25 OCTOBER 1963, Page 11

The World of the Absurd The other day I was

talking with a friend about what existentialists mean when they speak of experiencing the absurd. I was not then able to produce a convincing comparison from life, but I think I now see a resemblance between the experience and the curious light-headed feeling one has when going out for the first time after an illness. The houses along the street, the trees, the passers-by have the air of being paste-board ready to collapse at a touch. One realises to the full the arbitrary element in every htiman face. How odd that ears should be just like that! What a grotesque organ the nose is! The human land- scape is replaced by a science-fiction set in which everything is felt as bizarre, as a decor with dis- quieting depths behind it. To feel this is, I imagine, to feel' the absurdity beneath the sur- face of ordinary life, a sensation whose most immediate effect is to render that surface strictly meaningless. I suppose that this must be a com- mon enough type of vision, but not one neces- sarily connected with modern philosophy by those undergoing it.