— William S. Burroughs
— Emil Cioran
— Maurice Blanchot, The Madness of the Day
— Maurice Blanchot
— Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature
— "The Suffering Savior," from The Buddhist Tradition
— C. G. Jung, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”
Ancient Chinese philosophy definitely has some elements of the absurd.
"Master Lai came down with an illness. Gasping for breath, he was on the point of death. His wife and children surrounded him crying. Master Li went to ask how he was and said, "Hey! Get out! Don’t be alarmed at the transformation." He leaned on the doorframe and said, "How wonderful these transformations are! What will it do with you and where will it send you next? Will it make you into a rat’s liver? Perhap a bug’s arm?"-Zhuangzi
Carpenter Stone went to Qi, and on reaching Quyuan saw an oak tree planted at the earth god’s shrine. It was big enough to shelter thousands of cattle under its shade, and measured a hundred arm-spans around. It towered over the mountains, and its branches began at a height of seventy feet. There were over ten limbs that could be made into boats. Visitors thronged as if it were a marketplace, but Carpenter Stone didn’t give it a glance and went on without pausing.
His apprentice gazed at the tree in satisfaction, then caught up with Carpenter Stone and asked, ‘Master, since I took up the axe and followed you I’ve never seen timber as beautiful as this, but you didn’t even look at it and went on without pausing. Why?’
“Enough! Don’t talk about it. It’s a useless tree: If you made boats out of it they’d sink, if you made coffins out of it they’d rot, if you made vessels out of it they’d quickly fall apart, if you made doors out of it they’d ooze sap, and if you made pillars out of it they’d be consumed by insects. It’s not a timber tree. There’s nothing it can be used for, and that’s how it’s gotten to live this long.”
Carpenter Stone returned home, and in a dream the tree from the shrine appeared and said to him, ‘On what basis are you judging me? Are you comparing me with timber trees? The sour apple, pear, tangerine, and pomelo belong to the class of fruits and melons. When their fruit is ripe it’s plucked, and when it’s plucked they get damaged. Their big branches are snapped and their small branches are broken. Their lives are embittered by their use, and so they don’t live out the years allotted by heaven but die in their prime, broken by ordinary people. This is true of everything. Now I’ve been trying to become useless for a long time, and I’ve got it now as I approach death. This is of great use to me. Suppose I was useful: would I have gotten to be this big?Moreover, you and I are both things: where do you get off assessing things? You useless man about to die, how would you know what’s a useless tree?’"
— Zhuanzgi, “The Human World”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book IV s.276
— Socrates, in Plato’s Gorgias, 493 a
— Callicles, from Plato’s Gorgias, 484 c
— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and his Shadow, s. 323, R.J. Hollingdale transl.
— Friedrich Nietzsche