Sunteți pe pagina 1din 52

A Book of

Absurdities
Alan Northover
PREFACE

A Book of Absurdities is an artistic critique of human
culture: an irrational critique of reason and a rational
critique of the irrational. Absurdity is central to human
existence. It expresses the mysterious irrationality of
nature which confronts the human mind. Yet,
simultaneously, absurdity is the essence of human
reason, in the logical sense of reductio ad absurdum,
the refutation of a proposition by inferring from it a
self-contradictory conclusion. It may also be taken
loosely to mean the refutation of an idea by experience.
A Book of Absurdities is pervaded by Platonic
ideas, although it almost always seeks to subvert his
ideas, particularly his pretensions to Absolute Reason.
The critical approach to Platos ideas is informed by
Poppers critical rationalism. Platos philosophy,
however, also performs a more positive function: it has
proved useful for an exploration of modern materialism
and consumerism as well as of African tribalism and
spiritualism. Modern materialism, in turn, has made
possible a critical scrutiny of archaic spiritualism.
Platos Republic is the earliest surviving work to
state explicitly the principle of non-contradiction and
to discuss together the four natural virtues. The stories
are divided thematically between the passions and
virtues of the human soul, and between the Platonic
triad of the Good, the True and the Beautiful, although
overlap is inevitable. It should not be thought too
strange that death is frequent in the marriage (marital)
group but is absent from the war (martial) group; that
foolishness is the essence of the wisdom group; that
artistic principles are more evident in the war group
than the art group; and that love is absent from the

2
marriage group but is common to the justice group.
Marriage affects a compromise between love, death
and immortality; the wise fool is a Socratic idea;
modern armies uphold the ancient aesthetic principle
that everything has its proper place; and love and law
are intimately related, usually in opposition.
Amongst the fancies projected on to nature by
the human soul, the idea of an Eternal Being is perhaps
the most paradoxical of all. The idea of God is the
conclusion of an unqualified rationalism, based on the
principle of sufficient reason, a paradoxical principle
which states that every fact requires a reason. The
eternity group interrogates this idea.
The fact that there are thirty-one stories is
significant. Besides being an irrational prime
number, this is a number conventionally associated
with the length of a month, and it therefore contrasts
the rational length of the stories (each one hundred
words) with lunacy and the traditional inconstancy of
the moon. The hundred-word length of the stories,
however, is also perhaps an arbitrary pseudo-
rationalism, although it symbolises the principle of
non-contradiction.
Freudians may be right to identify in A Book of
Absurdities the concerns and obsessions of a young
bachelor, and J ungians may correctly emphasise
further the Old Man figure in the stories, but this need
not exhaust the stories. Hopefully the stories have a
broader significance than the merely autobiographical.
A Book of Absurdities seeks refutations of and
deeper tentative and self-critical explanations for
diverse beliefs, both supernatural and mundane,
without denying the beliefs, even if they may be false,
of their very real human importance. The stories record
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

3
a desire not to be deceived by illusions and false claims
to the True and the Good.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

4
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
MARRIAGE
1. THE STORM 7
2. THE VAMPIRE 8
3. BRAZILIANS MOURN THEIR DOUBLE
DEATH 9
4. VESSELS FILLED WITH SOUL 10
5. A TREE FALLS 11

WAR
6. ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE 13
7. BATTLE OF THE GODS 14
8. THE ART OF BUSH SURVIVAL 15
9. THE HUNT 16
10. ON PARADE 17

JUSTICE
11. THE LAWYER 19
12. THEODORIC 20
13. PLATO'S SECRET 21
14. THE ENIGMA OF DUKE ALANZA 22
15. PEBBLE 23

WISDOM
16. MOLOTO'S STORY 25
17. THE END OF THE MEANS 26
18. THE CLAIRVOYANT 27
19. MOLOTO'S BAPTISM 28
20. THE BEGGAR BOY 29

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

5
ART
21. A STORY WHICH TEACHES ITS READERS
HOW TO WRITE 31
22. AN AESTHETIC 32
23. THE NEW HYPERMARKET 33
24. THE NEW HYPERMARKET II 34
25. SPIRIT OF THE SEASIDE 35
26. AFRICAN MASK 36

ETERNITY
27. A CONCRETE CLOUD TO STILL A SOUL 38
28. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE 39
29. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE II 40
30. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE III 41
31. NOCTURNAL PARTY ON THE BEACH 42

APPENDIX
NOTES
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

6



MARRIAGE
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

7
1. THE STORM


The horizon starkly divides bright blue heavens from
ochre earth. There is the hot, dry smell of sun-baked
dust. A terrible stillness smothers everything.

