Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Theatre of the Absurd

Move over Martin Esslin. Your book is passe. On the larger proscenium stage of higher academia in Bihar, Pinter plus plus is being enacted. Well, before getting into the narrative, a bit of the pre-theory. Camus defined the absurd as the tension which emerges from man's determination to discover purpose and order in a world which steadfastly refuses to evidence either. In other words we inhabit a world in which attempts to script rational meanings are defeated in the very act of doing so.
Now watch these events as an unfolding of an absurdist dramatic script:

1. The chancellor appoints a Vice-Chancellor
2. Media reports vigilance probes against the appointee
3. Government requests Chancellor to reconsider decision
4. Chancellor sticks to his decision.
5. Government seizes financial powers of the VCs
6. Chancellor asks Universities to disregard unauthorised directives
7. Government stops salaries of VC.
Soap opera to continue?

A respectable academic from an off-shores university phoned me this morning and said, 'the last time I was in Patna, you spared no pains to advertise your state at a public seminar and we truly believed you'. I grimaced at the stifled sound of the chuckle.

Had this been a play scripted by Beckett, Ionesco,Genet, Arrabal, Pinter or Simpson, it may have been critiqued as a work of art. When it happens in real life, it attracts ridicule. People within and outside the state are watching with puzzled derision.

Its time that Martin Esslin returned to the pages of his own book and the aesthetic of meaninglessness ceases to occupy columns of prominence in the dailies. It is good to laugh and be happy, its just a wee bit tough to be laughed at.

P.S. Not that we don't have a sense of humour. We have had long years of experience, haven't we?


  1. I thought things were improving/had improved in Bihar.

    Your "laughed at" phrase reminds me of my time in Delhi when I had to justify so many things about Bihar. People were surprised I could converse in English.

    And now here in Canada I have heard this many times- oh you are from India and your English is so good.

    I have now thought of a clever comeback- So is yours!

  2. Shakespeare rightly penned - All the world's a stage.....except that he forgot to add the word 'absurd' and it fits in the context of whats happening. May be this script can be worked into a play like 'the Bucket of Dorian Gray' which we had thought of sometime back!

  3. May be you could alter that slightly: with a little effort, so will be yours.

  4. We can just transcribe ordinary, everyday incidents and it will read like a psychiatrist's note and will no doubt be the muhurat moment for the Bucket of Gorian Dray.