Elliot: Rhinoceros attacks the chairs, à la Ionesco


The White House

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

So it’s finals week, and for far too many university students, it seems like the Alps of absurdity, not to mention the Himalayas of caffeine-ity.

Full disclosure: Caffeine-ity doesn’t actually exist in any reliable medical literature, not even in Lit City. (A locution that Iowa Public Radio shamelessly stole from me, but, I must admit, only after I shamelessly forgot to mail in my promised donation to IPR. OK, so we’re even. But “Lit City” is mine. I don’t care what the denizens (which is not really Zen, but oh, well, that’s Zen) of the Foxhead say.

But, university students, the Alps of absurdity, sorry to say, don’t come during finals week, they arrive, with no formal warning outside of the slap across your cheeks by “oldish cod” (which are on special) in so-called real life. You’ll know when you’re stuck in a cubicle among thousands or so cubicles designed by a seasoned contortionist and your supervisor expects you to come up with a Y axis in which there doesn’t seem to be any corresponding X axis (they stopped emailing years ago, kind of like divorced people, who will soon encompass all your college friends, and they’ll expect you to provide a compass). Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that persnickety Z axis.But wait. There’s more. As the Popeil commercials used to say. If you’re too young to remember the Popeil ads, too bad; there was a lifetime of laughter in each 30-second bit. It got so good (or bad) that you didn’t care about the late-night TV program, you were waiting to fall into hysterics at the Popeil ads, and the hysterics usually involved rolling around on pizza-colored carpets shouting OMG. Or words to that effect. Those were the days.

The mountain ranges of absurdity (or “absurdity,” if you prefer, though there doesn’t appear to be an “A” game) seem to be everywhere these days, you notice? Creeping Ionesco-ism standing around all the street corners and building stoops, smoking cigarettes and sneering at rationality and logic and, for good measure, geometry.

What has geometry ever done? you wonder. Except demonstrate that the quickest way from A to B is C.

Meanwhile, back at creeping Ionesco-ism, a 61-year-old woman has been convicted of disrupting Congress and “parading” for letting out a laugh (or a giggle or some display of humor) during the beginning of Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing to become attorney general on Jan. 10.

No, really. Desiree Fairooz, a member of Code Pink, was convicted recently for publicly indicating some form of humor when Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a colleague of Sessions, with a straight face (apparently the only face he knows) said Sessions had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law …”

Um, not to put too fine a point on things — because who would do that? — but Sessions was denied a judgeship in the 1980s because he had reportedly made some quite bigoted comments. Apparently, in these days of Absurdo-Land, who cares? By the way, who misplaced the Ministry of Funny Walks?

Oh, well. Given the case of Fairooz, apparently, you have to be extremely careful when Congress is in “Session,” so to speak.

Actually, don’t speak, either. If laughter gets you jail, outright speaking might get you Guantánamo. It’s a free country, as people say, but apparently, that means authorities are free to jail you if they please.

Meanwhile, back at absurdity, not that we have found the exit, the Trumpster’s original pick for National Security honcho seems to have been colluding with the Russians.

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