In a lecture given on the Function of the Field of Speech and Language, Jacques Lacan discusses, what we will call, our stage-fright complex. According to Lacan, the mere act of revealing something is such a powerful, psychological one that it scares us. Frightening us enough to make us turn away from the very act itself. [i]
Does this explain why there is so much small talk between human beings, because the normal psychological state is to be too frightened to go too far with what our language can reveal? In society we see it over and over again, a constant avoidance of the thorny issues, or a repression of the filthy ones. But our repression of reality is not just confined to psychological issues, we do it on all levels of communication, and it exists on all planes of society and in all fields: families, companies, parliaments; in economics…
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born like this
as the chalk faces smile
as Mrs. Death laughs
as the elevators break
as political landscapes dissolve
as the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
as the oily fish spit out their oily prey
as the sun is masked
born like this
into these carefully mad wars
into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
into bars where people no longer speak to each other
into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
born into this
into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
born into this
walking and living through this
dying because of this
muted because of this
because of this
fooled by this
used by this
pissed on by this
made crazy and sick by this
A brilliant Absurdist play by Eugène Ionesco.
The whole play revolves around an Old Man and an Old Woman, trapped within the confines of routine.
Every day they share the same talks, engage in the same petty movements, and reiterate the same expressions.
The only escape from their stifling loneliness is the conversations they share, particularly the “message” the Old Man wishes for the world to hear.
As he is preparing for his guests, (all of mankind), to come and hear his revelation, he begins rearranging chairs in a circular manner.
Slowly the guests start appearing, and quickly the audience realize that they are invisible.
Ionesco’s attempt to breathe existence into the ephemeral is a brilliant portrayal of escapism.
To the Old man and Old woman who have no aspirations for the future, no attachment to the past, and no confidence in the present; this “message” is the only way to convince themselves that their lives are not devoid of meaning.
As the Old Man prepares for his revelation, he whispers a part of his message to himself. “At the end, of the end, there was, there was, what what?”
As his memory starts to fail him, he becomes dissatisfied with his ability to communicate his message to the world and decides to rely on an orator.
After a period of uncomfortable silence the orator finally arrives, dressed in elitist 19th century clothing that perfectly matches his pompous entrance.
The Old Man and Woman are taken by his presence believing that he is worthy and capable of spreading their prophecy.
Feeling they have exceeded all limits of happiness (and desire), they decide they have nothing else to do but end their lives together.
As the audience anxiously turns to the orator for the message, he addresses the invisible audience with incomprehensible speech.
We quickly realize that he is deaf and mute and that the Old Man and Woman, like their message died in vain.
The play ends with a collision of murmuring, coughing, and laughing from the invisible audience that slowly subsides as the orator exits the stage.
This Ionesco claims is the “last decisive moment of the play that should be an expression of…absence”.