Dr. Joel Peckham
Absurd Hero: The outlook of the absurd hero is this: determined tocontinue living with passion even though life appears to bemeaningless. The absurd hero does not look back in regret or forwardwith hope--he or she simply accepts life as it is and keep going inaccordance with a personal code.
Alienation: Quite simply the sense of being completely disconnectedfrom, rejected by and even repulsed by one's culture—including one'snation, religion, and social class.Misogyny: In many ways modernism is a reaction against Romanticism,that would include the Romantic idealization of the feminine. Manymale modernist writers work with an outright hostility toward thefeminine, seeing it as the voice of society (an empty realm ofsuperficial value).
Deracination: Rootlessness. The sense of being disconnected from theland, the earth, what is natural.
Agrarianism: A direct response to the industrialization of America ingeneral and the South in particular—a reactionary movement led bySouthern Writers like John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Robert PennWarren. This movement emphasized closeness to the land, a spiritualconnection between man and God, and for some writers a return toclassic forms of literature. Many Agrarians were also segregationists.Segregationist: Someone who believed that the solution to the AfricanAmerican "Problem" was complete separation of the races. Politicized,it meant Jim Crow laws in the South. But it was also embraced bysome American authors of the south —seen as a reactionary impulse to return to the ways of the Southern past. Like Nazism it can be seen as a powerful effort to impose order on a world in which old values and systems of belief were under threat from new ways of thinking and the questioning of authority
Fragmentation: An extremely important modernist concept,characterized by the effects of an increasingly industrial world onthe individual. Many modernists felt that the city and the assemblyline—as well the killing machines of war—literally fragmented theindividual, treating men as interchangeable, valueless, pieces of somegigantic machine.
Ratiocination: The act of wandering around, nomadically—a sense ofbeing lost, of belonging to nothing, no-one and nowhere.
Feminism: Belief in the social, political, and economic equality ofthe sexes. Important in modernism because it inspired great writerslike Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan Glaspell, Edna St. Vincent Millayand later Adrienne Rich to find their voices in counterpoint to thedominant machismo of the period. Though modern writers were oftenmisogynists, this misogyny was in itself a recognition and response tothe increasing economic, political and social power brought on byincreasing freedoms afforded different groups as the industrialrevolution heated up.
Ambiguity: Used by modernist authors, especially poets to get at asense of uncertainty in the universe. Often evoked through symbolism,ambiguity occurs when a statement, image, symbol or action has nodefinite meaning.Indeterminacy: Much like ambiguity, indeterminacy occurs when oneaction, image, symbol or statement is so full with possible meaning,it becomes impossible to select which one is the right one.
Stream of Consciousness: A technique used by modernist authors thatsought to simulated the associative quality of human thought throughthe neglect of punctuation and traditional sentence structure.Thoughts progress across the page in a continuous stream.
A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness andisolation of individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
The Problem of Radical Freedom: Derives from the existential belief in absolute freedom—the idea that men can literally do anything and aretotally responsible for their own actions. Of course in a world with infinite choices and no clear guide for action, this freedom can beterrifying, leading to Existential Panic.
The outlook of the absurd hero is this: determined to continue living with passion even though life appears to be meaningless. The absurd hero does not look back in regret or forwardwith hope--he or she simply accepts life as it is and keep going in accordance with a personal code.
The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that silent pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory's eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.
“The Myth of Sisyphus”
-- “Shine Perishing Republic”
Rootlessness. The sense of being disconnected from the land, the earth, what is natural.