January 22nd, 2024
Preview, General Election

HAMM (exasperated):
Have you not finished? Will you never finish?
(With sudden fury.)
Will this never finish?
(Nagg disappears into his bin, closes the lid behind
him. Nell does not move. Frenziedly.)
My kingdom for a nightman!
(He whistles. Enter Clov.)
Clear away this muck! Chuck it in the sea!
(Clov goes to bins, halts.)
So white.
What? What’s she blathering about?
(Clov stoops, takes Nell’s hand, feels her pulse.)
NELL (to Clov):
(Clov lets go her hand, pushes her back in the bin,
closes the lid.)
CLOV (returning to his place beside the chair):
She has no pulse.
What was she drivelling about?
She told me to go away, into the desert.
Damn busybody! Is that all?
What else?
I didn’t understand.
Have you bottled her?
Are they both bottled?

June 24th, 2022
Our Miss Brooks and Stasigirl will more than amply fill the empty hours before the next…

January 6 hearing.

Mo Brooks, body-armored rouser of insurrectionists, Trump’s La Pasionaria— until betrayal and defeat twisted her within so badly that she has now agreed to cry her a river to the committee — promises to keep us occupied with her long weepy plaints to anyone who will listen. Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned would seem the appropriate quotation here.

As for Stasigirl: Over the course of two days, would-be Justice Department czar Jeffrey Clark

  1. watched several people describe her as a desperate pathetic lying traitorous idiot in front of the entire world, and
  2. stood outside in her pajamas in the street in front of her house as the FBI searched it for documents related to her treason.

THE RAID WAS EXACTLY LIKE STASI! she boohooed – until her interviewer, realizing that Fox viewers know fuck-all about Stasi, began calling it Stalinist. Whatever vile authoritarian Thing it was, Clark’s Golgatha (UD advises Clark to switch from historical to religious terminology – much more accessible) will, we have reason to hope, inspire her to unburden herself, at length, to many media outlets.

True, neither of these stopgaps represents our true heart’s desire – it’s Giuliani and Eastman we want, front and center, frothing at the mouth, bleeding from a dye job – but for the moment Mo and Jeff will do fine.

April 28th, 2022
The Russian Nihilists

[In perhaps the most shocking declaration about a nuclear holocaust delivered on Russian television in recent months, Simonyan concluded that the idea “that everything will end with a nuclear strike, to me, is more probable than the other outcome. This is to my horror, on one hand, but on the other hand, with the understanding that it is what it is. … We are all going to die someday.]


From a Russian documentary about Nikolay Chernyshevsky:

Nihilist: Ve believes in nossing, Lebowski. Nossing. And tomorrow ve come back and ve cut off your chonson.

The Dude: Excuse me?

Nihilist: I said we’ll cut off your johnson!

Nihilist #2: Just think about that, Lebowski.

Nihilist: Ja, your viggly penis, Lebowski.

Nihilist #3: Yeah and maybe we stomp on it and squoosh it, Lebowski.

March 23rd, 2022
By Д. Хеллер.

Two Russian soldiers have been caught venting about Putin’s “bullshit” war against Ukraine in an intercepted phone call as devastating losses reportedly led one soldier to drive over his colonel with a tank.

“Basically, it’s a shitshow here, I’ll put it that way,” an unnamed soldier near Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine can be heard telling a colleague in a recording released by Ukraine’s Security Service late Tuesday.

After telling his friend that Ukrainian forces “tore apart” a column of Russian forces sent along with his own unit, he described complete disarray among the Russian military, with 50 percent of the unit suffering from frostbite on their feet…

“It’s such trash here… our own plane dropped a bomb on us,” he said.

“They couldn’t even send off the 200s here,” he said, using a Russian military term for dead bodies. “They rode with us for five days.”

“Even in Chechnya, there was nothing like this,” he said, describing the situation as a “madhouse.”…

[T]wo tactical groups of Russian soldiers in Makarov, in the Kyiv region, lost at least half of their men in battles against Ukrainian forces.

