for they are ignorant of death; what is divine, terrible, incomprehensible, is to know that one is immortal.
  • No one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men. Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.
  • El original es infiel a la traducción.
  • The fact is that poetry is not the books in the library . . . Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book.
  • I will pause to consider this eternity from which the subsequent ones derive.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "A History of Eternity" in Selected Non-Fictions Vol. 1, (1999), edited by Eliot Weinberger
  • Communication must become total and conscious before we can stop it.
  • The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.
    • Giordano Bruno, as quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 - 1600 (1913) by Coulson Turnbull
  • Heroic love is the property of those superior natures who are called insane (insano) not because they do not know, but because they over-know (soprasanno).
      • Giordano Bruno, as quoted in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), by Miguel de Unamuno, as translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch; Conclusion : Don Quixote in the Contemporary European Tragi-Comedy
  • Nature is none other than God in things... Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.
    • Giordano Bruno, as quoted in Elements of Pantheism (2004) by Paul A. Harrison

C[edit]

Creeds matter very little... The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. So I elect for neither label. ~ James Branch Cabell
In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus
Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day. ~ Albert Camus
A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously. ~ Albert Camus
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. ~ Albert Camus
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true. ~ Lewis Carroll
  • I quite fixedly believe the Wardens of Earth sometimes unbar strange windows, that face on other worlds than ours. And some of us, I think, once in a while get a peep through these windows. But we are not permitted to get a long peep, or an unobstructed peep, nor very certainly, are we permitted to see all there is — out yonder. The fatal fault, sir, of your theorizing is that it is too complete. It aims to throw light upon the universe, and therefore is self-evidently moonshine. The Wardens of Earth do not desire that we should understand the universe, Mr. Kennaston; it is part of Their appointed task to insure that we never do; and because of Their efficiency every notion that any man, dead, living, or unborn, might form as to the universe will necessarily prove wrong.
  • I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are...
    • James Branch Cabell, in The Cream of the Jest : A Comedy of Evasions (1917), The Epilogue : Which is the proper ending of all comedies; and heralds, it may be, an after piece.
  • I have followed after the truth, across this windy planet upon which every person is nourished by one or another lie.
    • James Branch Cabell, in The Silver Stallion : A Comedy of Redemption (1926); Coth, in Book Four : Coth at Porutsa, Ch. XXVI : The Realist in Defeat
  • Creeds matter very little... The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. So I elect for neither label.
    • James Branch Cabell, in The Silver Stallion : A Comedy of Redemption (1926); Coth, in Book Four : Coth at Porutsa, Ch. XXVI : The Realist in Defeat
  • The absurd … is an experience to be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence of Descartes' methodical doubt. 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. The first and only evidence that is supplied me, within the terms of the absurdist experience, is rebellion … Rebellion is born of the spectacle of irrationality, confronted with an unjust and incomprehensible condition.
    • Albert Camus, in The Rebel (1951), as quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd';(2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 44
  • In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
    • Albert Camus, in Return to Tipasa (1952), as translated in Lyrical and Critical Essays (1968), p. 169; also in The Unquiet Vision : Mirrors of Man in Existentialism (1969) by Nathan A. Scott, p. 116
  • In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that's all.
  • A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously.
    • As quoted in Albert Camus : The Invincible Summer (1958) by Albert Maquet, p. 86; a remark made about the Marquis de Sade.
  • 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.
  • "Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What I tell you three times is true.
    "
  • You may seek it with thimbles — and seek it with care;
    You may hunt it with forks and hope;
    You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
    You may charm it with smiles and soap —

    ("That's exactly the method," the Bellman bold
    In a hasty parenthesis cried,
    "That's exactly the way I have always been told
    That the capture of Snarks should be tried!")

    "'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
    If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
    You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
    And never be met with again!'

    • Lewis Carroll, in The Hunting of the Snark (1874), Fit the Third : The Baker's Tale
  • Of course you know what a Snark is? If you do, please tell me: for I haven't an idea what it is like.
  • Is all our Life, then but a dream
    Seen faintly in the goldern gleam
    Athwart Time's dark resistless stream?
  • I suppose every child has a world of his own — and every man, too, for the matter of that. I wonder if that's the cause for all the misunderstanding there is in Life?

D[edit]

It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself. ~ Salvador Dalí
  • It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself.
  • 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 : Ways of Being and Mind (1990)
  • To study the meaning of man and of life — I am making significant progress here. I have faith in myself. Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, personal correspondence (1839), as quoted in Dostoevsky : His Life and Work (1971) by Konstantin Mochulski, as translated by Michael A. Minihan, p. 17
  • It's life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.
  • I am a ridiculous person. Now they call me a madman. That would be a promotion if it were not that I remain as ridiculous in their eyes as before. But now I do not resent it, they are all dear to me now, even when they laugh at me — and, indeed, it is just then that they are particularly dear to me. I could join in their laughter — not exactly at myself, but through affection for them, if I did not feel so sad as I look at them. Sad because they do not know the truth and I do know it. Oh, how hard it is to be the only one who knows the truth! But they won't understand that. No, they won't understand it.
  • Yes, I dreamed a dream, my dream of the third of November. They tease me now, telling me it was only a dream. But does it matter whether it was a dream or reality, if the dream made known to me the truth? If once one has recognized the truth and seen it, you know that it is the truth and that there is no other and there cannot be, whether you are asleep or awake. Let it be a dream, so be it, but that real life of which you make so much I had meant to extinguish by suicide, and my dream, my dream — oh, it revealed to me a different life, renewed, grand and full of power!

E[edit]

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 ... 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.
  • "The Theatre of the Absurd" has become a catch-phrase, much used and much abused. What does it stand for? And how can such a label be justified? Perhaps it will be best to attempt to answer the second question first. There is no organised movement, no school of artists, who claim the label for themselves. A good many playwrights who have been classed under this label, when asked if they belong to the Theatre of the Absurd, will indigniantly reply that they belong to no such movement — and quite rightly so. For each of the playwrights concerned seeks to express no more and no less his own personal vision of the world.
    Yet critical concepts of this kind are useful when new modes of expression, new conventions of art arise.
  • 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.

F[edit]

File:Otolamen.jpg
In one sense, Aleister Crowley is lower than whale shit. In another, he's as high as God's hat… ~ Philip José Farmer

G[edit]

H[edit]

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. ~ Václav Havel
  • 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. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance. Awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity, both in others and in ourselves. A good mind. A modest certainty about the meaning of things. Gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it. Vigilance of spirit.
  • 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. . .

I[edit]

Good men make good rhinoceroses, unfortunately. ~ Eugène Ionesco
Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for humanity. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for me. ~ Eugène Ionesco
Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together. ~ Eugène Ionesco
  • I believe that what separates us all from one another is simply society itself, or, if you like, politics. This is what raises barriers between men, this is what creates misunderstanding.
    If I may be allowed to express myself paradoxically, I should say that the truest society, the authentic human community, is extra-social — a wider, deeper society, that which is revealed by our common anxieties, our desires, our secret nostalgias. The whole history of the world has been governed by nostalgias and anxieties, which political action does no more than reflect and interpret, very imperfectly. No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.
  • Every work of art (unless it is a psuedo-intellectualist work, a work already comprised in some ideology that it merely illustrates, as with Brecht) is outside ideology, is not reducible to ideology. Ideology circumscribes without penetrating it. The absence of ideology in a work does not mean an absence of ideas; on the contrary it fertilizes them.
  • Logician: A cat has four paws.
    Old Gentleman: My dog had four paws.
    Logician: Then it's a cat.
    Old Gentleman: So my dog is a cat?
    Logician: And the contrary is also true.
  • Good men make good rhinoceroses, unfortunately.
  • I am told, in a dream ... you can only get the answer to all your questions through a dream. So in my dream, I fall asleep, and I dream, in my dream, that I'm having that absolute, revealing dream.
    • Eugène Ionesco, speaking of a dream not fully remembered, in Fragments of a Journal (1966)
  • I thought that it was strange to assume that it was abnormal for anyone to be forever asking questions about the nature of the universe, about what the human condition really was, my condition, what I was doing here, if there was really something to do. It seemed to me on the contrary that it was abnormal for people not to think about it, for them to allow themselves to live, as it were, unconsciously. Perhaps it's because everyone, all the others, are convinced in some unformulated, irrational way that one day everything will be made clear. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for humanity. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for me.
  • It isn't what people think that's important, but the reason they think what they think.
    • Eugène Ionesco, as quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 468; also in The Quantum Dice (1993) by Leonid Ivanovich Ponomarev, p. 50
  • It's not a certain society that seems ridiculous to me, it's mankind.
    • Eugène Ionesco, as quoted in Encyclopedia of World Biography (1998) edited by Suzanne Michele Bourgoin, Paula Kay Byers, Gale Research Inc, p. 132