A wind picks up, imperceptibly at first, then with
increasing intensity. The breeze brings moisture.
Clouds darken the sky. A solitary raindrop falls to the
earth and stirs up a tiny cloud of dust.

Suddenly the storm breaks. The downpour obliterates
the horizon in a homogenous grey. In the fury, all is
one.

The heavy, dark smell of moist earth outlives the
storm. Throughout the land seeds start pushing their
bright green shoots up towards heaven.

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

8
2. THE VAMPIRE

... procreation is as close as a mortal can get to being
immortal and undying


She materialised in his room in the dust of a
moonbeam, hypnotised him, and sucked his blood. In
the darkness of the moon she left him lying in a
deathlike sleep, blood in dust.

By the light of the sun, he found her tomb and entered
it and her: her deathless beauty enchanted him. As the
moment came, weakened with loss of blood, his heart
stopped. He died a mortal death.

Thus and only thus she conceived in her coffin and lost
her taste for human blood. The moon waned while she
swelled. She died in childbirth, an immortal death.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

9
3. BRAZILIANS MOURN THEIR DOUBLE
DEATH

Than whan his name apalled is for age,
Thanne is it best, as for a worthy fame,
To dyen whan that he is best of name.


"RIO DE J ANEIRO. Brazilians mourned the death of
Ayrton Senna yesterday, calling him the country's
greatest sports hero behind Pele and criticising
Formula One officials for rule changes they say caused
his fatal crash." (Pretoria News Monday, May 2, 1994,
p. 1)

"RECIFE (Brazil). In a ceremony befitting the
football royalty status of its primary man, Pele (fifty-
three) was married to a thirty-four-year-old
psychologist here on Saturday in this coastal town,
northeast of Rio.
"The king of football cried during the fifty-minute
service..." (Pretoria News Monday, May 2, 1994, p. 5)

The less fatal Brazilian death received front-page
coverage: weep with Pele for his long and happy
marriage!
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

10
4. VESSELS FILLED WITH SOUL


Earth bore fruit wherever heaven rained, except in
areas of clay, the earth which holds water.

The blind old woman gathered some clay and, inside
her cave, pounded out the air-bubbles. Wise fingers
fashioned from the clay a vessel, a space within space,
to contain good things. She made several copies, her
eyes fixed inwardly on the original in heaven.

When the rain ceased and she could feel the light of the
sun, the old woman placed the vessels outside her cave.
The eye of heaven burned the water out of them and
made them hard, weak imitations of eternity.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

11
5. A TREE FALLS


An author, filled with admiration for an ancient oak
tree, wrote a story:

An old man contemplated an ancient tree and
considered how much older it was than he, and how
much longer it would continue to exist once he had
died. In a fiery fury, fuelled by envy, the man chopped
the tree down. As the tree fell it crushed the man
beneath it. From the trees stump a twig eventually
grew into a new tree.

Many trees fell to provide the paper to publish the story
just so that the author could achieve a pale copy of
immortality.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

12



WAR
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

13
6. ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE

Dedicated to Moloto, the wisest zombie


Moloto laughed at Kgomos misunderstanding,
following the chaplains sermon to the North Sotho
auxiliaries, that resurrection meant Gods turning all
men into zombies.

Moloto knew that zombies were men believed by their
kin to be dead, but in fact bewitched by magicians to
work on their farms without pay.

That weekend was closed: the auxiliaries were not
permitted to go on leave: they would not see their
families that month. Instead, they were encouraged to
spend their wages on alcohol and cigarettes from the
expensive canteen.

