Everything I Needed to Cope, I Learned from Arthur Dent

We all have internal defense mechanisms. We usually don’t develop them on purpose.  They just happen.

Mine came from, for starters, the absurdity of British science fiction and comedy.  It started with Monty Python.  Then I met Arthur Dent and the crew of the Heart of Gold. Such wonderful fodder for the imagination opened doors to other absurdist corridors.

For whatever reason, I found that my personal issues became far less threatening if I could wrap them up in absurd concepts, and reading such ridiculous stories provided me with more ammunition with which to fight that which bugged me.

Science Fiction and Fantasy provided the most magnificent vistas of such absurdity, though often it was couched in context that didn’t really fit in my modern landscape. But it often contained contextual handles that let me wire bits of it into my reality.

A lot of authors have absurdist chops without being known as absurdist authors. But they’ve found ways to hang absurdist concepts out there in the middle of serious-ish stories. Have a look at early Heinlein, or Niven’s Ringworld-era stories.  Heck, Niven even took an absurdist fan protest against The Ringworld’s concepts (“The Ringworld is unstable!”) and made it a plot element of a sequel.

Point being of all this, don’t let anyone tell you this stuff isn’t worth spending your time on.  What’s the point of Hamlet if you can’t relate? Shakespeare or Nietzsche might be Srs Bsns, but they’re also pretty much useless in helping you develop mental defenses against, well, pretty much anything. 

I mean, unless happiness is something you need defense against.