J[edit]

  • You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

K[edit]

Sin is this: before God, or with the conception of God, to be in despair at not willing to be oneself, or in despair at willing to be oneself. ~ Søren Kierkegaard
The passion of faith is the only thing which masters the absurd — if not, then faith is not faith in the strictest sense, but a kind of knowledge. ~ Søren Kierkegaard
The absurd is that the eternal truth has come into existence in time, that God has come into existence, has been born, has grown up. etc., has come into existence exactly as an individual human being, indistinguishable from any other human being…~ Søren Kierkegaard
  • What is the Absurd? It is, as may quite easily be seen, that I, a rational being, must act in a case where my reason, my powers of reflection, tell me: you can just as well do the one thing as the other, that is to say where my reason and reflection say: you cannot act and yet here is where I have to act... The Absurd, or to act by virtue of the absurd, is to act upon faith ... I must act, but reflection has closed the road so I take one of the possibilities and say: This is what I do, I cannot do otherwise because I am brought to a standstill by my powers of reflection.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, in a journal entry (1849), in The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard (1938) edited by Alexander Dru
  • I gladly undertake, by way of brief repetition, to emphasize what other pseudonyms have emphasized. The absurd is not the absurd or absurdities without any distinction (wherefore Johannes de Silentio: "How many of our age understand what the absurd is?"). The absurd is a category, and the most developed thought is required to define the Christian absurd accurately and with conceptual correctness. The absurd is a category, the negative criterion, of the divine or of the relationship to the divine. When the believer has faith, the absurd is not the absurd — faith transforms it, but in every weak moment it is again more or less absurd to him. The passion of faith is the only thing which masters the absurd — if not, then faith is not faith in the strictest sense, but a kind of knowledge. The absurd terminates negatively before the sphere of faith, which is a sphere by itself. To a third person the believer relates himself by virtue of the absurd; so must a third person judge, for a third person does not have the passion of faith. Johannes de Silentio has never claimed to be a believer; just the opposite, he has explained that he is not a believer — in order to illuminate faith negatively.
  • In spite of or in defiance of the whole of existence he wills to be himself with it, to take it along, almost defying his torment. For to hope in the possibility of help, not to speak of help by virtue of the absurd, that for God all things are possible – no, that he will not do. And as for seeking help from any other – no, that he will not do for all the world; rather than seek help he would prefer to be himself – with all the tortures of hell, if so it must be.
  • What, then, is the absurd? The absurd is that the eternal truth has come into existence in time, that God has come into existence, has been born, has grown up. etc., has come into existence exactly as an individual human being, indistinguishable from any other human being, inasmuch as all immediate recognizability is pre-Socratic paganism and from the Jewish point of view is idolatry.

L[edit]

Maybe other people don't see what we see... ~ Noah, in The Last Mimzy
  • This stuff could be dangerous. ... I showed the green glass thing to mom. She thought it was a paper-weight. Maybe other people don't see what we see.
  • In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits... In the province of connected minds, what the network believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the network's mind there are no limits.

M[edit]

  • All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

N[edit]

O[edit]

  • The folly of Interpreters has been, to foretell times and things by this Prophecy, as if God designed to make them Prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the Prophecy also into contempt.
    The design of God was much otherwise. He gave this and the Prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify mens curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own Providence, not the Interpreters, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by providence.
  • We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary.
    • George Orwell, in a letter to The Tribune (20 December 1940), later published in A Patriot After All, 1940-1941 (1999)
  • The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
  • To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
    • George Orwell, "In Front of Your Nose," Tribune (22 March 1946)

P[edit]

  • Truth will triumph. It always does. However, I figure truth is a variable, so we're right back where we started from.

Q[edit]

R[edit]

"God is an iron," I said. "Did you know that?"
I turned to look at her and she was staring. She laughed experimentally, stopped when I failed to join in. "And I'm a pair of pants with a hole scorched through the ass?" ~ Spider Robinson
As Bob Dylan forgot to say,To live outside the law, you must be lucky. ~ Spider Robinson
  • "God is an iron," I said. "Did you know that?"
    I turned to look at her and she was staring. She laughed experimentally, stopped when I failed to join in. "And I'm a pair of pants with a hole scorched through the ass?"
    "If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron."
  • Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.
    • Spider Robinson, "Callahan's Law", as expressed in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)], Part IV : Earth ... and Beyond, "Post Toast", p. 388. On the back cover of Callahan's Legacy (1996) this is modified into "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased (and bad puns are appreciated).

S[edit]

In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time… ~ Upton Sinclair
Jesus never said anything about absurdity... he didn't even try to make the theory understandable in terms of the reality and experience of the rest of us. For if everybody else is also not what Jesus said he was, what good is what he said? ~ William Saroyan
  • Jesus never said anything about absurdity, and he never indicated for one flash of time that he was aware of the preposterousness of his theory about himself. And he didn't even try to make the theory understandable in terms of the reality and experience of the rest of us. For if everybody else is also not what Jesus said he was, what good is what he said?
  • Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself. He is humiliated by his simian ancestry, and tries to deny his animal nature, to persuade himself that he is not limited by its weaknesses nor concerned in its fate. And this impulse may be harmless, when it is genuine. But what are we to say when we see the formulas of heroic self-deception made use of by unheroic self-indulgence? What are we to say when we see asceticism preached to the poor by fat and comfortable retainers of the rich? What are we to say when we see idealism become hypocrisy, and the moral and spiritual heritage of mankind twisted to the knavish purposes of class-cruelty and greed? What I say is — Bootstrap-lifting!
    • Upton Sinclair, in The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918), Introductory, "Bootstrap-lifting"
  • In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: "All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian gospel. The early Christians had "all things in common, except women;" they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.
    But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again, to get Jesus' church. He came when, through the power of the new revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed the guise or no less a person than the Emperor himself, suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world's greatest religion.
    • Upton Sinclair, in The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918), Book Seven : The Church of the Social Revolution, "Christ and Caesar"
  • As for me, all I know is that I know nothing, for when I don't know what justice is, I'll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.
  • We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it. Before we know that there are words. Out we come, bloodied and squalling, with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure.
  • Between "just desserts" and "tragic irony" we are given quite a large scope for our particular talent. Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get.

T[edit]

It is to be believed because it is absurd. ~ Tertullian
Little flower — but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is. ~ Alfred Tennyson
  • Flower in the crannied wall,
    I pluck you out of the crannies,
    I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
    Little flower — but if I could understand
    What you are, root and all, and all in all,
    I should know what God and man is.
  • Prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est.
    • It is to be believed because it is absurd.
  • Certum est, quia impossible est.
    • It is certain because it is impossible.
    • Tertullian, De Carne Christi (5.4); two lines from De Carne Christi have often become conflated into the statement: "Credo quia impossibile" (I believe it because it is impossible), which can be perceived as a distortion of the actual arguments that Tertullian was making.
  • De calcaria in carbonarium.
    • Out of the frying pan into the fire.
  • Platitudes are safe, because they're easy to wink at, but truth is something else again.

