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Friday, December 14, 2012

THE AGE OF ABSURDITY

     arata kato



Saw the Good Soldier Schweik, Part 1, this evening. 1956. Part 2 will be here Monday or Tuesday. In between is Baaba Maal playing at the Albert Hall in London. Baaba Maal is a musician and singer from Senegal. The first African album to really catch my attention was Baaba Maal and Manseur Seck playing guitars and singing in their language. I've been curious to see this performance. I recall seeing a film he sang in the soundtrack, might have been Blood Diamond, an awfully good film worth seeing again. Haven't listened to Baaba Maal in awhile. It will be good to hear his voice again. Africa has a long climb up out of the ditch colonialism put the whole continent into. More than likely the period of colonialism was transitional from tribal situations to the modern world, which evidently all the world is being brought into through a century of major wars and brushfire wars. Electricity changed every place around the globe. All the world is being changed by electricity, culture changing with it everywhere. The world economy flows everywhere now. The Bank robbing us is also robbing the people of the rest of the world. And the ocean is rising faster than anticipated. Only a collapsed world economy will save what fish are left in the ocean for the near future. Not that I am wanting to see it or live through it, but it looks kinda like it's on the horizon coming our way.

But it's not here yet. Who knows? The Lord may come again, in just the right time. It's looking to me like he's already too late. Maybe he's been here and gone. Maybe all this absurdity that goes with the present generation of the Reagan Revolution, the Boner and the Albino Turtle, is part of the Divine Plan. More than likely is. So the post-Eisenhower republicans are operating for God the Destroyer. It must be that time, time for all to fall down. It won't be so bad. People will be using their yards for gardens. Hardware stores will flourish again with no more box stores after they took all our money and moved underground in Arkansas. Who knows what the future brings? It's looking like gradual decline for the American Empire, closing down infrastructure maintenance before closing down military bases around the world. We the American people figure last. The "defense" forces are not about us. We're the herd they get soldiers and money to operate from. I've done my "duty" succumbing to involuntary servitude for God and country. I never made a good soldier. I was like Schweik, hip-hip-hooray-let's-go-to-war and walk down another road to pick a flower.

This film made in 1956 of the beginning of WWI in Czechoslovakia, presumably Prague. Schweik was a simpleton who did what he was told literally and made slapstick mistakes that landed him into absurd situations. It was written in the time of Kafka when a literary movement was brewing in Eastern Europe, the Absurd. Jaroslav Hasek wrote the story in the absurdist vein of the time and Schweik became the Czech national cartoon figure. Like Schweik, the Czechs couldn't figure out why they were involved--they didn't do anything wrong. Good Soldier Schweik was an anti-war novel, one of the better of them. It's a fun read. The film is fun in the same ways. Part 1 is all in the city during preparations for war. I don't know the city. Presume it is Prague, but that is merely assumption going by seems-like. It was filmed like a stage play, every scene a set the characters ineract in. Stage actors of the place and time, again, presumably Prague. The actor playing Schweik took a little while for me to get used to, then he became Schweik himself. It's a comedy with an edge that tells something what it was like subject to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Schweik, like a Kafka character, bobs around from scene to scene like a silver ball in a pinball machine kept in motion by flippers, bumpers, targets, lights, one thing and another. He falls down a hole and pops up again into play. Kafka was comedy in that time, too; though he's not any more and hasn't been funny in a long time.

Watching Schweik, I was flashing on my term in the Navy with military absurdity all around, engulfing, swallowing me like Jonah, but for more than 3 days. That's what it is about our bizarre government. It has become like the military. Joseph Heller's Catch 22 is the American version of Good Soldier Schweik, a story of the absurdity of war from top to bottom. Militarism where the absurdity really emits from was the same as it is now, just different according to time and place. Our government is a mega bureaucracy, hence doing everything the bureaucratic way. It's become a way of life we're expected to conform to. And we do. By now the absurd is our everyday way of life. An hour of network tv is a waltz through absurdity. The absurd is our humor. We are in the age of the Absurd. A century of playwrights have shown the absurd can be fun. It makes good slapstick like YouTube FAIL videos. I remember one of a teenage boy doing a belly-flop dive off a 2nd floor landing to a mattress on the parking lot below. He missed. He smacked his head on the pavement and couldn't move. The guys with the camera were laughing so hysterically they couldn't stop laughing enough to notice that it might matter if the dude holding his head and moaning needed medical assistance. That's absurd.

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