Saturday, September 19, 2009

Existentialism of literary characters

A man's life in toto, or a man's œuvre, or even one man's moment provides for his remembered essence. Most lives are spent over many years. These lives are filled with the biological functionings of existence, which are not unique and of particular interest [only] to the biologist defining his subject. The number of accumulated years concerned with eating and sleeping, we can gloss over by ignoring. The existentialist questions of meaningfulness remain. Most lives are spent in quiet, ignominious desperation.

Albert Camus writes of the absurd man. He, a member of the resistance to the germans, when and where a bad moment could lead to extinction of one's life, still smoked many a cigarette in boredom. The boulder Sisyphus pushes up the hill, rolls back down, and Sisyphus pushes it back up again.

Dino Buzzati writes Il deserto dei Tartari, a parable in undefined time and place, of a life wasted in a desert desolation. Where men wait with anticipatory desperation for fictional marauders, for generations. Men unfamiliar with the geography and the adversary. Time continues its progress, youth fades into old age, dreams of significance turn to the tedium of regulation and habit. Life's destiny is monotony. Buzzati puts this in a forgotten, frontier fort; it was his milanese newspaper office.

Camus and Buzzati are not part of american popular culture. Charles Schulz is, his character Charlie Brown and his troupe are. Charlie Brown is the existential being. He dreams of success, he tries again and again. He is an exemplar of perseverance and fortitude, and many have empathised with that, for they too, strive but do not succeed.

The writer and his creation are not the same, even though, the product is embued with the character of the draftsman. The hero is a fictional construct with a tailored existence. The writer is mired as a plodding actor in a life he cannot control, for he cannot create his own existence.

Now, at least two generations of americans are familiar with Schulz. The suffering Charlie Brown represents the autobiographical anguish Charles Schulz felt. The rich imaginative, play life of the dog, Snoopy exercises the desires of fame, glory and action that he [we] did not experience. Schroeder diligently, and enthralled, at the piano is the artisan in productivity. Schroeder on occasion becomes furious over insulting interruption. Linus is the gentle, inquisitive soul of wonder and belief. The near circle of females are (mostly) cruel, selfish harpies [the girls from the other side of town, Peppermint Patty and Marcie are a comic duo of bumbling humanity].

Recently, Robert Short, a presbyterian minister, died. In the 1960s he evaluated Schulz's universe into a post-war reformed protestant orthodoxy. Since then a generation has passed, and Schulz's religious perspective did not remain static, and Short's onerous and oppressive calvinism is inadequate to satisfy and give justice. A lot of Schulz's work is the art of humor, and as humor it is a set form meant to entertain, and as a perspective on reality--not doctrinaire propaganda. As a finalised creation it becomes, in part, a metaphor for the audience to interpret.

No comments:

Post a Comment