They all paid the fine for being AWOL, even those
who stayed in camp.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

14
7. BATTLE OF THE GODS


For ages Artemis, in her quadruple nature of goddess
of virgins, childbirth, death and hunting, held the
contradictions of Nature together in an uneasy alliance.
In the higher heavens these contradictions were
reconciled in the separate deities of Aphrodite, Zeus,
Kronos and Ares.
*


Then the Madonna came and usurped two of Artemis'
functions, thus dethroning the respective superior
powers. J esus ousted Ceres and Bacchus, and
incorporated in his single person their two gifts to
mankind.

The Greeks eventually came to accept the new regime,
but they could not help wondering what had happened
to Kronos and Ares during the battle.

*
See Appendix
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

15
8. THE ART OF BUSH SURVIVAL

For Plato did not confine himself to teaching that each
of the different classes of citizens has its natural place
in society... he also tried to interpret the world of
physical bodies... on similar principles


"The aim of observation," said the instructor, "is to
identify objects which do not belong in the landscape."
The recruits struggled to write this down, because dust
blinded them and their pens. The corporal then
concealed the contents of one recruit's backpack in the
bushes nearby for the others to look out for on a play-
act patrol.

Back at the regimented bungalows, which were
separated from the veld only by small, tidy gardens, the
recruits prepared for inspection. The space between
each item of kit had to be measured by the width of a
matchbox, packed with obedient, blind matches.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

16
9. THE HUNT


The forest knows no horizon, but the trees all point up
towards heaven. Wolves complain to the full moon.

Poor woodcutters, uncouth civilisers on the infinite
forest's fringe, cower in terror. They fear the werewolf.

Then comes the hunt. Wolves flee in terror, or cower
and die. Great, ravaging boars retreat to the deepest
woods. The very tree gods flee before the furious flood
of men, horses and dogs, of horns, spears and arrows.

When the hunt ends, the trees are all in place. The old
fear of the woods returns to its rightful home in the
foresters' tormented souls.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

17
10. ON PARADE


There was complete silence on the parade ground. The
men stood in their companies, facing east, heads
bowed, right hands pressing their green berets to their
hearts. At the back of the parade ground the bull,
symbol of the battalions strength, stood bemused.

The fat chaplain started praying from the podium for
the self-discipline to resist earthly pleasures. While he
prayed, several cows were being herded past the
camps eastern fence.

The chaplains Amen was pre-empted by a plaintive
bellow from the bull, who had been watching the
movement of the cows lecherously, restrained as he
was by his nose-ring.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

18



JUSTICE
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

19
11. THE LAWYER


We sat in a waiting room at the Institute of Law, while
a friend registered for an examination. My companion,
who had already qualified as an attorney, started
browsing through the latest edition of a legal magazine.

When our friend returned and we stood up to leave, my
companion casually rolled up the magazine and took it
with him. With a sense of guilt, I said nothing until we
had left the building, whereupon I inquired, half-
jokingly, "How could you pinch that magazine, having
spent so many years studying law?" He replied, "Some
excellent jobs were advertised in the magazine."

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

20
12. THEODORIC

Unless... philosophers become kings... there is no rest
from ills for the cities... nor will the regime we have
now described in speech ever... see the light of the sun


Theodoric, the people's king, Rome's wise peace-
bringer, wondered what pernicious spirit had moved
his trusted, philosophical councillor to look east and
plot against him.

He imprisoned Boethius in a cave away from the light
of the sun, where he wrote. Reluctantly, moved by the
spirit of the people, the King of Rome eventually
handed Boethius over to them. But he prudently
preserved Boethius' golden volume.

They tied ropes around Boethius' head and squeezed
tight until his heaven-seeking eyes left their cave-like
sockets and fell to the ground. Then they bludgeoned
him to death. Later they came to love his book.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

21
13. PLATOS SECRET


Plato pretended to open a neutral school of pure
science, the study of universals, in the grove of
Akademeia, in view of Athens, withdrawn from
politics.

For him a universal was both the whole collection of
things of one kind and the best example of those things
in the set. He must therefore have understood a
universal to be the founder Father of a tribe of things,
and the particulars, the children.

