Absurdistan is a term sometimes used to satirically describe a country in which absurdity is the norm, especially in its public authorities and government. The expression was originally used by Eastern bloc dissidents to refer to parts (or all) of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Today, the term is most often reserved for Russia and states formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence which have retained Soviet-style authoritarian governments, such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or Belarus.
The first printed use of the word, in any language, can be found in a 1971 German monthly periodical ‘Politische Studien.’ Later, in Czech, the term was often used by the dissident and later president Václav Havel. This seems to indicate that use of the term began during perestroika (restructuring of the Soviet economy). The first recorded printed use of the term in English was in ‘Spectator’ in 1989, in an article about Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakians have taken to calling their country ‘Absurdistan’ because everyday life there has long resembled the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’).
Absurdism is a type of philosophy centered on the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. The conflict itself is called ‘the absurd,’ by absurdist philosophers.
Absurdists, most notably French philosopher Albert Camus, believe that when human beings realize this fundamental absurdity the most sensible response was to accept the absurd, and also to keep trying to overcome it. He believed that a human being could become happy by finding meaning in their relationship with the absurdity of their existence. In acknowledging the absurdity of seeking any inherent meaning, but continuing this search regardless, one can be happy, gradually developing meaning from the search alone.read more »
George Miller, commonly known by his internet pseudonym ‘Filthy Frank,’ is a musician and YouTube personality. He was born to Australian and Japanese parents, and attended Canadian Academy, where he graduated from in 2012. Aside from the comedic and often rap based music he creates under his ‘Pink Guy’ alias, Miller also creates more serious and traditional music under the stage name ‘Joji.’ He first became known for his absurdist YouTube channel, ‘TVFilthyFrank,’ which features music, rants and a bizarre ‘show’ featured in an alternate universe, with all of the main characters played by him.
Miller’s video titled ‘Do the Harlem Shake (Original)’ has been viewed 57.2 million times and spawned the ‘Harlem Shake’ meme. The earliest known video of Miller is a YouTube video titled ‘2cool4u92,’ uploaded to a channel sharing the same name in 2006 and features a young Miller performing a break dance move in front of the camera. Miller created the ‘Filthy Frank’ character during his time on his ‘Dizasta Music’ channel, where he created other content but started gaining popularity once he conceptualized Frank, who is described as the anti-vlogger of YouTube. The first known video on this particular channel was uploaded in 2011, and was titled ‘Filthy Shit.’
John Swartzwelder (b. 1950) is an American comedy writer and novelist, best known for his work on the animated television series ‘The Simpsons,’ as well as a number of novels. He is credited with writing the largest number of ‘Simpsons’ episodes by a large margin (59 full episodes, with contributions to several others). Swartzwelder was one of several writers recruited to show from the pages of George Meyer’s ‘Army Man’ magazine (a short-lived comedy periodical published in the late 1980s; Meyer would also go on to become an acclaimed ‘Simpsons’ writer).
Swartzwelder has been animated in the background of several episodes of ‘The Simpsons.’ His animated likeness closely resembles musician David Crosby, which prompted Matt Groening to state that anytime that David Crosby appears in a scene for no apparent reason, it is really John Swartzwelder. Additionally, Matt Groening has stated that the recurring character ‘Herman Hermann’ (the owner of Herman’s Military Antiques) was originally physically based on Swartzwelder–with the exception of his one arm.read more »
George Grosz [grohs] (1893 – 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic before he emigrated to the United States in 1933.
According to art critic Robert Hughes: ‘In Grosz’s Germany, everything and everybody is for sale. All human transactions, except for the class solidarity of the workers, are poisoned. The world is owned by four breeds of pig: the capitalist, the officer, the priest and the hooker, whose other form is the sociable wife. He was one of the hanging judges of art.’read more »
‘Xavier: Renegade Angel‘ is a 2007 American CGI fantasy-comedy television series created by John Lee, Vernon Chatman, Jim Tozzi and Alyson Levy. Lee and Chatman are also the creators of ‘Wonder Showzen.’ The show was produced by PFFR, with animation by Cinematico. It premiered on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. ‘Xavier’ features a style characterized by a nonlinear, incoherent plot following the humorous musings of an itinerant humanoid pseudo-shaman and spiritual seeker named Xavier.
