The New Absurdist Manifesto

New absurdism has come to mean chaos, anti-style, anti-genre. This is quite a difficult foundation to build a movement on and is more in line with the principles of Dada than anything else. While the TNA site will forever remain an open writing experiment, free of editors or any kind of guiding hand as far as content or structure is concerned, the Absurdist Monthly Review's goal is to work to define absurdism both historically and in its growing modern form.

Absurdism lacks the manifestos of Dadaism and Surrealism and has had little popularity outside of the theatre community until recent years. Media now refers to any over-the-top or crude comedy as absurdist, completely diluting the term until it's become descriptively useless. Even those working in absurdism today tend to rely on vague, philosophical definitions or merely use analogies to previous authors. No one has come up with a compact, concrete description similar to surrealism's dream metaphor; so, I will try:

"Absurdism expresses the meaninglessness of life whose only beauty is self-contradiction."

New absurdism is the historical continuation of absurdist literary themes and techniques within the new social backdrop of complete informational saturation. Its texts are short because the conventional use of words to convey sense has been short-circuited by the deluge of information surrounding us and is now rendered meaningless. Devices that attack the perceptions of readers must be employed to disrupt this static. Its texts concern the loss of individuality, loss of authority, the breakdown of societal norms, mental breakdown and the impossibility of meaningful communication in light of this revolution of information. The devices of past absurdists are now supplemented with the techniques of mass media and mass advertising to control the perceptual response of readers in compact textual spaces. Content is irrelevant because it's now mentally filtered out by reflex. Response is the only meaningful aim.

Before any cohesive group can form, conventions must be established that define exactly what new absurdists believe and do, and what sets them apart from others both stylistically and philosophically. I've come up with three basic principles of new absurdism. These relate to how the author views himself, the reader and the text produced.

New Absurdism views the author as constructor instead of creator, manipulating and processing textual blocks of experience through various metafictional devices and the thematic templates of satire, black humor and parody.

New Absurdism views the story as object, disrupting the narrative, presenting linguistic puzzles, disjoint structures and unfamiliar or created words.

New Absurdism views the reader as co-constructor of the final meaning of the text, forcing the reader back into the action of reading instead of passively absorbing the words that other forms of fiction now provide them.

These arise directly out of Absurdism's fundamental roots in Futurism, Constructivism, Acmeism and Formalism and are expanded only slightly to encompass new modes of thought on the philosophy of communication.

- polycarp kusch

July 2006

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