The universals told him how to rule wisely. The
universal philosopher thus had particular designs,
believing that he alone, the true lover of wisdom, could
found Athenas tribe.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

22
14. THE ENIGMA OF DUKE ALANZA


Marxist scholars cannot reduce Duke Alanza's
enigmatic actions to economic forces, for never was
there a more extravagant attempt to impose mind on
matter.

Documentary research reveals that Duke Alanza, a
fervent Platonist, modelled himself on the Demiurge of
Plato's Timaeus and planned to create the perfect
society of Atlantis described in Plato's Republic and
Critias.

In 1502, having impoverished the prosperous
Dukedom of Malaga, Duke Alanza lost his life in a
civil war when his free peasants finally revolted against
his attempts to enslave them and force them to move,
rock by rock, a mountain into the Atlantic Ocean.

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

23
15. PEBBLE


The seas beauty was too big for her to take home.
Therefore she pocketed an ovoid, sea-worn pebble,
with variegated colours that glittered brightly. Its
orange was the sun and the sands; its slate blue, the sky
and the sea; its crystal, the sea foam.

When she took the pebble out of her pocket back
home, it was dry, scarred and dull. So she cried until,
to her surprise, her tears made the pebble wet and shiny
again.

Later, whenever care-worn and sad, she would shed
tears on her pebble and reproduce a consoling image of
the sea's eternal beauty.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

24



WISDOM
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

25
16. MOLOTO'S STORY

Eudaimonia literally means "to have a good daimon, a
good guardian spirit"


Moloto said that when the fat cat arrived in
Molotoland, he bought the book shop, converted half
of it into a shebeen. Teachers and pupils flocked to the
book shop to drink together.

The fat cat feared the king's men, especially Moloto,
since he read much and divined the fat cat's schemes.
He tried to chop Moloto's tongue down, but Moloto
jumped over his ambush, with the ancestors' help.

Moloto took the magicked beer can, meant to zombify
him, to a witchdoctor for backfiring. Moloto could not
read the bones, but they told the witchdoctor that
Moloto should avoid spirits.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

26
17. THE END OF THE MEANS

Any action can only be propogated by a velocity
smaller than or equal to the velocity of light


The Buddhist monastery was embedded high upon the
mountain slope. It overlooked a lush valley. Only one
path, narrow and dangerous, led from the monastery to
the valley below. The unageing monks sat in eternal
meditation and communicated with the stars.

Then, by a marvel of modern technology, a
prefabricated building was flown into the beautiful
valley, to hold the annual physics conference. Almost
before the whole building had been erected, the
conference was over, and the scientists left, pleased at
having proved relativity.

Unaware of the activity below, the monks continued
their instantaneous exchange of thoughts with extra-
terrestrial minds.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

27
18. THE CLAIRVOYANT

Logic and likelihood thus both require us to regard the
pyramid as the solid figure that is the basic unit or
seed of fire...


The clairvoyant handed her customer the Fool; she held
the Magician.

Up the road the wise old man retired to his study. From
the Republic he had learned all about the soul. But now
he wrote about nature:
The modern scientific ideas of the periodic table and
of the quantified measurement of physical change come
from Plato's atomistic and geometric theory of the four
elements. Archaic systems of divination prefer his
numerological mysticism...

She read the cards, first the major arcana, then the
numbers and elements of the minor trumps. They told
her to send the Fool to the Hermit.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

28
19. MOLOTO'S BAPTISM


The ZCC priests threw Moloto into the healing springs
of Moria, then reeled him in.

They waved paper over a used coke bottle, half-filled
with water from the springs, and chanted Genesis 1:2.
They explained that Moloto need no longer fear
bewitched beer since their high priest, Chief Minister
of God, had power over water, and therefore over
everything.

To purge himself of evil spirits, Moloto had to drink
daily many litres of tea, blessed by and bought from
the ZCC, and mixed with a few drops of the holy
water.

Moloto was now no longer master of his own water.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

29
20. THE BEGGAR BOY


When a beggar boy asked a housewife for eight rand to
retrieve his trousers from the dry-cleaners, she decided
to test him.