U[edit]

  • There are periods of history when the visions of madmen and dope fiends are a better guide to reality than the common-sense interpretation of data available to the so-called normal mind. This is one such period, if you haven't noticed already.
  • ONLY THE MADMAN IS ABSOLUTELY SURE.
  • There is no governor anywhere; you are all absolutely free. There is no restraint that cannot be escaped. We are all absolutely free. If everybody could go into dhyana at will, nobody could be controlled — by fear of prison, by fear of whips or electroshock, by fear of death, even. All existing society is based on keeping those fears alive, to control the masses. Ten people who know would be more dangerous than a million armed anarchists.
  • Guerrilla ontology
    The basic technique of all my books.
    Ontology is the study of being; the guerrilla approach is to so mix the elements of each book that the reader must decide on each page 'How much of this is real and how much is a put-on?'"
  • Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.
    Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

V[edit]

W[edit]

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Z[edit]

Tao Te Ching (c. 600-500 BC?)[edit]

There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.
Perhaps the most ancient document of absurdist expressions, the Tao Te Ching (道德經, Pinyin: Dào Dé Jīng, or Dao De Jing) represents the sole document generally attributed to 老子 Lǎozǐ also called Lao Zi, Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, and Lao Tze.
The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name (道可道,非常道;名可名,非常名).
The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds.
The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.
A leader is best when people barely know that he exists...
File:Lao Tse.jpg
Of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves."
Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not.
How do I know this is true?
I look inside myself and see.
A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
Without the laughter, there would be no Tao.
The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Tolerant like the sky, all-pervading like sunlight, firm like a mountain, supple like a tree in the wind, he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way.
File:"Song of Shambhala".jpg
The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others, the happier he is.
The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is.
File:Nagarjuna Conqueror of the Serpent.jpg
The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.
  • The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name.
    Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth; Existence is the mother of all things.
    From eternal non-existence, therefore, we serenely observe the mysterious beginning of the Universe; From eternal existence we clearly see the apparent distinctions.
    These two are the same in source and become different when manifested.
    This sameness is called profundity. Infinite profundity is the gate whence comes the beginning of all parts of the Universe.
    • Ch 1, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)
    • Also as Tao called Tao is not Tao.
  • The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

    The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
    Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
    These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
    this appears as darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gate to all mystery.
    • Ch. 1, Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English (1972)
  • The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.
    The unnameable is the eternally real.

    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.
    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
    Yet mystery and manifestations
    arise from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gateway to all understanding.
  • The tao that can be described
    is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be spoken
    is not the eternal Name.
    The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
    The named is the mother of creation.
    Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
    By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.

    Yet mystery and reality
    emerge from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.
    Darkness born from darkness.
    The beginning of all understanding.
  • The way you can go
    isn't the real way.
    The name you can say
    isn't the real name.
    Heaven and earth
    begin in the unnamed:
    name's the mother
    of the ten thousand things.

    So the unwanting soul
    sees what's hidden,
    and the ever-wanting soul
    sees only what it wants.
    Two things, one origin,
    but different in name,
    whose identity is mystery.
    Mystery of all mysteries!
    The door to the hidden.
  • The Tao is like a well:
    used but never used up.

    It is like the eternal void:
    filled with infinite possibilities.

    It is hidden but always present.
    I don't know who gave birth to it.
    It is older than God.

  • The Tao is like a bellows:
    it is empty yet infinitely capable.
    The more you use it, the more it produces;
    the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
  • The Tao is called the Great Mother:
    empty yet inexhaustible,
    it gives birth to infinite worlds.
  • The universe is deathless; Is deathless because, having no finite self, it stays infinite. A sound man by not advancing himself stays the further ahead of himself, By not confining himself to himself sustains himself outside himself: By never being an end in himself he endlessly becomes himself.
    • Ch. 7
  • Thirty spokes unite at the single hub;
    It is the empty space which makes the wheel useful.
    Mold clay to form a bowl;
    It is the empty space which makes the bowl useful.
    Cut out windows and doors;
    It is the empty space which makes the room useful.
    • Ch. 11
  • A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves."
    • Ch. 17
  • Since before time and space were,
    the Tao is.
    It is beyond is and is not.

    How do I know this is true?
    I look inside myself and see.
  • There is a thing inherent and natural,
    Which existed before heaven and earth.
    Motionless and fathomless,
    It stands alone and never changes;
    It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted.
    It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
    I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.
    • Ch 25, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)
  • A good traveler has no fixed plans
    and is not intent upon arriving.
    A good artist lets his intuition
    lead him wherever it wants.
    A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
    and keeps his mind open to what is.

    Thus the Master is available to all people
    and doesn't reject anyone.
    He is ready to use all situations
    and doesn't waste anything.
    This is called embodying the light.

    • Ch. 27, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)
    • Variants:
    • A good traveller has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.
      • As quoted in In Search of King Solomon's Mines‎ (2003) by Tahir Shah, p. 217
    • A true traveller has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.
  • Knowing others is intelligence;
    knowing yourself is true wisdom.
    Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
  • Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, take it and practice it earnestly.
    Scholars of the middle class, when they hear of it, take it half earnestly.
    Scholars of the lowest class, when they hear of it, laugh at it.
    Without the laughter, there would be no Tao.
    • Ch. 41
  • He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
    • Ch. 46
  • To attain knowledge, add things every day.
    To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
    • Ch. 48
  • 'Block the passages, shut the doors,
    And till the end your strength shall not fail.
    Open up the passages, increase your doings,
    And till your last day no help shall come to you.'
    • Ch. 52 as translated by Arther Walley (1934)
  • He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.
    • Ch. 56
  • The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
    • Ch. 57
    • Variant translation: The more prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be.
  • The mark of a moderate man
    is freedom from his own ideas.

    Tolerant like the sky,
    all-pervading like sunlight,
    firm like a mountain,
    supple like a tree in the wind,
    he has no destination in view
    and makes use of anything
    life happens to bring his way.
  • Wise men don't need to prove their point;
    men who need to prove their point aren't wise.
    The Master has no possessions.
    The more he does for others, the happier he is.
    The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is.
    The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
    By not dominating, the Master leads.

The Apology (c. 399 BC)[edit]

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows. ~ Socrates
Absurdist quotes of Socrates, from Plato's famous account of his trial and execution.
  • When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
    • 21d
  • I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing... as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go on my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.
    • 23a-c
  • If somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practice or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they do not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretense of knowledge has been detected — which is the truth...
    • 23d
  • Someone will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong — acting the part of a good man or a bad. ...For wherever a man's place is, whether the place he has chosen or that where he has been placed by a commander. there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of death of of anything, but of disgrace.
    • 28b-d
  • If, I say now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods... then I would be fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For this fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. ...this is the point in which, as I think, I am superior to men in general, and in which I might perhaps fancy myself wiser than other men — that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.
    • 29a-b
  • I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting anyone whom I meet after my manner, and convincing him, saying: O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this? And if the person with whom I an arguing says: Yes, but I do care: I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says that he has, I reproach him with overvaluing the greater, and undervaluing the less. ...For this is the command of God, as I would have you know...
    • 29d-30a
  • I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.
    • 30a-b
  • Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say that the greatest good of a man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living — that you are still less likely to believe.
    • 37e-38a
    • ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi)
      • The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.
      • 38a
  • I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.
    • 38e-39a
  • And I prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately after my death punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you. Me you have killed because you wanted to escape the accuser, and not to give an account of your lives. But that will not be as you suppose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: and as they are younger they will be more severe with you, and you will be more offended at them. For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censoring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.
    • 39c-d
  • We shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and a migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the site of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. ...Now, if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O friends and judges, can be greater than this? ...Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. ...What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For in that world they would not put a man to death for this; certainly not. For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.
    • 40c-41c
  • Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know that this is of a truth — that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. ...For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.
    • 41c-e
  • The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows.
    • 42a

Zhuangzi (c. 300 BC)[edit]

Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! ~ Zhuangzi
Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. ~ Zhuangzi
Quotations of Zhuangzi as translated from the book known as Zhuangzi:
  • Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
  • During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream. Such is my tale. It will probably be called preposterous, but after ten thousand generations there may be a great sage who will be able to explain it, a trivial interval equivalent to the passage from morning to night.
  • Right is not right; so is not so. If right were really right it would differ so clearly from not right that there would be no need for argument. If so were really so, it would differ so clearly from not so that there would be no need for argument.
    • "Discussion on Making All Things Equal"
  • Forget the years, forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home!
    • "Discussion on Making All Things Equal"
  • 知止乎其所不能知,至矣。若有不即是者,天鈞敗之。
    • To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.
    • Book XXIII, ¶ 7,as rendered in the epigraph to Ch. 3 of The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K. Le Guin, based upon the 1891 translation by James Legge, Le Guin was subsequently informed that this was a very poor translation, as the lathe had not yet been invented in the time of Zhuangzi. The full passage as translated by Legge reads:
He whose mind is thus grandly fixed emits a Heavenly light. In him who emits this heavenly light men see the (True) man. When a man has cultivated himself (up to this point), thenceforth he remains constant in himself. When he is thus constant in himself, (what is merely) the human element will leave him, but Heaven will help him. Those whom their human element has left we call the people of Heaven. Those whom Heaven helps we call the Sons of Heaven. Those who would by learning attain to this seek for what they cannot learn. Those who would by effort attain to this, attempt what effort can never effect. Those who aim by reasoning to reach it reason where reasoning has no place. To know to stop where they cannot arrive by means of knowledge is the highest attainment. Those who cannot do this will be destroyed on the lathe of Heaven.
  • A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find someone who's forgotten words so I can have a word with him?...
XXVI External Things
  • A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean.
  • The wise man looks into space and does not regard the small as too little, nor the great as too big, for he knows that, there is no limit to dimensions.