The show is known for its ubiquitous use of ideologically-critical black comedy, surrealist and absurdist humor presented through a psychedelic, New Age lens. The program is also normally rated TV-MA for intense, graphic, often bloody violence (V), as well as strong sexual content, use of racially/ethnically offensive language, grotesque depictions and content that is considered ‘too morbid and too incomprehensible for young viewers.’read more »
Secular morality is the aspect of philosophy that deals with morality outside of religious traditions. Modern examples include humanism, freethinking, and most versions of consequentialism. Additional philosophies with ancient roots include those such as Skepticism, which professes that ‘man is the measure of all things.’
Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg M. Epstein also states that, ‘much of ancient Far Eastern thought is deeply concerned with human goodness without placing much if any stock in the importance of gods or spirits.’ Other philosophers have proposed various ideas about how to determine right and wrong actions. An example is Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative: ‘The idea that actions can only be considered moral if they could be imitated by anyone else and produce good results.’read more »
Voina (literally ‘War’) is a Russian street-art group known for their provocative and politically charged works of performance art. The group has had more than sixty members, including former and current students of the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography, Moscow State University, and Tartu University. However, the group does not cooperate with state or private institutions, and is not supported by any Russian curators or gallerists. The activities of Voina have ranged from street protests, symbolic pranks in public places, and performance-art happenings, to vandalism and destruction of public property. More than a dozen criminal cases have been brought against the group. According to its members, Voina has no formal leadership, and all members are considered equal. Conceptions are worked out by Oleg Vorotnikov (a.k.a. ‘Vor,’ ‘Thief ‘– the chief ideologist), Natalia Sokol (a.k.a. ‘Kozlyonok,’ ‘Goatling’ – the chief coordinator), Leonid Nikolayev (a.k.a. ‘Crazy Lenya’) and Alexei Plutser-Sarno (the chief media artist, the author of the group’s media art and texts).read more »
Malcolm McLaren (1946 – 2010) was an English performer, impresario, self-publicist and manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls. As a solo artist, McLaren had an innovative career that helped introduce hip hop to the United Kingdom.
About his contribution to music, McLaren has said about himself: ‘I have been called many things: a charlatan, a con man, or, most flatteringly, the culprit responsible for turning British popular culture into nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick. This is my chance to prove that these accusations are true.’read more »
Tenacious D is an American rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1994. Composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Black and lead guitarist and vocalist Kyle Gass, the band has released two albums – ‘Tenacious D’ (2001) and ‘The Pick of Destiny’ (2006). The band’s studio releases and live performances feature a full band lineup, including such musicians as guitarist John Konesky, bassist John Spiker and Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman.
The band originally performed as an acoustic duo, which gained popularity in 1999 when they starred in their eponymous television series and began to support large rock acts. Tenacious D’s music showcases Black’s theatrical vocal delivery and Gass’s acoustic guitar playing abilities. Critics have described their fusion of vulgar absurdist comedy with rock music as ‘mock rock.’ Their songs discuss the duo’s purported musical and sexual prowess, as well as their friendship and cannabis usage in a style that music critics have compared with the storyteller-style lyrics of rock opera.read more »
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theater which has evolved from their work. Their work expressed the belief that, in a godless universe, human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down.
Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence. Plays within this group are absurd in that they focus not on logical acts, realistic occurrences, or traditional character development; they, instead, focus on human beings trapped in an incomprehensible world subject to any occurrence, no matter how illogical. The theme of incomprehensibility is coupled with the inadequacy of language to form meaningful human connections.read more »