Grain for Grain

Strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree:

The most ridiculous and absurd things in life are the funniest.

I strongly agree, and-according to our latest discussions in “World Literature: 1700 to the Present”-I’m on the same brainwave as “our” favorite Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett.

Beckett, in case you don’t know, is the poster boy for “theatre of the absurd,” and is best recognized for several plays he authored in the 1950s. There’s Waiting for Godot, which, I have discovered, is commonly mispronounced as “God-it.” It seems that even misguided English majors miss the French reference it was intended for. As such, I have provided two pronunciation guides: the phonetic symbols [gvdou] and the phonetically written “Guh-dough.” (Either way, there are some that need to learn how to pronounce such a famous piece of literature correctly, because their repeated stupidity makes me angry.) Another of Beckett’s plays is the appropriately titled Krapp’s Last Tape, which I read last April. It is quite abstract—what I remember best is a minimalist, gray set (a common theme for Beckett), a “be-grunged” and itinerant old man (Krapp) in a bathrobe, and his fetish for eating bananas. And, of course, there’s Endgame, the play that I most recently read.

Of course, Endgame is filled to the brim with absurdity. Can you name a play that places two of its four characters in ashbins? I certainly can’t. How about the fact that the play is so cyclical that it literally ends where it began? That’s, of course, not counting the fact that one of the main characters-Hamm-believes humanity will be regenerated from a flea, and that “nothing is funnier than unhappiness.”

Hmm. It seems that mining laughter from misery is Beckett’s ultimate theatrical goal.

I should probably try to do the same thing in life—mine laughter and delight from the unpleasant. Today, in fact, gave me the perfect opportunity to exercise that ability.

I have been, for the past two and a half months, been expecting a refund from the University. I just learned yesterday that I was not going to receive the refund because it had, in fact, been calculated as a “Forfeited Admissions Deposit” from August. What? I was incredibly confused, and spent two hours yesterday playing ping pong between the Bursar’s Office and Admissions Office. I played the same game again today, only accompanied by my previously mentioned boy-space-friend who obviously had more of an idea of what was going on than I did. By the time we visited the Admissions Office for the second time, I just laughed; I was past the point of frustration and well on my way to aplomb outlandishness. I believe I said something to the likes of, “This is so ridiculous that it’s just funny!” as we entered a counselor’s office.

Luckily, however, “I” was able to sort everything out and now plan on receiving my refund.

The moral of the story? Never underestimate the bureaucracy that is Purdue.

Not quite as surprising or philosophical as one of the potential morals of Endgame: Mankind progresses through life in an attempt to discover a meaning, but the only meaning that exists is the one we create ourselves.

Good ole’ Beckett. It’s just like him to look at a life as a sequence of moments; it only becomes an entity when life itself ends. It is only when death closes the door on the sequence that Beckett sees life as an entirety; made up of ecstasy and sadness, picnics and parlors, and tears of frustration. It’s in tears of laughter, smiles and sunshine, stories shared around the campfire, hugs, hellos, goodbyes, and nights watching the sun set only to see it peacefully rise the next morning. That same entity can be composed of bike rides, camping trips, scream-for-joy exhilaration, inside jokes or love—whatever that person deems “meaningful.”

So, ultimately, is life all the little pieces added up? Or is the meaning found somewhere else?


  1. I think your blog will become my new addiction. I love your writing style Dawn, and of course you.


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