Gospel of Thomas (c. 50? — c 140?)[edit]

Whoever shall find the interpretation of these words shall not taste of death.
I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.
Absurdist sayings of Jesus from what some believe to be the earliest extent Gospel, which was not included in the orthodox canon.
  • Whoever shall find the interpretation of these words shall not taste of death.
    • Saying 1
  • The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same.
    • Saying 4
  • Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.
    • Saying 5
  • Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.
    • Saying 7
  • I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.
    • Saying 10
  • This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?
    • Saying 11
  • When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth — it is that which will defile you.
    • Saying 14
  • If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty.
    • Saying 29
  • His disciples said to Him, "When will the Kingdom come?"
    Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
    • Saying 113

Leaves of Grass (1855 - 1892)[edit]

To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
Absurdist expression in the poetry of Walt Whitman
I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face, Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you. ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me... ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
Magnifying and applying come I, outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters... ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern… ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
What is known I strip away, I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown. The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity indicate? ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
Immense have been the preparations for me, faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me. ~ Walt Whitmanin Leaves of Grass
  • Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
    Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
    But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
    before known,
    Arouse! for you must justify me.

    I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
    I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.
    I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,
    Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
    Expecting the main things from you.
    • Poets to Come (1860; 1867)

Song of Myself (1855; 1881)[edit]

Section numbers appear at the end of quotes from this composition
  • I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. (1)
  • To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.

    I and this mystery here we stand. (3)
  • A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
    How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
    I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.


    And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

    What do you think has become of the young and old men?
    And what do you think has become of the women and children?
    They are alive and well somewhere,
    The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
    And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
    And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
    All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
    And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
    (6)
  • I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my hat and boots,
    And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
    The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
    I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
    I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
    (They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
    (7)
  • These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
    If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,
    If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
    If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
    This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,
    This the common air that bathes the globe.
    (17)
  • I know I am august,
    I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
    I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
    (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.) (20)
  • I exist as I am, that is enough,
    If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
    And if each and all be aware I sit content.

    One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
    And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
    I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. (20)
  • Magnifying and applying come I,
    Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters
    ,
    Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
    Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson,
    Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,
    In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved,
    With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image,
    Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,
    Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days,
    (They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,)
    Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,
    Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house,
    Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,
    Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,
    Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars...
    (41)
  • The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough,
    Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd
    ,
    The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes,
    The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious. (42)
  • The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd coats
    I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,)
    I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me,
    What I do and say the same waits for them,
    Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them. (42)
  • My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
    Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern…
    (43)
  • It is time to explain myself — let us stand up.
    What is known I strip away,
    I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
    The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity indicate?

    We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
    Births have brought us richness and variety,
    And other births will bring us richness and variety.
    I do not call one greater and one smaller,
    That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
    Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister?
    I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,
    All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,
    (What have I to do with lamentation?)
    I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of things to be. (44)
  • Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
    Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
    I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
    And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon. (44)
  • Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
    My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.
    For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
    The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
    Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
    Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care.
    All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and delight me,
    Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
    (44)

Through the Looking-Glass (1871)[edit]

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves,
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
Absurdist expressions in the fantasy classic of Lewis Carroll
If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
"The time has come", the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages —and Kings… ~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
He's dreaming now... and what do you think he's dreaming about? ~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. ~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
Ever drifting down the stream — Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream? ~ Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
  • One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: — it was the black kitten's fault entirely.
    • Ch. 1
  • Twas brillig and the slithy toves,
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
    the jaws that bite and claws that scratch
    Beware the jubjub bird
    and shun the frumious bandersnatch."

    • Ch. 1 From Jabberwocky, st. 1, first shown in mirror writing this is widely considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems ever written, and has played an inspirational role in many later works by other authors, including "Mimsy Were The Borogoves" (1943) by Lewis Padgett, and the film which was a very loose adapation of that story, The Last Mimzy (2007).
  • 'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's rather hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, ever to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don't exactly know what they are!"
    • Ch. 1
  • "Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."
    • Ch. 4
  • "The time has come", the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
    Of cabbages — and Kings —
    And why the Sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings."
  • 'He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: 'and what do you think he's dreaming about?'
    Alice said 'Nobody can guess that.'
    'Why, about you!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. 'And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be?'
    'Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.
    'Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. 'You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'
    'If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out — bang! — just like a candle!'
    'I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. 'Besides, if I'm only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you, I should like to know?'
    'Ditto' said Tweedledum.
    'Ditto, ditto!' cried Tweedledee.
    He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, 'Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'
    'Well, it no use your talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, 'when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
    'I am real!' said Alice and began to cry.
    'You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked: 'there's nothing to cry about.'
    'If I wasn't real,' Alice said — half-laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous — 'I shouldn't be able to cry.'
    'I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
    'I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself: 'and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could.
    • Ch. 4
  • "I don't understand you," said Alice. "It's dreadfully confusing!"
    "That's the effect of living backwards," the Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first."
    • Ch. 5
  • It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.
    • Ch. 5, The White Queen
  • Alice laughed. "There's not use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
    "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
    • Ch. 5
  • "My name is Alice, but — "
    "It's a stupid name enough!" Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. "What does it mean?"
    "Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.
    "Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: "my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost."
    • Ch. 6
  • "When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."
    • Ch. 6
  • "I beg your pardon?" said Alice.
    "It isn't respectable to beg," said the King.
    • Ch. 7, White King
  • "It's too late to correct it," said the Red Queen: "when you've once said a thing, that fixes it, and you must take the consequences."
    • Ch. 9
  • "Make a remark," said the Red Queen: "It's ridiculous to leave all conversation to the pudding!"
    • Ch. 9
  • Ever drifting down the stream —
    Lingering in the golden gleam —
    Life, what is it but a dream?
    • Ch. 11

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)[edit]

Alas, how strong a family likeness runs through blind and persecuting humanity in all Dimensions! Points, Lines, Squares, Cubes, Extra-Cubes — we are all liable to the same errors, all alike the Slaves of our respective Dimensional prejudices...
Quotes from this Absurdist work of Edwin Abbott Abbott
He hopes that, taken as a whole, his work may prove suggestive as well as amusing, to those Spacelanders of moderate and modest minds who — speaking of that which is of the highest importance, but lies beyond experience — decline to say on the one hand, "This can never be," and on the other hand, "It must needs be precisely thus, and we know all about it."
Besotted Being! You think yourself the perfection of existence, while you are in reality the most imperfect and imbecile. You profess to see, whereas you can see nothing but a Point!
From dreams I proceed to facts.
Even a Sphere — which is my proper name in my own country — if he manifest himself at all to an inhabitant of Flatland — must needs manifest himself as a Circle.
Learn this lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy.
  • It is as natural for us Flatlanders to lock up a Square for preaching the Third Dimension, as it is for you Spacelanders to lock up a Cube for preaching the Fourth. Alas, how strong a family likeness runs through blind and persecuting humanity in all Dimensions! Points, Lines, Squares, Cubes, Extra-Cubes — we are all liable to the same errors, all alike the Slaves of our respective Dimensional prejudices, as one of your Spaceland poets has said —

        'One touch of Nature makes all worlds akin.'

