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The aesthetic movement

artists assaulted the assumptions held by the middle class about the nature and function of art, would have really weird poetry performances where they confused and even physically assaulted & insulted the audience, undermined the middle classes

Traditional View of Humanity

Human beings are fairly rational creatures who live in at least a partially intelligible universe, part of an ordered structure and are capable of heroism even in defeat

The Absurd View of Humanity

A human being is an isolated existent who is cast into an alien universe to conceive the universe as having no inherent truth, value, or meaning, and to represent human life as it moves from nothingness from which it came and nothingness where it must end, as an existence which is both anguished and absurd


Said "no more solutions, no more worries", used art as a way of representing the chaos of life


The idea that human beings simply exist, have no higher purpose, and must exist and choose their actions for themselves.

Pascal's Wager

If you believe in God, and there is a God, then you're right. If you believe in God, and there is no God, no real harm done. If you don't believe in God, and He does exist, then you have to deal with Him--so you might as well believe.


Christian existentialist, The Abyss, had a leap of faith because he had hope, but he didn't KNOW if God existed him so that bothered him.

Jean Paul Sartre

wrote "Nausea and Being and Nothingness" (while he was on drugs) and "No Exit", said "Hell is other people", and we can never really know each other


the reality that you are going to die

Samuel Beckett (dates & life)

1906-1989, born in Dublin, language scholar, wrote brilliant stuff, hated actors, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969

Samuel Beckett (philosophy)

the world is ultimately meaningless, a meliorist

elliptic style

the stripping down of language


tragedy with comedic elements (there is nothing funnier than unhappiness)

chess analogy in Endgame

Ham always has to be in the center, because that's where control is at the beginning of the game, but at the end (the endgame) it doesn't matter anymore

meaning of names in Endgame

Ham = hammer, Clov, Nag, & Nell = nails (hammer beats the nails down)
Ham = ham, Clov = clove (ham and cloves go together)
Nag & Nell = horses

Characters in Endgame

Ham - tyrant, blind, can't walk
Nag & Nell - Ham's parents, in trashcans, lost legs in bicycling accident
Clov - Ham's adopted son/dog, can't sit down

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