Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 12 June 11, 1968
Pooh Pooh To Absurdity
Pooh Pooh To Absurdity
It seems to be fashionable, in university circles, to be cynical, sceptical, despairing and nihilistic. An increasingly large number of people define everything as intrinsically absurd and their actions show a similar obsession with the absurdity in life.
They throw Camus at you as being the founder of their school (an honour I think Camus would probably take great exception to) and feel that, to keep the absurd flag flying, they must leap on to the non-existent, but always present, absurd bandwaggon. They define the university, world, other people and themselves as absolutely meaningless.
Then they shout out against the apathy of students, indifference of students and the need for student power. Some of these people are on the Executive of this establishment not because they think that Exec has more meaning than the rest of the university but, because they want to be involved in the absurdity of things in order to convince themselves that their initial diagnosis is right.
Some belong to the literary society and write absurd poetry and absurd literature for those who want to read absurd words. Some of them are involved in the movement agitating for civil rights not because they believe in civil rights but because they want to attack the establishment and other purveyors of meaningless propaganda.
Some of them are involved in the campaign against Mr Levenbach, not because they can't afford to pay for cafe meals but because, if they oppose a man for long enough and nothing happens they feel they have proved that all activity is absurd. Some of them drink in the pub in order to prove that there is no reality behind the counter.
But, whatever activity the defeatist engages in or has engaged in, the cry now is for student power; all power to the Executive, put up barricades in pigeon park, join with the unions and overthrow the Government, down with apathetic students, up with nihilistic, sceptical, cynical students and give them absolute power to see how their egos grow.
All power to the forces of despair, Niel Wright and John Hales for prime minister and attorney general.
The religious clubs are also affected by this storm of despairing locusts. Apart from the redoubtable forces of EU (who are too much concerned with individual salvation to be worried about the world) the other religious groups seem to share the nihilism of the "in" group.
Is it true that the atheist society (with renewed ecumenical' spirit) is joining forces with the Anglican society, in an attempt to erase heresies of all kind? Why not infuse student power with religious power and that way ensure the re-emergence of the inquisition?
Everyone, a hearty laugh for these—the consciences of our society, critics who know so much, people who make a point of throwing out babies with bath water, people who are providing the absurd leadership that the university needs so much.
Let us all applaud the constructive efforts of these people to infuse the society with the necessary idealism to arouse it from its contented slumbers. Three cheers for the pooh society.
From this little, big, absurd essay on absurdity one can see that these trend setters in our midst, pot and sex takers, nihilists and pessimists, are, in fact, achieving a great deal that is meaningful in the way of positive ideas for the recreation of our sick society. They are imbuing us all with that crusading spirit which sees where there is a need in the community and does something about it.
They are giving us a positive lead by showing where the student can best use his resources. They are demonstrating with great aplomb the essentially positive role that the university can play in the community.
They agitate for better town-gown relations (it's the best way to get money for absurd halls of residence) and advocate an Open Day for the university so the public can see the absurd in action.
But there are one or two questions I would like to ask them before I would consider leaping on the bandwaggon.
(1) Why do they wander around with their eyes closed and fail to sec that when debunking the debunkable myths they often overlook the people who create them? Why. when they are drinking in the pub, do they not see that their not too distant drinking partners happen to be Samoans, Cook Islanders and potential alcoholics drinking their wages away because they can't see the point in being aware and conscious of life?
(2) Why don't they hibernate for the winter and wait for the slightly less absurd summer before coming out with their absurd smiles and shallow iconoclasm?
(3) If they were really being absurd why don't they advocate a revolution to provide life with the meaning that it so sorely needs?
(4) Why can't they endeavour to become aware of the real absurdities in our system (not just the adolescent contrivances they pass off as the absurdities) and do something about it? Can it be that they can't sec past cafe-time?
(5) Why do these people seem to lack enthusiasm for anything other than thrill and kick-seeking?
(6) Why are they unable to empathise with other people and to resort to the prehistoric protection of insensitivity to safeguard their beliefs?
(7) Can it be that like the dinosaur, the traffickers of the absurd in life suffer from a chimerically large body but very little brain?
(8) Can they prove a better world will emerge from their nihilism?
If these people are unable to answer these questions I had better not leap on their bandwaggon, but rather remain one of the few (I hope there are more that I haven't heard of) idealists around the place. At least our eyes are opening and. although we see very dimly at the moment, the light is getting strong enough for us to identify the fact that, there are a few people around this institution and in society who are trying to pull the blinds down.