    • Preface to the Second and Revised Edition (1884)
  • "I see a fulfilment of the great Law of all worlds, that while the wisdom of Man thinks it is working one thing, the wisdom of Nature constrains it to work another, and quite a different and far better thing."' For the rest, he begs his readers not to suppose that every minute detail in the daily life of Flatland must needs correspond to some other detail in Spaceland; and yet he hopes that, taken as a whole, his work may prove suggestive as well as amusing, to those Spacelanders of moderate and modest minds who — speaking of that which is of the highest importance, but lies beyond experience — decline to say on the one hand, "This can never be," and on the other hand, "It must needs be precisely thus, and we know all about it."
    • Preface to the Second and Revised Edition (1884)
  • Though we cannot SEE angles, we can INFER them, and this with great precision. Our sense of touch, stimulated by necessity, and developed by long training, enables us to distinguish angles far more accurately than your sense of sight, when unaided by a rule or measure of angles.
    • Chapter 5. Of Our Methods of Recognizing One Another
  • An illustrious Circle, overcome by the artistic beauty of the forces under his command, threw aside his marshal's baton and his royal crown, exclaiming that he henceforth exchanged them for the artist's pencil. How great and glorious the sensuous development of these days must have been is in part indicated by the very language and vocabulary of the period. The commonest utterances of the commonest citizens in the time of the Colour Revolt seem to have been suffused with a richer tinge of word or thought; and to that era we are even now indebted for our finest poetry and for whatever rhythm still remains in the more scientific utterance of these modern days.
    • Chapter 8. Of the Ancient Practice of Painting
  • It seemed that this poor ignorant Monarch — as he called himself — was persuaded that the Straight Line which he called his Kingdom, and in which he passed his existence, constituted the whole of the world, and indeed the whole of Space. Not being able either to move or to see, save in his Straight Line, he had no conception of anything out of it. Though he had heard my voice when I first addressed him, the sounds had come to him in a manner so contrary to his experience that he had made no answer, "seeing no man", as he expressed it, "and hearing a voice as it were from my own intestines."
    • Chapter 13. How I had a Vision of Lineland
  • Besotted Being! You think yourself the perfection of existence, while you are in reality the most imperfect and imbecile. You profess to see, whereas you can see nothing but a Point! You plume yourself on inferring the existence of a Straight Line; but I CAN SEE Straight Lines, and infer the existence of Angles, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and even Circles. Why waste more words? Suffice it that I am the completion of your incomplete self. You are a Line, but I am a Line of Lines, called in my country a Square: and even I, infinitely superior though I am to you, am of little account among the great nobles of Flatland, whence I have come to visit you, in the hope of enlightening your ignorance.
    • Chapter 14. How I Vainly Tried to Explain the Nature of Flatland
  • From dreams I proceed to facts.
    • Chapter 15. Concerning a Stranger from Spaceland
  • "I am indeed, in a certain sense a Circle," replied the Voice, "and a more perfect Circle than any in Flatland; but to speak more accurately, I am many Circles in one."
    • Chapter 15. Concerning a Stranger from Spaceland
  • The very fact that a Line is visible implies that it possesses yet another Dimension.
    • Chapter 16. How the Stranger Vainly Endeavoured to Reveal to Me in Words the Mysteries of Spaceland
  • I am not a plane Figure, but a Solid. You call me a Circle; but in reality I am not a Circle, but an infinite number of Circles, of size varying from a Point to a Circle of thirteen inches in diameter, one placed on the top of the other. When I cut through your plane as I am now doing, I make in your plane a section which you, very rightly, call a Circle. For even a Sphere — which is my proper name in my own country — if he manifest himself at all to an inhabitant of Flatland — must needs manifest himself as a Circle.
    • Chapter 16. How the Stranger Vainly Endeavoured to Reveal to Me in Words the Mysteries of Spaceland
  • My volition shrinks from the painful task of recalling my humiliation; yet, like a second Prometheus, I will endure this and worse, if by any means I may arouse in the interiors of Plane and Solid Humanity a spirit of rebellion against the Conceit which would limit our Dimensions to Two or Three or any number short of Infinity. Away then with all personal considerations!
    • Chapter 19. How, Though the Sphere Showed Me Other Mysteries of Spaceland, I Still Desired More; and What Came of It
  • "Behold yon miserable creature. That Point is a Being like ourselves, but confined to the non-dimensional Gulf. He is himself his own World, his own Universe; of any other than himself he can form no conception; he knows not Length, nor Breadth, nor Height, for he has had no experience of them; he has no cognizance even of the number Two; nor has he a thought of Plurality; for he is himself his One and All, being really Nothing. Yet mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn this lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy. Now listen."
    He ceased; and there arose from the little buzzing creature a tiny, low, monotonous, but distinct tinkling, as from one of your Spaceland phonographs, from which I caught these words, "Infinite beatitude of existence! It is; and there is none else beside It."
    • Chapter 20. How the Sphere Encouraged Me in a Vision
  • I so far forgot myself as to give an exact account of the whole of my voyage with the Sphere into Space, and to the Assembly Hall in our Metropolis, and then to Space again, and of my return home, and of everything that I had seen and heard in fact or vision. At first, indeed, I pretended that I was describing the imaginary experiences of a fictitious person; but my enthusiasm soon forced me to throw off all disguise, and finally, in a fervent peroration, I exhorted all my hearers to divest themselves of prejudice and to become believers in the Third Dimension.
    Need I say that I was at once arrested and taken before the Council?
    • Chapter 22. How I Then Tried to Diffuse the Theory of Three Dimensions by Other Means, and of the Result
  • I am absolutely destitute of converts, and, for aught that I can see, the millennial Revelation has been made to me for nothing. Prometheus up in Spaceland was bound for bringing down fire for mortals, but I — poor Flatland Prometheus — lie here in prison for bringing down nothing to my countrymen. Yet I exist in the hope that these memoirs, in some manner, I know not how, may find their way to the minds of humanity in Some Dimension, and may stir up a race of rebels who shall refuse to be confined to limited Dimensionality.
    That is the hope of my brighter moments. Alas, it is not always so. Heavily weighs on me at times the burdensome reflection that I cannot honestly say I am confident as to the exact shape of the once-seen, oft-regretted Cube; and in my nightly visions the mysterious precept, "Upward, not Northward", haunts me like a soul-devouring Sphinx. It is part of the martyrdom which I endure for the cause of the Truth that there are seasons of mental weakness, when Cubes and Spheres flit away into the background of scarce-possible existences; when the Land of Three Dimensions seems almost as visionary as the Land of One or None; nay, when even this hard wall that bars me from my freedom, these very tablets on which I am writing, and all the substantial realities of Flatland itself, appear no better than the offspring of a diseased imagination, or the baseless fabric of a dream.
    • Chapter 22. How I Then Tried to Diffuse the Theory of Three Dimensions by Other Means, and of the Result

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)[edit]

Quotes of absurdist observations from this work of Albert Camus
All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly. ~ Albert Camus
The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. ~ Albert Camus
A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing. ~ Albert Camus
  • A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.
    • An Absurd Reasoning
  • At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
    • An Absurd Reasoning
  • The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
    • An Absurd Reasoning
  • The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world. This must not be forgotten. This must be clung to because the whole consequence of a life can depend on it. The irrational, the human nostalgia, and the absurd that is born of their encounter — these are the three characters in the drama that must necessarily end with all the logic of which an existence is capable.
    • The Absurd Man
  • What, in fact, is the Absurd Man? He who, without negating it, does nothing for the eternal.
    • The Absurd Man
  • I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules. There is but one moral code that the absurd man can accept, the one that is not separated from God: the one that is dictated. But it so happens that he lives outside that God. As for the others (I mean also immoralism), the absurd man sees nothing in them but justifications and he has nothing to justify. I start out here from the principle of his innocence.
    That innocence is to be feared.
    "Everything is permitted," exclaims Ivan Karamazov. That, too, smacks of the absurd. But on condition that it not be taken in a vulgar sense. I don't know whether or not it has been sufficiently pointed out that it is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitter acknowledgment of a fact.
    • The Absurd Man
  • The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. "Everything is permitted" does not mean that nothing is forbidden.
    • The Absurd Man
  • All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly. It is ready to pay up. In other words, there may be responsible persons, but there are no guilty ones, in its opinion. At very most, such a mind will consent to use past experience as a basis for its future actions.
    • The Absurd Man
  • You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them.
  • One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. "What! — by such narrow ways — ?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd. Discovery. It happens as well that the felling of the absurd springs from happiness.
    • The Myth of Sisyphus
  • "I conclude that all is well," says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.
    • The Myth of Sisyphus
  • I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
    • The Myth of Sisyphus
    • Original French: La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d'homme; il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.
    • Variant translation: The fight itself towards the summits suffices to fill a heart of man; it is necessary to imagine Sisyphus happy.
  • A symbol is always in general and, however precise its translation, an artist can restore to it only its movement: there is no word-for-word rendering. Moreover, nothing is harder to understand than a symbolic work. A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing.
    • Appendix: Hope and the Absurd in the work of Franz Kafka

The Stranger (1942)[edit]

Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. ~ Albert Camus
Quotes of absurdist statements from this work of Albert Camus
  • Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure.
    • First sentences of the novel; some translations retain the original Maman.
  • I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another. I had done this and I hadn't done that. I hadn't done this thing but I had done another. And so? It was as if I had waited all this time for this moment and for the first light of this dawn to be vindicated. Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people's deaths or a mother's love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we're all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him who also called themselves my brothers? Couldn't he see, couldn't he see that? Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned, too.
  • I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.
    • Variant translation: As if the blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.


