The notion of the absurd has been prominent in literature throughout history. Many of the literary works of Soren Kierkegard, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus contain descriptions of people who encounter the absurdity of the world.
Until quite recently, the word existentialism, in association with the word angst had been the domain of the more inner-looking among us, especially in Europe.
But not anymore it seems. Likud Israel’s European style colonial enterprise has reapplied the meaning of the word existential (threat) to the state itself in order to better mythologise its victimhood. Never mind that the Zionist regime is in possession of the latest munitions from America and can (and does) inflict unimaginable cruelty on the civilian population of Gaza.
The breathtaking array of lethal weapons possessed by Israel is matched only by a very successful public relations programme by AIPAC to involve the American public in a deceitful piece of strategic jargon that pretends that the Palestinians are the aggressors, while, in essence, it was they who fell victim to Western chicanery.
The Palestinians, unlike the Jews, had peaceful continuity of habitation for thousands of years in that one area, so words like ‘existential’ or ‘angst’ were unlikely to have entered their lexicon. On the other hand, the meaning of the word Nakba has found a place in their lexicon as well as being understood by men and women of goodwill everywhere. The word identifies and recalls the acts of terrorism against the people of Palestine by Jewish terrorist groups like the Stern Gang, Irgun and Haganath, a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920-1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defence Forces.
The notion of the absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it. Because of the world’s absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the absurd.
In 1948 Palestine was plummeted into chaos and may have experienced absurdity, amongst other things, for the first time ever.
The Talmudic narrative in relation to mythology, as in the Zionist playbook, is about reinforcing a people’s right to a piece of land promised by a biblical prophet. Could this piece of conceptual foreplay also be eligible for an absurdist classification? That the state of Israel itself exists without legally defined borders while continuing to annex Palestinian land, makes one wonder who should be expressing existential angst and at what point does mythology itself become absurd?
It goes without saying that any of the above questions would be construed as anti-Semitic in the current climate of censorship. It’s rather like the world should put up with, and shut up about Palestine, because kosher-Israeli-right trumps all other opinion. At what stage did we cross some ethereal line in the sand that was meant to neuter dissenting voices? Are we to believe that by virtue of not being of the elect, that forbearance and moral rectitude have mysteriously become the property of the Jews alone? At what point had the noun ‘genocide’ become theirs by right ?
From another perspective, Israel’s patron and benefactor, the US of A, is itself imbued with a lexicon of inflated might and bombast used to project itself as the harbinger of judicious resolutions in the context of its God-awful foreign policy, is contiguous with absurdity. That the ‘honest broker’ has fallen foul of his own propaganda and continues to pretend to be impartial in the Palestine-Israel conflict, beggars belief. That it continues to supply Israel with weapons of mass destruction that are used against the civilians trapped in Gaza can only increase the number of people expressing revulsion at these atrocities and awaken civil society to the existence of the BDS movement and the peace coalitions as the only alternatives available.
Surely we owe it to ourselves to become free from the lies and conceits that block accountability. If joining the dots doesn’t pass muster, historic fact risks falling on its face. If the legions of Peter Pan classroom academics in the West would leave their ivory tower sinecures a moment, they would find that there is a bloody world outside. More might even engage with voices arising within alternative media. Facts alone do not speak for themselves. It may be necessary to storm the barricades; the local elected member for instance, if he or she is awake, for starters?
Here we can pause a moment to disinter the mythology fundamental to Homer’s Iliad and see how the orientation of that period, sublime in all its integers, be they God, Demigod, human, came to create a culture that projected its focus outwards, rather than turn to the inwardness of the prophet as poet-oracle. The constellation of vectors used as tools to measure the vicissitudes of an expanding universal consciousness embraced science, poetry, drama etc.,..’everything’… and was truly universal and timeless. No frumpy old prophets in sight to internalise the narrative here. No acrimonious patriarchy biliously fomenting wars for title to land.
The medium is truly the message. Our very identity has to accommodate an understanding of what exists outside our known frame of reference, our ideology, or we become merely incurious. If we stop learning and growing, we perish by default.
So to finish on an absurdist note. Is there nowhere else to go to, but state the obvious…
No security in the Middle East until legal and territorial foundations have been established by international agreements set in place so as to provide justice for all parties? Listening to Barack Obama or Benjamin Netanyahu or David Cameron addressing congress, or Knesset, or House of Commons, is to hear mediocre men imagine themselves exceptional, and this is not good augury. But hope springs eternally; there is the perception in alternative media of a growing distaste for the cynical manipulation of cause and effect, rudely impacting as it does ever more on civil rights and truth itself, since the War on Terror security apparatus inveigled its way into propaganda-speak to justify taking out a franchise on casus belli as a means to achieve its suspect ends. Meanwhile, we the people, will continue to separate ourselves from the starch (money) and stench of one almighty mess. We cannot afford to allow the status quo to become the separation wall between perfidy and justice for the commons. The human spirit is magnificent when it percolates upwards toward the light of day. Justice is not absurd.