One of the Russian soldiers “blamed the commander of the group, Col. Yury Medvedev, for the deaths of his friends,” [a Ukrainian journalist] wrote on Facebook.

“Having waited for the right moment, during battle, he ran over the commander with a tank as he stood next to him, injuring both his legs.”‘

October 2nd, 2021
Kids these days!

[Squid Game‘s] plotline center[s] around games resembling viral challenges that then translate seamlessly into memeification, particularly on TikTok, where much of the buzz for the [extremely violent] show has grown among a young audience already used to making nihilist jokes about school shootings and societal collapse.

January 4th, 2021

Samuel Beckett, Paris, 2021

Written at breakneck speed in response to dramatic political events, Beckett’s En Attendant Mon-Vote was originally composed in French and subsequently translated into English by the author.  We have signaled that unusual creative history by retaining the French title for this translated edition.

Notorious for the absurdity and nihilism at its core, En Attendant introduces the world to the bitter bickering, the pointless game-playing, the shameless histrionics, the conspiracy-theory paranoia, and the sheer human pathos of its central characters, Trumpimir and Giulagon — two men whose desperation to remain “center-stage” in their own lives is continually undone by their sense of the almost comic futility of existence.

Thus burdened, both men alternate grandiose aggressive activity with long stretches of withdrawn enigmatic silence, a silence broken, for Trumpimir, by repeated rounds of golf (see the character Luckleigh’s famous speech about golf, as well as tennis, late in the play), and, for both men, by farting in public.  Indeed it is the combination of meaningless trivial activity (golf) and the reduction of the human, with all its metaphysical striving, to the lowest animal forms of expression, which gives En Attendant its peculiar tragic/comic power.

We offer an excerpt from the play here.





A country road.  A tree.  A derelict landscaping company with a sign in front reading Four Seasons.


Trumpomir, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take apart a voting machine.  He pulls at it with both hands, panting.  He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.  As before.  Enter Giulagon.

TRUMPOMIR: (Giving up again). Nothing to be done.

GIULAGON: (Advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart) I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying, Giulagon, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Trumpomir.) So there you are again.


GIULAGON: I’m glad to see you back. I thought you were gone to Mar-A-Lago forever.


GIULAGON: Together again at last! We’ll have to celebrate this. But how? (He reflects.) Get up till I embrace you.

TRUMPOMIR: (irritably). Not now, not now.

GIULAGON: (hurt, coldly) May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?

ESTRAGON: On the phone. 

GIULAGON: (admiringly) The phone! With who?

TRUMPOMIR:(miserably) Raffensperger.

GIULAGON:  And he didn’t back you?

TRUMPOMIR:  BACK me? (Lets out an enormous fart.)  Certainly he didn’t back me. Refused to pick up the phone eighteen times before he finally answered and then he mocked me and then he released a recording of the call! … I’m still waiting… for my vote…

September 30th, 2020
“A Debate of Depravity”

Here’s one from a theater critic who gets it: He doesn’t mention the character this blog has been mentioning from the moment the current president took office: Alfred Jarry’s Pere Ubu. (Here’s last night’s debate. Settle in.) But in a short piece he makes two other stops along the Theater of the Absurd: Sartre’s No Exit and Carroll’s Wonderland.

And what in particular he gets is that Carroll, Jarry, and Sartre (throw in Beckett and Kafka and Ionesco) deal in tragicomedy – the grotesque mix of violence (“Stand back and stand by.”), farce, and despair that characterizes human beings abandoned by a world of meaning and spirit and therefore no longer human beings at all, only empty angry creatures mired in the thing we’ve got left when humanity vanishes: “primate-dominance.”

Still having trouble grasping the tragicomic absurd, the agonized incredulity we feel again and again at the spectacle of our shabby, vacuous, almost unbearably stupid world? Try this: Our country’s most intensely Christian, most deeply born-again, population, has anointed as its savior, its avatar of spiritual transformation and transcendence, a stillborn baby, one of the dead bundles tossed onstage in another absurdist drama, The Marriage of Bette and Boo. That’s what we’re worth! That’s the value of human life in a dead world!