Principia Discordia (c. 1965)[edit]

"Three pounds of flax."
GP: Is that the answer to my question?
M2: No, of course not. That is just illustrative... ~ Principia Discordia
Some assertions of the Absurdist "catma" of the Discordians, written by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) and Kerry Thornley (Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst); for more from this work see the page for Principia Discordia
Everything in the universe relates to the number 5, one way or another, given enough ingenuity on the part of the interpreter. ~ Principia Discordia
Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now. It is called THE CURSE OF GREYFACE ~ Principia Discordia
All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense... ~ Principia Discordia
The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians... ~ Principia Discordia
  • THE PRINCIPIA DISCORDIA
    or, How I Found the Goddess and What I Did To Her When I Found Her
    THE MAGNUM OPIATE OF MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER
    Wherein Is Explained Absolutely Everything Worth Knowing About Absolutely Anything
Eris symbol 2.svg ALL RITES REVERSED (K) REPRINT WHAT YOU LIKE
  • There are no rules anywhere.
    The Goddess Prevails.
  • All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.
    • The Free Mantra of Sri Syadasti Syadavaktavya Syadasti Syannasti Syadasti Cavaktavyasca Syadasti Syannasti Syadavatavyasca Syadasti Syannasti Syadavaktavyasca (for some strange reason, commonly called Sri Syadasti)
    • Also heretically expressed as: "All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense." and "The teachings of the Sri Syadasti School of Spiritual School of Spiritual Wisdom are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense." — will heresies never cease?
  • Curb Your Dogma.
  • The Enlightened take things Lightly.
  • Sometimes I take humor seriously. Sometimes I take seriousness humorously. Either way it is irrelevant.
  • GP: Maybe you are just crazy.
    M2: Indeed! But do not reject these teachings as false because I am crazy. The reason that I am crazy is because they are true.

    GP: Is Eris true?
    M2: Everything is true.
    GP: Even false things?
    M2: Even false things are true.
    GP: How can that be?
    M2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.

    GP: Why do you deal with so many negatives?
    M2: To dissolve them.
    GP: Will you develop that point?
    M2: No.

  • GP: Is there an essential meaning behind POEE?
    M2: There is a Zen Story about a student who asked a Master to explain the meaning of Buddhism. The Master's reply was "Three pounds of flax."
    GP: Is that the answer to my question?
    M2: No, of course not. That is just illustrative. The answer to your question is FIVE TONS OF FLAX!
  • Everything in the universe relates to the number 5, one way or another, given enough ingenuity on the part of the interpreter.
  • A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing what he reads.
    IT IS SO WRITTEN! SO BE IT. HAIL DISCORDIA! PROSECUTORS WILL BE TRANSGRESSICUTED.
  • In the year 1166 B.C., a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface, got it into his head that the universe was as humorless as he, and he began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of Serious Order. "Look at all that order about you," he said. And from that, he deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it.
    It is not presently understood why men were so gullible at that particular time, for absolutely no one thought to observe all the DISORDER around them and conclude just the opposite. But anyway, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and were not unknown even to destroy other living beings whose ways of life differed from their own.
    The unfortunate result of this is that mankind has since been suffering from a psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.

    It is called THE CURSE OF GREYFACE.

  • We work toward the proposition that creative disorder, like creative order, is possible and desirable; and that destructive order, like destructive disorder, is unnecessary and undesirable.
  • NONSENSE AS SALVATION

    The human race will begin solving its problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously.
    To that end, POEE proposes the countergame of NONSENSE AS SALVATION. Salvation from an ugly and barbarous existence that is the result of taking order so seriously and so seriously fearing contrary orders and disorder, that GAMES are taken as more important than LIFE; rather than taking LIFE AS THE ART OF PLAYING GAMES.
    To this end, we propose that man develop his innate love for disorder, and play with The Goddess Eris. And know that it is a joyful play, and that thereby CAN BE REVOKED THE CURSE OF GREYFACE.

    • The Golden Secret
  • THE SACRED CHAO is the key to illumination. Devised by the Apostle Hung Mung in ancient China, it was modified and popularized by the Taoists and is sometimes called the YIN-YANG. The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians.
  • The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone need ever know about absolutely anything, and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.
  • If you think the PRINCIPIA is just a ha-ha, then go read it again.
    • THUS ENDS PRINCIPIA DISCORDIA

Space Chantey (1968)[edit]