She drove him to the dry-cleaners. They denied
knowledge of his trousers. He then asked her to drive
him to a housemaid, employed in a neighbouring
suburb, who had patched another pair of his trousers.

The housemaid demanded twelve rand for her work,
but accepted the housewifes offer of ten for the
threadbare trousers, knowing the boy would never pay.
The beggar boy exclaimed delightedly that, having
found smart trousers, he could go to Sun City to
gamble.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

30



ART
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

31
21. A STORY WHICH TEACHES ITS READERS
HOW TO WRITE

... "philosophy is the systematic interpretation of all
experience"...


He read:
An author must experience everything before he
may write. Therefore he must travel.
So his eyes travelled their familiar path over the dusty
titles of the library he had collected during his
unbroken years of study.

Marx's three volumes jostled for space between
Kolakowski's three and Popper's two. Ayer's little book
filled the nothingness between ponderous Heidegger
and bulky Sartre. Hume's Treatise and Kant's Critique
threatened to push Plotinus off the end of the shelf...

Inspired, he started to write: he had experienced
everything and nothing. In his dustbin lay a brief,
glossy travel brochure of the orient.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

32
22. AN AESTHETIC

Dedicated to my father who daily holds life and death
in his hands


Darkness. Then something, unidentifiable but present,
almost negligible in the vast oblivion. It becomes a
point of light. Something else accompanies it, intense
and insistent, but muted.

The light grows together with the newly identified
sense of pain; both increasingly intense. As the light
grows the darkness retreats reluctantly before the
relentless pain.

The patient's eyes open, blinded by light. The pain is
unbearable. It frustrates the deep desire to return to the
sanctuary of darkness.

Anaesthetic eyes perceive the movement. Anaesthetic
fingers release their pressure on the place where the
patient's ears and jaw meet, pleased with their creation.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

33
23. THE NEW HYPERMARKET


The new hypermarket was built just down the road
from the others. Like all the others it offered
everything one could possibly desire.

People flooded the hypermarket. Some bought
everything they desired, and more. Some came to look
at that which they could not afford. Others came
simply to participate in the spirit of the thing. Still
others, having nothing better to do, just came to look.
They all left unsatisfied.

A blind old beggar sat each day at the main entrance to
the new hypermarket. He sang only until he had earned
enough to eat, then meditated in peace.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

34
24. THE NEW HYPERMARKET II


A new hypermarket was built in the middle of the Gobi
desert. Nomadic shepherds built a permanent tent town
around the hypermarket, began their own lucrative,
dusty curio shops, and grew fat. Tourists could now
admire without inconvenience the quaint customs and
frugal lifestyle of the nomads.

Soon the hypermarket undercut the nomads curio
businesses by selling cheap imitations. Tourists no
longer even had to step outside the cool shade of the
hypermarket and endure the harsh desert sun.

Eventually the hypermarket closed down, because
tourists found it still more convenient to buy the curios
at the hypermarkets back home.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

35
25. SPIRIT OF THE SEASIDE


Sea waves beat incessantly against unmoving rocks
and broken water runs back into the sea. In rock pools,
sea water lies still. Smaller rocks are wedged securely
in between larger rocks.

Sometimes the clash of sea on rocks produces foam
which the breeze blows through the air. Some rocks
project out of the sand, others out of the sea. The sun-
heated rocks shimmer; the cold, water-washed rocks
glisten.

Breakers churn the sand on the beach and roll small
stones up and down the shore. The breeze whips up the
hot, dry sand which lies beyond the reach of the waves.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

36
26. AFRICAN MASK


The Zairian mask was pentagonal, abstract, typically
Songean. Its main lines converged, cruciform, on the
pursed lips at the centre of the impassive face. The
bridge of the nose continued up to the apex of the
dome-like forehead.

The Zairian seller spoke broken English, asking for
sixty. I proffered thirty. He protested. I offered forty,
then pretended to lose interest, putting the coveted
mask down and turning to go. He accepted my offer.
We parted, both pleased with the deal.

