From the Horse's Mouth

On the Absurd

Posted in 1 by theskinhorse on December 10, 2009

My voice is one of the Absurd Human. (Why I dig Absurdism.)

Absurdism seems not to be a popular philosophy. I have heard it be regarded as tragic, pessimistic, oppressive, and depressive. How can one find solace in a philosophy that strips the human condition of hope and inherent meaning? What is left of a human when there is no rational, meaningful, reasonable or gracious Universe to which to appeal? Where is a human to turn in the face of an irrational, meaningless, unreasonable, or indifferent Universe? The answer of the Absurd Human is: everything and one’s Self.  The face of the Absurd Human is one filled with liberation, rebellion and passion; a life more full of life than any who appeals to something other than one’s Self and one’s option of creation of meaning. Personally, I don’t know if I would regard myself (or our kind… or any other really) as ‘reasonable,’ so acknowledging an ‘unreasonable’ Universe is not difficult for me.

But… I suppose, it is logical to start at a kind of ‘beginning.’ What is Absurdism? Absurdism teeters adjacent to the spheres of Existentialism and Nihilism. Some regard Absurdists as the ‘agnostics of all agnostics,’ though I would not quite agree. Absurdists don’t really make a declaration of “I don’t know,” and neither is it necessary for them to declare “I don’t care.” Absurdists are more likely to be heard saying something like “I wouldn’t discount it entirely, nor would I bet on it,” “It only matters as much as you deem it,” or “Sure…” with a curious grin. The Absurdist recognizes that inherent meaning is no more than an abstract concept, and that the human condition to appeal to meaning is a lovely paradox in a meaningless Universe. Does this mean that we should not seek to create our own meaning? For the Existentialist, the answer is “No;” for the Nihilist the answer is “Yes.”

The Absurdist will either


Remain silent


Or grin.

“Answers, smanswers. Language and logic fail many times where the open spaces fill themselves.”

Neither the Universe or human thought is absurd, it is the disharmony and contradiction between/among them.

In many ways, the Absurd Human is freer than any other. With no inherent value system and no implicit or explicit ‘rules,’ one is free to live as one Will. Looking over the works of Camus again, I found a statement that many of you will recognize in his description of the Absurdist: “Everything is permitted.” The Absurd Human may not give this sentiment lip service, but in deed, the actions of the Absurdist will likely exemplify it. The Absurdist recognizes the responsibility in actions, but s/he does not fear it. To be responsible for one’s actions is to exemplify freedom of choice.

If Absurdism has taught me nothing else, it is to laugh when given the choice… and one always has a choice.

So, we have addressed the Liberation aspect of Absurdism; we move on to Rebellion. To quote Camus: “A rebel is a man who says ‘No.’” The rebel in the context of Absurdism says “No” to turning to ‘God’ and to abandoning and/or exalting reason. The Absurd Human can, by his/her actions, choose to and live in revolt of meaningless. “I may acknowledge meaninglessness, but that is no reason to stop living. I live in spite of meaning or meaninglessness. I Will to live; I live to live.” The Absurdist can and will protest against the very condition in which s/he recognizes and finds her/himself. Suicide is never an option, and turning to a higher power is considered ‘philosophical suicide.’ The Absurdist relies on the Self, the power of the Self, the ability to assert one’s Will in the face of what might be considered humanity’s greatest fear or oppressor. Does the struggle define one? Perhaps… if the Absurd Human is interested in definitions at all.

What about the passion? Passion is very much a phenomenon of the Here & Now, something the Absurdist can naturally embrace. With no limitations on one’s ability to feel, think, be or do, the Absurdist can explore the spectrum and depths of Passion. The Absurd Human need not worry about ‘spiritual repercussions’ or ‘oughts’ or ‘shoulds.’ Those concepts are, again, abstractions and created by humans. In an indifferent Universe, they have little value to the Absurdist. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Absurdist is often a Rebel, and to rebel requires much effort, often fueled by Passion. A Rebel without Passion cannot effectively rebel for very long. Passion musters the Absurdist to stand, live and experience another day despite the meaninglessness, to do as the Absurd Human Will.

To imagine oneself as a victim to the indifference of the Universe, is a defeat. The Absurd Human rejects defeat as an option; s/he will always persevere.

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