And that’s why the theater critic writes this – of a political debate! –

No other presidential debate, ever, has been so personally painful, or made one feel one’s mortality more.

Why the hell does one feel one’s mortality during a presidential debate?

Because this husk, lent artificial animation with rouge and roughhousing, embodies our fears about about our own death-in-life — he’s Gustav von Aschenbach at the end of Death in Venice, a corpse painted and pomaded in an effort to disguise itself as infused with vitality, spirit, and meaning. The pointlessness of the debate, with Ubu doing his terminal rattle over the thing until time ran out, is the futility we feel when we allow ourselves to contemplate not just the death that awaits us, but the life-in-death of our absurd world. Mr Trump, last night, staged the personally painful possibility that nothing – including us – means, or is, anything.

January 15th, 2020
for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labours abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull

Player Forced to Retire at Australian Open With Coughing Fit Caused by Bushfire Smoke


November 10th, 2019
How do you want to go out?

At 81, Harvard’s highest-profile emeritus has chosen to close out his life anticly and frantically suing everyone in sight. And in return getting sued.

Like his doubles in desuetude, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, he has long been a naughty boy, a game-player, a rule-breaker, and he intends to go down swinging as the rule of law catches up with him. But as he is very old, his punches aren’t landing. He and his doubles are hollow men.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when 
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless

Observers try to capture the convoluted farce Alan Dershowitz has made of his life:

[E]very argument he makes creates even worse fallout: Don’t just deny… demand they sue you! Then get sued. Don’t just litigate the case… get [David] Boies kicked off! End up facing [brilliant litigator] Chuck Cooper. Don’t just claim [Virginia] Giuffre’s mistaken [about your sexual crimes]… accuse Boies of blackmailing you! Get sued by Boies.

He might have quietly settled various cases against him; he might have retreated to Martha’s Vineyard, as the lights dimmed, with a little dignity. Instead, this bizarre American figure, this deflated pop-up doll, keeps trying to pop. We cannot help watching him. And his doubles.

Here we go round the prickly pricks
Prickly pricks prickly pricks
Here we go round the prickly pricks
At five o’clock in the morning.


UPDATE: Portrait of a man drowning.

August 24th, 2018
‘But to really get the feel for the Trump administration’s end, we must turn to the finest political psychologist of them all, William Shakespeare.’

No, no, don’t go all Macbethian! Eliot Cohen confuses farce with tragedy; and thing of it is, he knows he’s wrong.

To be clear, these are very different people. Macbeth is an utterly absorbing, troubling, tragic, and compelling figure. Unlike America’s germaphobic president, who copped five draft deferments and has yet to visit the thousands of American soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq, he is physically brave. In fact, the first thing we hear about him is that in the heat of battle with a rebel against King Duncan (whom he later murders) Macbeth “unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops.” He is apparently faithful to his wife, has a conscience (that he overcomes), knows guilt and remorse, and has self-knowledge. He also has a pretty good command of the English language. In all these respects he is as unlike Trump as one can be.

Uh, yeah; and that’s why the play du jour ain’t Macbeth, you silly, but Alfred Jarry’s incomparable travesty of Macbeth, Ubu the King!

King Ubu is a stupid babbling conscienceless coward, a walking abomination of vulgarity, appetite, grandiosity, and paranoia.

The real script is nihilism, mes petites; nothing tragic – or even particularly meaningful – about it. The real script is not with a bang but a whimper.

July 20th, 2018
‘the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labours abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones’

Robin Williams’ first editions are available at Sotheby’s.

