Modern man’s outlook is essentially Promethean: filled with utopian expectations and oblivious to the world’s limits. One comedic play exposes the folly:
Le Roi se meurt is an antidote to any kind of political utopianism, and is both poetic and satirical. It satirises man’s preposterous, and often dangerous, attempts to escape the existential limitations of his life. It punctures his attempts to ignore death, his pretence that by busying himself with his little projects it will go away…
Oddly enough, Ionesco’s meditation on the importance of death is not depressing, but on the contrary uplifting. It liberates us to take pleasure in what we are fortunate enough to have, namely existence, rather than to bear the crushing, all-pervasive and life-destroying responsibility to bring about perfection.
To read the rest, purchase the Summer 2013 edition of the Salisbury Review.
Hmm, it’s a lovely idea to take pleasure in simply existing but it just doesn’t work for me. Existence doesn’t feel like anything much to me. It’s like air: it has no taste or smell. I have tried to pretend, as have many other people, that just to observe the flowers and smell the coffee is enough. But then I forget that I’m supposed to be grateful for such things and life once again reverts to feeling neither good nor bad. It just is.
The contrivedness, the horrible intentionality and the self-conscious energy you expend in trying to hold back the deadening hand of habituation hardly seems worth it to me. I don’t want to keep reminding myself to count my blessings. I would rather be a miserable git and at least feel at home in my skin.