I've seem to be having a lot of discussions lately about Absurd plays. I helped one friend with a quick paper on Endgame by Beckett, which was really fun; I loves me some Beckett. I've also had several mini discussions about No Exit by Sartre with another friend of mine. Most of these discussions are prompted by a sign at the gym we've been going to. The sign says (this will be a big surprise) "No Exit" it big, red, cartoonish letters. Very few people, I think, would see that and think "weird existential theater." These minor events have brought to the surface thoughts of the absurd plays I've read, and general pondering of existentialism as well.
I want to talk about No Exit though. That play presents one of my absolute favorite versions of Hell. It's simple. Hell is other people. The three characters (ok, there are 4 characters in the play, but the Valet is only there for a few moments) are stuck with each other and have such personalities that it is impossible for them to get along.
The obvious question to ask now is: Who would be in your own personal Hell?
Who do you know that would make eternity complete torture if you had to spend it with them? In the play, the three people are complete strangers. It's difficult to know how you get a long with an ambiguous set of characteristics. So to answer the question, I say you have to pretty much look to people you've met. Assume that in your personal hell, it would be this person or someone almost exactly like them.
It gets more complicated actually. Not only do the two people you pick have to make it hell for you, but it has to be hell for them too. That part makes it very tricky.
I've given this question more though than I probably should have. I know who my two people would be, and I'm not going to name them here. Seems like that would bring some bad joo-joo down on me.
Person A is a girl I knew in High School. She was actually a very good friend of mine from 7th grade on. Because of our history, and a completely underdeveloped ability to mistrust my friends, I forgave her several betrayals. At some point I finally threw my hands up and cut ties with her completely. I was sick of the drama that seemed to follow her everywhere, and sick of having to watch my back all the time.
She did, however, teach me how I didn't want to be. Her blatant hypocrisy about almost everything made me loathe that in myself and in other people. I think it's impossible for people to not be hypocritical sometimes, but I do my best to avoid it. It's one of the only things I have a really hard time forgiving in other people. Throughout our whole friendship there was a sense of competitiveness with her. There were many times we would both go after the same guy. One time she made a play for a guy just because she thought I liked him. I mentioned the drama that followed her around. Plus the passive-aggressiveness that came from that girl was outstanding!
Person B is... well, it's El Douche. Yes, the ex-boyfriend. Seems too easy, doesn't it. But his appearance in my personal Hell has less to do with the whole relationship thing, and more to do with his personality. It could be him, or someone very much like him, either way, I would suffer immensely.
My biggest beef with him is his hypocrisy. When the relationship ended and when our friendship came to a close, he was incredibly critical of me. Thing is, I could have turned every criticism around and said it back to him and it probably would have been more accurate. His ego constantly twists reality to suit him. Plus, he is one of those guys who feels they have to prove their manhood to whoever they're talking to. He brags, a lot, and exaggerates. I promise this isn't bitter ex talk. Just ask other people who know him.
So I obviously don't like either of these people, but I'm pretty sure they would clash horribly with each other too. Even though I dislike them both for somewhat similar reasons, they each have one thing in common that would make it impossible for them to like each other. Both A and B are completely sure that the universe and everything in it was put here just for them*. The level of self-centeredness contained in each of them would probably rip a hole in the fabric of reality if they got together. In our Hell, they would instantly clash and start fighting about who is more perfectly the center of everything. It would, of course, be a very quiet, passive-agressive fight.
*yes, I know that I can be very ego-centric. I'm blogging from the center of the universe for fucksake. I'm often very full of myself. But I'm also aware of people besides myself. My personal selfishness would probably make things worse of all of us too. God, I hope I don't end up in this hell. Perhaps it's time to start repenting all my sins and "get religion." Or not.
Also, apropos of nothing, we've come up with an awesome band name: Samuel Beckett and the Matadors. We'll play existential indy rock and be super pretentious.