It is pure coincidence that today’s topic is the absurd. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that today is Thanksgiving. I would like to wish all my readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Be careful out there!

Simple absurdity

I love the Marx Brothers. Their humor is my kind of humor: plays on words, puns, a little slapstick thrown in. Actually, I’m not sure if absurd is the correct category for their genre of humor. Everything they say makes perfect sense to me. In fact, in normal conversations I have with people I know, I have the urge to throw in a Grouchoism or two, with a ha-cha-cha, twitching my eyebrows up and down, and a tipping of an ash from my non-existent cigar. I’ve gotten better at repressing myself in recent years. Today, when a straight man throws me a line, I just grin and let it go.

An absurdity is something that doesn’t make sense, a non sequitur. I love this definition of non sequitur: “Non sequitur: when a train of thought proceeds from A to B and back again to Q” —Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead [1]

Here are a couple of examples from the same web reference: [2]

  • All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates likes women.
  • I sit at a table to read, and the elements are organized in a table, therefore reading is elementary.

I would classify the latter example as more of a pun, but it is still a bit silly, definitely in the absurd category.

Old and young

As I get older, I may not be hearing as clearly as I used to. However, this supplies me with endless amusement, particularly when someone mumbles. I can’t tell you how many funny things I think people say, when I mis-hear them. I use my imagination to fill in what I didn’t actually hear. When this happens in the young it is called a Pullet Surprise. [3] Here are some examples:

  • “We found it hard to understand his Scottish derelict” [dialect]
  • “The Rocky Mountain road was the most cynic of our entire trip” [scenic]
  • “The athlete was extremely proud of his psychic” [physique](Greene, 11.) [4]

The unfortunate

Being absurd can be fun, but only if one knows one is being absurd. There are those with thought disorders who cannot organize their thoughts sufficiently to make sense to others. “In psychiatry, derailment is a thought disorder characterized by discourse consisting of a sequence of unrelated or only remotely related ideas. The frame of reference often changes from one sentence to the next.” [5]

This is not a happy circumstance, to say the least.

Seriously absurd

I leave for another post the serious treatment of the absurd by the likes of Camus, Sartre, Orwell and other philosophically inclined people.


Happy Thanksgiving

Have as much fun with your families and friends as you can this Thanksgiving, even if it is not Thanksgiving in your neck of the woods.

[3] The author Amsel Greene wrote the book entitled, “Pullet Surprises” in 1969 in which she writes her observations of the writing blunders of the students in her English classes of 30 years (from http://english.answers.com/definitions/whats-a-pullet-surprise)

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