Ionesco Ink, inc., oink

Voice Card  -  Volume 20  -  Stuart Card Number 2  -  Tue, May 14, 1991 2:44 PM

This is a response to VC 19 Drury 2 ("Killfish?")...

Ionesco, huh? Well, er, I think I nearly exhausted my knowledge about Ionecso in my voice card to you on the subject (VC 19 Drury 2). In that voice card, the long explanation referred to that was inadvertently erased into byteland oblivion had to do with the idea of the "Theater of the Absurd" movement, which Ionesco did much to pioneer.

The controlling idea of this theater had to do with shaking up the bougeiose, the complacent, somnolent, narrow minded middle class, those more concerned with the chasing of a dollar or a pound or a franc than other more noble minded values. The great Irish poet W.B. Yeats referred to these narrow minded/valued people as "paudeens," and in a famous poem of his, "September 1913," described them as "fumbl(ing) in a greasy till/ And add(ing) the halfpence to the pence/ And prayer to shivering prayer, until/ "(they) have dried the marrow from the bone" (2-5).

In that poem, Yeats was writing about the Irish middle class in the period before Irish independence. He was expressing his bitterness that this class was doing so little to shake off the yolk of British Imperialism on his people. But the qualities of "Paudeeness," are not limited to just the Irish. They are the type of people who predominate the modern, capitalistic, industrial state. At least, that is what many of the great artists of the twentienth Century have thought - from Charlie Chaplin to T.S. Eliot.

Eugene Ionesco, who was born in 1912, quite a bit later than Yeats, nevertheless was thinking similar thoughts about the middle class in France, and he wanted to shake these people up, stir them, wake them up. He tried to do this, as many artists do, through shock. Hence the idea of putting discordant images together on a stage, "Absurd" images, images that people would not ordinarily expect to see, such as a rhinoceros on a street corner. And that, my sleepy children, is how the Theater of the Absurd came into being.