I wondered how authentic the mask cheap yet
venerable-seeming could be, hoping I had not
contracted ebola in the exchange.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

37



ETERNITY
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

38
27. A CONCRETE CLOUD TO STILL A SOUL

... so when he ordered the heavens he made in that
which we call time an eternal moving image of the
eternity which remains forever at one


He sat still in the swiftly moving car, while his eyes
wandered at large outside the window.

The almost imperceptible shifting of the distant,
perpetual purple hills unsettled him; the steady passage
of interminable bushveld increased his discomfort; he
was alarmed by the yellow grass which sped by
endlessly; and nausea answered the flashing-by of the
orange gravel beside the blurred blue-gray road.

His desperate glance chanced upon the wing mirror's
reflection of the window's exterior reflection. The
image of an unmoveable concrete block of a bright
white cloud high in a quiet, clear blue sky stilled his
spinning soul.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

39
28. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE


The old man sought a suitable medium on which to
record his discovery. Paper was no good since it
burned too easily, so he inscribed the heavy words into
a grave rock: The existence of a contingent world of
change presupposes an eternal Being.

The old man eventually dried up, died, decayed. The
rock was exposed to the fury of the elements, but the
desert's hostile sands of time could not erase the
message. So the sands buried the rock instead, in
protected obscurity.

Future ages delivered the rock from its preserving
tomb, but they could not decipher the words.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

40
29. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE II


The author inscribed his dark discoveries into a
megalith:
It must be assumed that the human mind nature
become conscious of itself has emerged from matter
gradually, randomly and unrepeatably. Fearing
certain mortality, humans have projected on to nature,
and in their own image, the false idea of an eternal
guiding Intelligence behind evolution.

The rock survived not only the authors death, but also
the eventual extinction of all mankind. Thus the
message was lost to intelligence forever.

This story is impossible: the author becomes the eternal
Intelligence that he denies, by conceiving of the rocks
past and future inconceivability.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

41
30. THE PERMANENT MESSAGE III


In an obscure bookshop, I came across a Golden
Treasury edition (1866, last reprinted in 1898) of
Plato's Republic. The copy, one hundred years old, cost
only five rand!

Answering my astonishment, the gnomic book seller
reminded me that the book had been published
countless times in innumerable languages, many no
longer spoken, including the original Greek. Numerous
empires had risen and fallen since the work's first
publication, which is twenty-four times older than this
present edition. He concluded that Plato's ideas, the
discovery of eternal being, are themselves eternal, and
will outlast their every reproduction.

I bought the book anyway.

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

42
31. NOCTURNAL PARTY ON THE BEACH


For reasons beyond them teenagers chose to drink on
the beach that night.

Because of the Beauty of the seas endless rhythms.
Because of the marvellous Truth implied: that the
rhythms exist, have existed and will exist when no
humans are there to perceive them. Because of the
Goodness arising from this knowledge: that for all
eternity this Beauty has been perceived by a Supreme
Consciousness, of Whose Perfection our minds are
imperfect copies and ever strive to imitate.

In the morning, all that remained of the teenagers
nocturnal party were dozens of empty beer cans strewn
on the beach.
A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
43



APPENDIX

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
44
THE PAGAN GODS AS EXPRESSIONS OF THE HUMAN
SOUL


ARTEMIS/DIANA
(Nature)





chastity childbirth death hunting


marriage


heavenly love earthly love
(agape/caritas) (eros/cupiditas)


( pro)creation destruction


APHRODITE/ ZEUS/ KRONOS/ ARES/
VENUS JUPITER SATURN MARS



Love Law Change War



temperance justice prudence fortitude






Virtues
(Culture)

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
45





NOTES

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
46

THE VAMPIRE
Plato Symposium 206e

BRAZILIANS MOURN THEIR DOUBLE DEATH
Chaucer The Knight's Tale 3053-56
Achilles had the same choice: a long ignoble life of
worldly attachment exemplified by marriage followed
by eternal obscurity; or a brief heroic life a courageous
death in battle followed by eternal fame. He chose
heaven. The Vampire offers a different perspective.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE
The soldiers of a certain Northern Sotho battalion felt that
they were being enslaved and exploited like zombies.
They were neither national servicemen nor permanent
force, but auxiliaries, which meant they were fighting
neither out of duty nor for decent pay. Most of them were
married with children. In times of political crisis, they
were forced to spend closed weekends in camp on stand
by. The rest of the time they could not afford to travel the
long distances home to be with their families. Thus they
were forced to remain in camp for weeks on end, and were
encouraged to spend their pay on the cigarettes and
alcohol available at the camps canteen. Consequently,
they often had no choice but to go AWOL in order to
attend to pressing domestic affairs. If they were caught,
they either had to pay a fine or spend time in DB.
The system of auxiliaries has subsequently been scrapped.


