There is not Enough Absurdity in College Life

Happy, the Viking (400)

Usually at the end of the semester, especially in the spring semester, I dress up in costume, assume a character, and prank students in the corridors during the passing periods. In past years I have appeared as a Viking war-leader recruiting students for a raid on Kingston, Ontario, and as a Star Fleet Inspector-General on an evaluation tour of the satellite facility. My theory is that contemporary college life suffers from a dearth of absurdity. That is – it suffers from a dearth of the right kind of absurdity.  I want, naturally, to make up for the lack.

The trick in carrying out the mission is to stay in character resolutely, betraying absolutely no sense of incongruity or anachronism. It is also useful preparation to memorize one’s lines and the probable responses.  In Star Fleet  uniform, I asked the coed at the information desk whether she could direct me to Stellar Cartography – and the poor girl earnestly began looking up where I could find Stellar Cartography!

Happy the Viking is full of insistent questions…

PRANKSTER [to male student]: How many foemen have you felled for the thede?
STUDENT [sheepishly]: Well… er…
PRANKSTER [swiftly]: Practice daily – your score will improve!

Generally it happens that word gets around about an eccentric performance in the commons. A crowd gathers. I end up being asked to pose for photographs with the kids.

This year, with the cooperation of one of my graduate students, I dressed like a religious canvasser, armed myself with flyers, and heartily extended my hand to one and all (as the young lady did hers) on the pretext that today was “Lesser Gods Day.”

PRANKSTER [to male student]: We of the Campus Committee for the Lesser Gods feel that the Lesser Gods rarely receive the acknowledgment that they so richly deserve.
STUDENT [sheepishly]: Well… er…
PRANKSTER [swiftly]: And we’re just asking you to take a few seconds of one day out of the whole year to remember the Lesser Gods collectively – because they’re so many that it’s hard to recall them by individual name.

Here is the flyer, front and back:

Lesser Gods Day 01 Obverse

Lesser Gods Day 02 Reverse

One of the things that I’ve discovered over the years is that most people have a sense of humor and are at least willing to pay attention for a few seconds to a set-piece of obvious staged absurdity. Others, who perhaps are nascent ironists, even struggle to participate. More than a few people, however, are uncontaminated by playfulness or irony and probably wouldn’t recognize a joke if punched in the nose by one.

Faculty members tend to be even denser concerning humor than students. The more abstract the discipline the more prone the person will likely be to joke-resistant literalism.

COLLEAGUE [blandly]: I didn’t know that Lexus was an actual god.

The fact that canvassers passing out leaflets – usually to complain about some form of intolerable micro-aggression or outrageous marginalization or scandalous pay-gap – are a permanent feature of the college commons was helpful: It was entirely believable that the fellow in a neat jacket and tie, and the lovely young woman, were representing some cause that it would be impolitic to ignore. And who isn’t ready nowadays to assent to almost anything?

P.S. The spell-check program at WordPress doesn’t recognize the plural of ironist, which it wants to change to arsonists.  Welcome to the Twenty-First Century…

13 thoughts on “There is not Enough Absurdity in College Life

  1. Pingback: There is not Enough Absurdity in College Life | Neoreactive

  2. “The fact that canvassers passing out leaflets – usually to complain about some form of intolerable micro-aggression or outrageous marginalization or scandalous pay-gap”

    Alas, these are today’s pranksters… except they don’t see anything funny about using the word “thug” to describe black rioters. It’s deadly serious to them. They’ll always remain a joke to me however. I like their bewilderment when they have no clue what is being laughed at.

    The students, from the sounds of it, seem to enjoy what you do so its probably a welcome break from the cultural Marxist crap being spewed by the Panther Youth and the LGBTBBQ Society.

  3. To the utterance, “LGBTBBQ,” I always have a ready response: “Iä! Cthulhu ftaghn!”

    Actually, if you think about it, the “BBQ” part is enticing. It’s rare when I’m not hungry for roast pork slathered in sauce.

  4. Pingback: There is not Enough Absurdity in College Life | Reaction Times

  5. Wonderful! 🙂

    Interestingly, I used to live in Kingston, a city well-fortified with all its forts, Martello towers and cannons against a potential late 19th-century American invasion which never came; heaven help any Vikings going up against such! 😉

    • In case any Kingstonians are thinking of a preemptive strike, I remind them that Oswego also has fortifications, built similarly as a precaution: Namely, to stymie a Red-Coat invasion from across the lake. Personally, I favor the secession of the Laurentian and Eastern Lake-Ontario counties from Ontario, Quebec, and New York State to form a new Traditionalist polity. We might honor our old friend Lawrence Auster by naming it Laurentia. I urge that we elect Kristor as our first Monarch and King, and install him in Kingston, which is already aptly named.

  6. Don’t worry, Kristor, you won’t have to look through any periscopes at your coronation, and we won’t make you eat any tangerines either.

  7. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Early May Edition | Patriactionary

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