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Jessica Mintzes

Humanities: Existentialism
By: Jessica Mintzes
College Now Course - HUM 1

One of the topics we covered in College Now Humanities class was Existentialism. Existentialism is when man has freedom of choice, but has no rational criteria serving as a basis for choice. In other words, it is hard to make a rational decision when there is chaos.

Eugene Ionesco, in his play Rhinocerous, used existentialism, by portraying illogical conversations. The illogical conversation between the Logician and Old Gentlemen, is existentialistic because it shows that if you start out with false information, you can not end up with the right information. The constant interruption of the rhino's stampeding through the town is extremely chaotic. It leaves the characters unable to think properly, because their attention has been focused only on the presence of the rhino's.

The movie, "War of the Worlds," directed by Stephen Spielberg, also contains existentialist ideas. When aliens begin to attack the city, the focus for survival is centered mainly on the characters, Rachel, Ray Ferrier, and Ray's son. From beginning to end, chaos is a major factor and the three main characters fight to stay a live. In this movie, there are many illogical scenes.

One scene that ended illogically was when Ray talks with a reporter, about how the aliens entered their machines through the bolts of lightening. At the end of the conversation, instead of offering help to Ray by giving him a ride, the reporter only cared about getting a story. Even in a time of chaos, the reporter did not care about offering assistance, but instead, getting a story.

Marcel Duchamp, an artist in the early 1900s, was well known for painting in the DADA style. The DADA movement was about working against society, and not conforming to traditional life-styles. Duchamps' painting, "Nude Decending the Staircase," caused outrage among audiences, because they could not figure out the subject matter.

The movie, "War of the Worlds," also had scenes that followed the DADA movement. In the movie, the character, Ray, has one objective, which is to save his kids. Ray is willing to kill and fight in order to get his children and himself out of harms way. One scene that shows this, is where Ray begins to shoot off a gun, in order to get his children back. This scene portrays DADA, because in society, it is common for people to help and assist one another. However, in this time of chaos, the characters focus only on their survival.