Although the word ‘absurd’ was introduced to Dutch already in the 16th century, probably from French, it was only included into the first supplement of the Dutch Dictionary in 1956. Perhaps it was too obviously a borrowed word to be allowed in without a fight. And the word still sounds a bit scholarly now, no matter how contemptible it is usually meant. And that is also what is nice and refined about the word: It seems to locate the nonsense that it relates to on a higher level, or give it a second change by indicating it in a scholarly way with a Latin term. And of that Latin word ‘absurdus’ the meaning is very mysteriously and perhaps also adequately described by the gorgeous dictionary of Van Wageningen and and Muller as: ‘who or what deviates from the usual hum’. It could therefore also relate to who or what makes a remarkably clear and sensible sound amidst the hum, but in Latin it was long since used to go below the already dubious borderline of everyday buzz and to expose that as just noise. It then no longer concerns a normal and natural process, but something with pretensions that distance it from the norm.

The borrowed word will therefore be introduced to distinguish an excess of non-sensical and meaningless buzz from the usual portions of it, to which the ear has gotten used in the mean time. And because in the Dutch language ‘absurd’ is a scholarly word, its usage must come from circles where such diagnoses could be made or where the excess probably occurred the most. So we’re not talking about regular and incidental nonsense, but about a higher and better organized form of it, cultivated in circles where everything that has been said and regulated, is regulated again, so that this surplus of of rules totally disrupts everything again. The population is thank god healthy and malicious enough to take over such a term and apply it to the very circles where the disease arose and the diagnosis was made. And in that way the meaning of the word ‘absurd’ must have been related to bureaucratic actions, a hum that indeed deviates quite a bit from the sounds caused by the usual and what is considered efficient activity. It is more the sound of little preambles and buzzing preparations than of progress.

The strict rule that seems to be underlying this development, could in the spirit of the word be described as following: everything that has already been regulated must on a higher level be regulated again in such a way that the regulations become not only more complicated, but also less efficient. And within that development there is increasing absurdity. The perfect organizations seems to strive for a maximum of absurdity; and that can only be reached when there is nothing at all outside of the agency, or nothing else is recognized and the machine hums in a completely empty space. The machine then works at full speed, but it doesn’t produce anything anymore. For the law of maximum absurdity will not allow that it produces anything else than this sort of spinning rumble. And as long as that ideal has not yet been reached and the organization, as a sort of industrial accident, makes a product, the machine will have to be perfected further until such an accident is ruled out and the buzz will sound to the enthusiasts as absolute music.

absurd sign



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2 responses to “Absurd

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