By my attention I hold it all in being. Nothing exists unless it is perceived. ~ R. A. Lafferty
An Absurdist comedic space-fantasy by R. A. Lafferty, based upon the Odyssey of Homer and other tales of mythology and folklore.
Death is for a long time. Those of shallow thought say that it is forever. There is, at least, a long night of it. ~ R. A. Lafferty
My complaint won't hold for ninety days. I accuse you people of eating men. ~ R. A. Lafferty
I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. ~ R. A. Lafferty
If you have come with high expectations of anything, you have come to the wrong place. ~ R. A. Lafferty
You show signs of levity, and that is the one thing not permitted here. This place is for serious persons only. ~ R. A. Lafferty
Make no mistake, this only seems
the end of it. ~ R. A. Lafferty
  • When we travel we find how greatly our boyhood dreams are outstripped by reality.
    • Captain Roadstrum, about the planet Lotophage, Ch. 1
  • There are no rules. We do whatever seems the most fun.
    • Bjorn to Captain Roadstrum, Ch. 2
  • Death is for a long time. Those of shallow thought say that it is forever. There is, at least, a long night of it. There is the forgetfulness and the loss of identity. The spirit, even as the body, is unstrung and burst and scattered. One goes down to death, and it leaves a mark on one forever.
    • On death and the nightly resurrection of the slain on Valhal, Ch. 2
  • There are skies we have not seen yet! There are whole realms still unvisited by us. We will not be penned in even a giant's pen. We fly!
    • Captain Roadstrum, Ch. 2
  • I will never tell anyone how much fun it is in this place.
    • Oath by Captain Roadstrum not to tell how much fun Valhal is, written in blood from the roots of his torn-out tongue, Ch. 2
  • Wrong prong, bong gong.
    • Instructions for the use of a Dong button, which reverses the flow of time for the wielder, if there has been a dire error made which needs correcting, Ch. 3
  • They were down on Kentron-Kosmon, an insignificant world. And yet, in the middle of Space-Port there (a cow pasture rather; it wasn't much of a spaceport) there was a nice plaque of electrum and on it was lettered: This is the Exact Center of the Universe.
    • Ch. 4
  • I'm the guy who keeps it all going. If I weren't here, you wouldn't be here either. I know it all, I'm a smart-aleck. Loan-sharking and fencing. Any time I can't see you, you've had it.
    • Sign on the booth of "the big fellow" of Kentron-Kosmon, Atlas, in Ch. 3
  • It isn't my profundity that makes me a mental marvel, it's the amazing detail of my perception. There's nobody else who can keep so many things on his mind at once.
    • Atlas, in Ch. 4
  • The law of levity is allowed to supersede the law of gravity.
    • Atlas, in Ch. 4
  • I tried to tell you, but words will not convey it. One has to be inside it to comprehend the magnitude. … It was the beginning. It's the only thing there is. But it was haphazard for so many aeons that it spooks me to think about it. There were always three or four maintaining it, but there was no one person strong enough to take it all over. "Somewhere there must be someone strong enough to take it all over," I said to myself in a direful moment, but the strongest person I could think of was myself. I've been doing it ever since. … By my attention I hold it all in being. Nothing exists unless it is perceived. If perception fails for a moment, then that thing fails forever. … I hate to be misjudged. They say that I bear it all on my shoulders, as though I were a stud or a balk. It's not on my great shoulders, it is amazing head on my great shoulders that maintains all.
    • Atlas, on bearing the burden of maintaining the worlds, in Ch. 4
  • An excess of science will leave none of us alive.
    • Roadstrum to Puckett, on using crew members to test the lethality of the Siren-Zo, in Ch. 4
  • Roadstrum had always believed that he had troubles enough of his own. He seldom borrowed trouble, and never on usurious terms. He knew that it was a solid thing that sheep do not gather in taverns and drink beer, not even potato beer; that they do not sing, not even badly; that they do not tell stories. But a stranger can easily make trouble for himself on a strange world by challenging local customs.
    "But I am the greet Roadstrum," he said, suddenly and loudly. "I am a great one for winning justice for the lowly, and I do not scare easily. I threw the great Atlas at the wrestle, and who else can say as much? I suffer from the heroic sickness every third day about nightfall, and I am not sure whether this is the third day or not. I say you are men and not sheep. I say: Arise and be men indeed!"
    "It has been tried before," said Roadstrum's friend, the sheep, "and it didn't work."
    "You have tried a revolt, and it failed?"
    "No, no, another man tried to incite us to revolt, and failed."
    • Ch. 5, on Polyphemia
  • "Strangers may not lodge complaints till they have been in residence here for ninety days," the Cacique said, "and no stranger has ever remained with us that long."
    "My complaint won't hold for ninety days. I accuse you people of eating men."
    • Ch. 5
  • "I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. I manipulate noumena, regarding monads as points of entry tangential to hylomorphism. As to the paradox of Primary Essence being contained in Quiddity, the larger in the smaller, I have my own solution. The difficulty is always in not confusing Contingency with Accidence. Do you understand me?"
    "Sure. You're a witch."
  • Do you not know that the underground lands are shared by many worlds? It is all one underground, a vast place, and it is but a trick on which globe one will surface on coming out. This is the reason that the inside of every world is so much vaster than the outside. You are fooled by the shape of these little balls on which things live and crawl; you see the universe inside out; you see the orbs as containing and not contained. I will teach you to see it right if you please me.
    • Aeaea, Ch. 6
  • I am the consummate scientist, Road-Storm. Science has suffered in having her name applied to mechanics, an ugly step-child of hers. Matter herself is a humiliation to the serious. We cannot make it vanish forever, but can make it seem to. For my purpose that is even better. All matter can be modified as long as it is kept subjective. Let us keep it so. … Those who fail to understand my science may call it magic or hypnotism or deception. But it is only my projection of total subjectivity.
    • Aeaea, Ch. 6
  • Something was working in Roadstrum's little ape head. When he had been a man he had always known when it was time for action; particularly he had always known the last moment when action was still possible. He knew now that that moment was come very near. … Then a blinding light burst upon Roadstrum, and he saw the truth of the situation. Many things Roadstrum was not, and it was sometimes wondered why he was the natural leader of all the men. He was their leader because he was a man on whom the blinding light sometimes descended.
    • Ch. 6
  • It was the most exclusive club in the world, in all the worlds, and this is a mighty pale statement to make about it. Let us emphasize that it was hard to get into.
    • On "The Club" AKA the High Liar's Club, Ch. 7
  • "This is the Improbable Club," said the President-Emeritus in a heavy muffled voice, "and you things have made an improbable entry. Many unqualified persons have attempted to crash this Club, but you have done it literally. Whether you will be able to qualify for our high membership is another thing. It will not matter. We accept, for a brief moment at least, all who come here as members. We will quickly measure you one way or another. We have no living ex-members. Sit you down, all, and unwind your ears. Remember, each topper must be topped."
    • Ch. 7
  • Be not nervous. In a very little while you will either be a member or you will not be.
    • Ch. 7
  • If you have come with high expectations of anything, you have come to the wrong place.
  • You show signs of levity, and that is the one thing not permitted here. This place is for serious persons only. If you are not serious now, by hell you'll get serious pretty quick!
  • This petty place cannot be Hell, Roadstrum? Ah, but it is my friend. That, you see, is the hell of it.
    • Tiresias, Ch. 7
  • "I'm doing pretty good. I'm a seminal genius, they say, and I have the most sophisticated tools ever devised to work with. And I do build some good things for them. I'm quite successful. I'll tell you something, though. In the daytime, with all those sophisticated tools, and particularly if someone's watching me, I just stall around. But at night — "
    "Ah, at night! What do you do then, Hondstarfer?"
    "Put away those damned sophisticated tools and get my stone hammers. That's when I build the good stuff. Don't give me away, though, Roadstrum.
    • Ch. 8, Hondstarfer of Valhal, speaking of his work as a design engineer.
  • I will be double-damned to a better Hell than Hellpepper Planet if I will have my ending here in peace! Peace be not the end of my epic! An epic is already failed if it have an ending. I don't care how it ended the first time — it will not end the same now!
    • Roadstrum, in Ch. 8
  • His soaring vaunt escaped the blooming ears of us,
    He's gone, he's dead, he's dirt, he disappears from us!

    Be this the death of highest thrust of human all?
    The flaming end of bright and shining crewmen all?

    Destroyed? His road is run? It's but a bend of it;
    Make no mistake, this only seems

the end of it.
  • Ch. 8

The Paris Review interview of Eugène Ionesco (1984)[edit]

The Pataphysique is not dead. It lives on in the minds of certain men, even if they are not aware of it. It has gone into “occultation,” as we say, and will come back again one day. ~ Eugène Ionesco
Absurdist observations of Eugène Ionesco, in "Eugene Ionesco, The Art of Theater No. 6" interviewed by Shusha Guppy, in Paris Review (Fall 1984), No. 93
When Rhinoceros was produced in Germany, it had fifty curtain calls. The next day the papers wrote, “Ionesco shows us how we became Nazis.” But in Moscow, they wanted me to rewrite it and make sure that it dealt with Nazism and not with their kind of totalitarianism. ~ Eugène Ionesco
  • None of us would have written as we do without surrealism and dadaism. By liberating the language, those movements paved the way for us.
  • The purpose of the Collège was the demolition of culture, even of surrealism, which they considered too organized. But make no mistake, these people were graduates of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and highly cultured. Their method was based on puns and practical jokes—le canular. There is a great tradition of puns in Anglo-Saxon literature — Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland — but not in French. So they adopted it. They believed that the science of sciences is the pataphysique and its dogma, le canular.
    • le canular refers to hoaxes, humorous deceptions.
  • We exist on several different planes, and when we said nothing had any reason we were referring to the psychological and social plane.
  • The Pataphysique is not dead. It lives on in the minds of certain men, even if they are not aware of it. It has gone into “occultation,” as we say, and will come back again one day.
  • The theater chose me. As I said, I started with poetry, and I also wrote criticism and dialogue. But I realized that I was most successful at dialogue. Perhaps I abandoned criticism because I am full of contradictions, and when you write an essay you are not supposed to contradict yourself. But in the theater, by inventing various characters, you can. My characters are contradictory not only in their language, but in their behavior as well.
  • I found ancestors, like Shakespeare, who said, in Macbeth, that the world is full of sound and fury, a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. Macbeth is a victim of fate. So is Oedipus. But what happens to them is not absurd in the eyes of destiny, because destiny, or fate, has its own norms, its own morality, its own laws, which cannot be flouted with impunity. Oedipus sleeps with his Mummy, kills his Daddy, and breaks the laws of fate. He must pay for it by suffering. It is tragic and absurd, but at the same time it’s reassuring and comforting, since the idea is that if we don’t break destiny’s laws, we should be all right. Not so with our characters. They have no metaphysics, no order, no law. They are miserable and they don’t know why. They are puppets, undone. In short, they represent modern man. Their situation is not tragic, since it has no relation to a higher order. Instead, it’s ridiculous, laughable, and derisory.
  • The French Revolution liberated people from the power of the aristocrats. But the bourgeoisie that took over represented the exploitation of man by man, and had to be destroyed—as in the Russian Revolution, which then degenerated into totalitarianism, Stalinism, and genocide. The more you make revolutions, the worse it gets. Man is driven by evil instincts that are often stronger than moral laws … there is a higher order, but man can separate himself from it because he is free — which is what we have done. We have lost the sense of this higher order, and things will get worse and worse, culminating perhaps in a nuclear holocaust — the destruction predicted in the Apocalyptic texts. Only our apocalypse will be absurd and ridiculous because it will not be related to any transcendence. Modern man is a puppet, a jumping jack.
  • You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world — which is why it doesn’t work. I don’t share this heresy. I’m too afraid! But I put it in a play called This Extraordinary Brothel, in which the protagonist doesn’t talk at all. There is a revolution, everybody kills everybody else, and he doesn’t understand. But at the very end, he speaks for the first time. He points his finger towards the sky and shakes it at God, saying, “You rogue! You little rogue!” and he bursts out laughing. He understands that the world is an enormous farce, a canular played by God against man, and that he has to play God’s game and laugh about it.
    • canular refers to hoaxes, humorous deceptions.
  • Béranger represents the modern man. He is a victim of totalitarianism — of both kinds of totalitarianism, of the Right and of the Left. When Rhinoceros was produced in Germany, it had fifty curtain calls. The next day the papers wrote, “Ionesco shows us how we became Nazis.” But in Moscow, they wanted me to rewrite it and make sure that it dealt with Nazism and not with their kind of totalitarianism. In Buenos Aires, the military government thought it was an attack on Perónism.
  • People always try to find base motives behind every good action. We are afraid of pure goodness and of pure evil.
  • I let characters and symbols emerge from me, as if I were dreaming. I always use what remains of my dreams of the night before. Dreams are reality at its most profound, and what you invent is truth because invention, by its nature, can’t be a lie. Writers who try to prove something are unattractive to me, because there is nothing to prove and everything to imagine. So I let words and images emerge from within. If you do that, you might prove something in the process.
  • I have always regretted having gotten involved with literature up to my neck. I would have preferred to have been a monk; but, as I said, I was torn between wanting fame and wishing to renounce the world. The basic problem is that if God exists, what is the point of literature? And if He doesn’t exist, what is the point of literature? Either way, my writing, the only thing I have ever succeeded in doing, is invalidated.
  • To introduce people to a different world, to encounter the miracle of being, that is important. When I write “The train arrives at the station,” it is banal, but at the same time sensational, because it is invented.