A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
47
THE ART OF BUSH SURVIVAL
Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume
2 (1966), p. 5.
Plato divided people up into their natural places in an
ideal, three-tiered society: ruler, soldier, or worker. The
soldiers were expected to obey their leaders blindly.

THEODORIC
Plato Republic 473d
Theodoric is Old German for rule of the people, theod
(folk) +ric (rule).

PLATOS SECRET
It is a modern myth that Plato withdrew in disgust from
Athenian politics, after Athens had condemned Socrates
to death, and founded his Academy solely for the
disinterested pursuit of knowledge. In fact Plato and his
students later tried to intervene in Mediterranean politics
in the name of Platos philosopher-ruler ideal. The
study of universals was really part of their political
education.

TOKOLOSHE
The Weekly Mail and Guardian, J anuary 27 to February 2
(1995), p. 10; It is widely believed that anyone who
owns one of these animal-like beings [a tokoloshe] can
acquire great wealth at the expense of others... When a
woman loses interest in her husband, it is often interpreted
as being the result of rape by the tokoloshe.
Whereas the Northern Sotho believe in zombies, the Zulu
believe in the tokoloshe, a kind of mischievous imp, not
unlike certain malicious European faeries.
Who would be correct? The Marxist who maintains that
the tokoloshe represents the nouveau riche, controlling the
production and reproduction of society? Or the Freudian
who claims that the tokoloshe is an expression of the

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
48
peoples guilt: the women for their adultery; and the men
for their failure to find work to support their families?
Both? Neither?
The ideas on witch persecution come from Keith Thomas,
Religion and the Decline of Magic (1991), p. 670; African
witch persecution is fuelled by envy and directed at the
rich, hence discouraging technical progress and individual
initiative, sustaining a rough egalitarianism (Thomas, p.
643).

MOLOTOS STORY
D.W. Hamlyn, The Penguin History of Western
Philosophy (1987), p. 73. Eudaimonia is Greek for
happiness which, Plato and Aristotle argued, is the
ultimate end in life.

THE END OF THE MEANS
Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1962), p.
103.
Of course, Buddhists do not really communicate with
extra-terrestrial minds when they meditate. The
suggestion, however, is that if minds, having no
extension, could communicate directly, without a physical
medium, then information could conceivably be
exchanged quicker than the speed of light, in fact,
instantaneously. The physical distance between the
communicators would be irrelevant.

THE CLAIRVOYANT
All divination systems have the same basic end as
philosophy and psycho-analysis: self-knowledge. Tarot
cards systematically plot aspects of the soul. The Devil,
for instance, represents desire, the Hermit, wisdom. The
four natural virtues (see the Appendix) are found in the
Major Arcana. The weaknesses of divination systems are

A Book of Absurdities by Alan Northover (1996)
49
their mysticism, fatalism, authoritarianism and
irrefutability.

MOLOTOS BAPTISM
ZCC means Zionist Christian Church
An interesting comparison of the medieval Church and
African churches can be found in Keith Thomas, Religion
and the Decline of Magic (1991), p. 52.

A STORY WHICH TEACHES ITS READERS HOW TO
WRITE
J ohn Hospers, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis
(1967), p. 55.

AN AESTHETIC
An anaesthetist has various means of reviving patients
who struggle to awaken. One way is to apply painful
pressure, using his fingers, to the patients jaw just behind
the ears.

AFRICAN MASK
The mask was bought at the Market Square flea market in
J ohannesburg, 15 April 1995, while the Biennale Arts
Festival was still in progress.

A CONCRETE CLOUD TO STILL A SOUL
Plato Timaeus 37d