Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago on China here. As you’ve probably heard, the People’s of Republic of China turned 60 recently, which has brought out a spate of articles reflecting on all things China.
The nut of the referenced story is this bit of anti-absurdity:
“For decades, China's authoritarian policies kept a lid on ethnic expression. Now, as the party loosens control over society, individuals are defining themselves by their culture -- embracing who they are, what language they speak and what their ancestors accomplished. "This is not a hobby or an interest," says Hukshen, a 22-year-old Manchu language student. "This is a burning emotion I feel, a need to find out who I am."
On some levels, this search can be a positive force, helping to give meaning to people's lives...”
In this blog, we ask the question who is the absurd man? And how does one live in an absurd world? We define the absurd man and his perspective through the traditional lens of example. We also define the absurd man by what he isn’t. The anti-absurd man, then, is a useful tool.
We find Hukshen is an anti-absurd man. In fact, we find the whole thrust of this passage anti-absurd on many levels.
We’ve never understood this intense desire to belong to something that so many people seem to have. It looks to us like a raft people latch on to because they are lost in a sea of meaningless. Religion and politics usually serve up what’s needed. But culture also serves the same purpose. This 22-year old finds his life devoid of meaning and must fill the hole. Hence, his “burning passion” to “find out who I am.”
The absurd man, by contrast, would embrace that sea of meaningless. He sees the world as devoid of meaning and celebrates that fact, indeed, finds it liberating.
If life is meaningless, then so, too, are all these artificial lines we draw between us, around us and through us. Race, religion, politics, language – it’s all ladled out of the same bowl.
The absurd man doesn’t need these associations to be happy. He just is and that is enough.
We’d also point out how much blood has been shed in the name of such arbitrary divisions based on where one was born or what language one speaks. China has had its bloody moments in history. It has had its share of bloody riots involving the killing of ethnic minorities.
As the absurd man values his own life and hence the life of others, such violence he cannot approve. Therefore, it is no surprise when Camus supported the anti-government actions of Gary Davis in 1948.
Gary Davis, a former American war pilot, cut up his passport and called himself a “citizen of the world.” Albert Camus, among others, approved. Given the savage history they bore witness too, one can readily see the appeal of such an ideal.
Alas, the world is not ready for that kind of absurdity just yet.