August 1st, 2017
Patti Smith on Sam Shepard

In the winter of 2012, we met up in Dublin, where he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Trinity College. He was often embarrassed by accolades but embraced this one, coming from the same institution where Samuel Beckett walked and studied. He loved Beckett, and had a few pieces of writing, in Beckett’s own hand, framed in the kitchen, along with pictures of his kids. That day, we saw the typewriter of John Millington Synge and James Joyce’s spectacles, and, in the night, we joined musicians at Sam’s favorite local pub, the Cobblestone, on the other side of the river. As we playfully staggered across the bridge, he recited reams of Beckett off the top of his head.

August 8th, 2016
Père Trubu: Act Two

Enter Père Trubu, shredding a copy of the New York Times:

FIFTY FAILED ELITES! That’s all they are! By my green candle, Madam, I’ll chop every one of them up into tiny bits and flush them down this gold-plated crapper!

Mère Trubu:

OOOOhhh but ooh Père Trubu also that nasty Senator Collins called you a nasty little merrrdddrrrrre plus she’s not voting for you. What’re we gonna do, Père Trubu? Your campaign’s the one in the crapper! How’re you going to be PRESIDENT and eat all the Boston Cream Pie you want and sit around and tell everybody what to do? Come on Pa Trubu: BE A MAN.


Pschittabugger and buggerapschitt Ma Trubu another word out of you my lady and I’ll shove your stinking face in the crapper! [Rushes into the bathroom; returns brandishing an unmentionable brush.] DON’T MAKE ME USE THIS. [Chases Mère Trubu about the penthouse. She screams.]


You MORON. You COWARD. You must capture the Clinton woman and JAIL HER.


Fuck me Madam brilliant idea HOW do you propose that I do it?


You must sneak up behind her while she’s giving a speech and scream THUS EVER TO TYRANTS and give her a big fat rap on the head with your brush and drag her off.


You’re a genius my fine woman but wait what if it doesn’t work and I get caught and I get put in jail?


You MORON. You COWARD. No one will expect a presidential candidate to do something like that so you will have the advantage of surprise. For once in your life SHOW SOME GUTS.


Call me a coward again Ma Trubu and I’ll smash your teeth in! [Again runs after her with the brush. She screams. End of Act Two.]

June 21st, 2016
Tweets for English Professors

Tweet from Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson: “Polls drop. Trump dumps mgr. — S. Beckett: ‘There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.’”

However — UD has long argued that the urtext for the Trump phenom is Ubu.

June 11th, 2016
There’s a brief, delicious, absurdist drama – “The Regents Took No Action” – printed in …

The Olympian, via the AP. UD reproduces it in its entirety:

A Wisconsin regent questioned Friday whether it’s worth continuing athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the face of a massive deficit.

Regent Tim Higgins challenged UW-Milwaukee Athletic Director Amanda Braun after a presentation of a report on Panther sports that she gave to regents on the school’s campus. Higgins pointed out to her that the athletic department finished the year that ended on June 30, 2015, nearly $11 million in the red. According to the report, the deficit began building around 2000 due to the rising overall costs of Division 1 athletics.

UW-Milwaukee athletics are heavily subsidized by student fees; they made up more than two-thirds of the department’s revenue in fiscal year 2015 and are projected to make up a little less than two-thirds of revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

Higgins asked Braun how she can justify continuing sports at the school. Braun seemed taken aback by the question, initially responding that she believes student-athletes make a positive impact on the university.

At Regent Gerald Whitburn’s prodding, she added that her department faces no serious NCAA sanctions and the deficit is no longer growing. According to the report, the athletic department finished fiscal year 2015 with a net balance of $604,400 and should finish 2016 about $107,284 to the good.

She also said that the department has a plan to eliminate the deficit. According to the report, the plan calls for balancing the budget on an annual basis for multiple years.

The regents took no action and moved on to other agenda items.


With its fierce concision and unemotional address, this masterpiece of the postmodern surreal owes much to Beckett and Stoppard — as is obvious when you transpose it into Waiting for Godot.





[Taken aback.] Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell fades away I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per head since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per head approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold on sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull fading fading fading and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labors abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard



[The regents take no action and move on to other agenda items.]

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