12 Pages

Human Despair and Comic Transcendence

ByMelvin A. Kimble

In many quarters, despair is the global and personal mood of the times. A vintage New Yorker cartoon graphically depicts this: Two gurus on a mountain-side. One says to the other, “I’ve come here to ponder the futility of it all, but I can see that it is useless!” The reasons for this gloomy mood need not be exhaustively catalogued. They include a world where terrorist activity has become commonplace and tensions of religious and ethnic violence have erupted into large scale warfare which could culminate in a bio-chemical and even nuclear disaster, a world where homelessness and starvation co-exist with indecent affluence. In other words, a world which might be aptly described in one of Christopher Fry’s plays as “a world festering with damnation” (1949, 3).