Disturbing the Peace (1986)[edit]

The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why, and how it is said. ~ Václav Havel
Absurdist observations of Václav Havel from Disturbing the Peace : A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala; English translation by Paul Wilson (1990)
The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him. ~ Václav Havel
  • 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.
    • Ch. 2 : Writing for the Stage
  • The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why, and how it is said.
    • Ch. 2 : Writing for the Stage
  • The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him.
    • Ch. 2 : Writing for the Stage
  • Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
    • Ch. 5 : The Politics of Hope
  • A human action becomes genuinely important when it springs from the soil of a clearsighted awareness of the temporality and the ephemorality of everything human. It is only this awareness that can breathe any greatness into an action.
    • Ch. 5 : The Politics of Hope
  • Without the constantly living and articulated eperience of absurdity, there would be no reason to attempt to do something meaningful. And on the contrary, how can one experience one's own absurdity if one is not constantly seeking meaning?
    • Ch. 5 : The Politics of Hope
  • The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning — in other words, of absurdity — the more energetically meaning is sought.
    • Ch. 5 : The Politics of Hope

The Green Mile (1996)[edit]

I'm rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss. I'm tired of bein on the road, lonely as a robin in the rain. ~ Stephen King
Absurdist work by Stephen King, originally published in a serialized edition with six parts: The Two Dead Girls, The Mouse on the Mile, Coffey's Hands, The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, Night Journey, and Coffey on the Mile
File:Jesus-wept-large.jpg
The tears were flowing again, but he smiled. "That's how it is every day", he said, "all over the world." ~ Stephen King
  • He looked like he could have snapped the chains that held him as easily as you might snap the ribbons on a Christmas present, but when you looked in his face, you knew he wasn't going to do anything like that.
  • "I'm rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss. I'm tired of bein on the road, lonely as a robin in the rain. Not never havin no buddy to go on with or tell me where we's comin from or goin' to or why. I'm tired of people bein ugly to each other. It feels like pieces of glass in my head. I'm tired of all the times I've wanted to help and couldn't. I'm tired of bein in the dark. Mostly it's the pain. There's too much. If I could end it, I would. But I cain't.
  • "He kill them with they love", John said. "They love for each other. You see how it was?" I nodded, incapable of speech.
    He smiled. The tears were flowing again, but he smiled. "That's how it is every day", he said, "all over the world."
  • We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long.

Everything Is Under Control (1998)[edit]

Some absurdist observations of Robert Anton Wilson from Everything Is Under Control : Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups (1998)
The major offense of Masonry to orthodox churches is that it, like our First Amendment, encourages equal tolerance for all religions, and this tends, somewhat, to lessen dogmatic allegiance to any one religion. ~ Robert Anton Wilson
The AA must rank as the most secretive secret society in the world. ~ Robert Anton Wilson
Occult historians generally agree that V.V.V.V.V. signified Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici ("By the force of truth I have conquered the universe") ~ Robert Anton Wilson
  • You simply cannot invent any conspiracy theory so ridiculous and obviously satirical that some people somewhere don't already believe it.
    • Introduction, p. 16
  • The AA must rank as the most secretive secret society in the world. Perhaps nobody, not even the few writers who have discussed it, knows for sure when the AA began, which group claiming to be the AA at present is the real AA, or even what the symbols AA stand for — although many claim to know these things of course. … Occult historians generally agree that V.V.V.V.V. signified Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici ("By the force of truth I have conquered the universe"), one of the eleven magic mottoes of Aleister Crowley.
    • On conspiracy theories involving the AA, and the leader, known only by the initials V.V.V.V.V., in AA, p. 21 - 22
  • The major offense of Masonry to orthodox churches is that it, like our First Amendment, encourages equal tolerance for all religions, and this tends, somewhat, to lessen dogmatic allegiance to any one religion. Those who insist you must accept their dogma fervently and renounce all others as devilish errors, correctly see this Masonic tendency as inimitable [sic] — to their faith.
    • Freemasonry, p. 187; in the final sentence here, inimitable perhaps should be "inimicable"
  • "Elohim," the name for the creative power in Genesis, is a female plural, a fact that generations of learned rabbis and Christian theologians have all explained as merely grammatical convention. The King James and most other Bibles translate it as "God," but if you take the grammar literally, it seems to mean "goddesses." Al Shaddai, god of battles, appears later, and YHWH, mispronounced Jehovah, later still.
    • Genesis, p. 197
  • You need the "is of identity" to describe conspiracy theories. Korzybski would say that proves that illusions, delusions, and "mental" illnesses require the "is" to perpetuate them. (He often said, "Isness is an illness.")
    Korzybski also popularized the idea that most sentences, especially the sentences that people quarrel over or even go to war over, do not rank as propositions in the logical sense, but belong to the category that Bertrand Russell called propositional functions. They do not have one meaning, as a proposition in logic should have; they have several meanings, like an algebraic function.
    • Language as Conspiracy, p. 277

The Meaning of It All (1999)[edit]

Absurdist observations of Richard Feynman in The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist (1999) a collection of three guest lectures gave at the University of Washington.
Some people say, "How can you live without knowing?" I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know. ~ Richard Feynman
If you ask naive but relevant questions, then almost immediately the person doesn't know the answer, if he is an honest man. ~ Richard Feynman
  • Some people say, "How can you live without knowing?" I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know.
  • All other aspects and characteristics of science can be understood directly when we understand that observation is the ultimate and final judge of the truth of an idea. But "prove" used in this way really means "test," in the same way that a hundred-proof alcohol is a test of the alcohol, and for people today the idea really should be translated as, "The exception tests the rule." Or, put another way, "The exception proves that the rule is wrong." That is the principle of science. If there is an exception to any rule, and if it can be proved by observation, that rule is wrong.
  • If you ask naïve but relevant questions, then almost immediately the person doesn't know the answer, if he is an honest man.
  • Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.
  • The fact that you are not sure means that it is possible that there is another way someday.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999)[edit]

I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough. ~ Richard Feynman
Absurdist observations of Richard Feynman in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out : The Best Short Works of Richard Feynman, edited by Jeffery Robbins
  • I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about a little, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
    • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
    • From lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964).
  • Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation ... Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
    • Pages 186-187. Based on transcriptions from an interview made in 1981.
  • The remark which I read somewhere, that science is all right as long as it doesn't attack religion, was the clue I needed to understand the problem. As long as it doesn't attack religion it need not be paid attention to and nobody has to learn anything. So it can be cut off from society except for its applications, and thus be isolated. And then we have this terrible struggle to try to explain things to people who have no reason to want to know. But if they want to defend their own point of view, they will have to learn what yours is a little bit. So I suggest, maybe correctly and perhaps wrongly, that we are too polite.
    • From lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, 1964.
  • We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don't know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.
    • From lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, 1964.
  • I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.
    • From "The Smartest Man in the World" an interview in Omni magazine

Hearts in Atlantis (1999)[edit]

Absurdist work by Stephen King
I don't think time matters much if you're a Breaker. ~ Stephen King
  • I cried, all right. I sat there at my desk and I cried for her, for me, for both of us, for all of us. I can't remember hurting any more in my life than I did then. Hearts are tough, she said, most times hearts don't break, and I'm sure that's right … but what about then? What about who we were then? What about hearts in Atlantis?
    • Hearts in Atlantis, § 42
  • I don't think time matters much if you're a Breaker.
    • Bobby, in Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling

External links[edit]

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