Resistentialism

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Resistentialism is a jocular theory to describe "seemingly spiteful behavior manifested by inanimate objects",[1] where objects that cause problems (like lost keys or a runaway bouncy ball) are said to exhibit a high degree of malice toward humans. The theory posits a war being fought between humans and inanimate objects, and all the little annoyances that objects cause throughout the day are battles between the two. The term was coined by humorist Paul Jennings in a piece titled "Report on Resistentialism", published in The Spectator in 1948[2] and reprinted in The New York Times;[3] the word is a blend of the Latin res ("thing"), the French resister ("to resist"), and the existentialism school of philosophy.[4] The movement is a spoof of existentialism in general, and Jean-Paul Sartre in particular, Jennings naming the fictional inventor of Resistentialism as Pierre-Marie Ventre. The slogan of Resistentialism is "Les choses sont contre nous" ("Things are against us").

Similar concepts[edit]

M.R. James' horror short story "The Malice of Inanimate Objects", first published in 1933, prefigures Jennings' theories, but suggests a more sinister aspect to the phenomenon.[clarification needed]

Resistentialism is the basis for the poem "Nightmare Number Three" by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was dramatized by George Lefferts for the radio drama series X Minus One.

The concept appears in the Discworld novels of English author Terry Pratchett, where it is referred to as malignity or malignance; one practical example the author gives is the tendency of garden hoses, no matter how carefully one coils and stores them, to unloop themselves overnight and tie the bicycle to the lawnmower. It is associated with Pratchett's Auditors of Reality, and possibly also with Anoia, who he describes as a "goddess of things that stick in drawers."

Thomas Pynchon's novel V. features the character of Benny Profane, who is under the impression that he can only deal successfully with animate objects. Throughout the novel, the dividing line between animate and inanimate objects become blurred, such as the Bad Priest, who is mostly machine, a talking protective suit named SHROUD, and sewer-dwelling alligators who are aware that they were intended to be toy pets for children.

Farin Urlaub's single "Dusche" is a rock song in which the singer believes the contents of his house are planning to assassinate him.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Hellwig, Insomniac's Dictionary (Ivy Books, 1989)
  2. ^ Report on Resistentialism, The Spectator , 23 April 1948
  3. ^ Thingness of Things, The New York Times, 13 June 1948
  4. ^ A.Word.A.Day--resistentialism

Further reading[edit]

  • An expanded Report on Resistentialism, Paul Jennings, Town & Country magazine. Reprinted in Oddly Enough, 1950.
  • Developments in Resistentialism. In: Even Oddlier, Paul Jennings, 1952
  • Eckler, A. Ross (2012) "Logological Resistentialism," Word Ways: Vol. 23: Iss. 4, Article 15.
  • Borgmann, Dmitri A. (2012) "Order in a Resistentialist World," Word Ways: Vol. 21: Iss. 1, Article 12.

External links[edit]