Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz,
May 29, 2004 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz known also as Witkacy, was an absurdist playwright, a painter, a philosopher, an aesthetician, a novelist, and generally a prolific artist since about the age of 8. He lived from 1885 to 1939, and often has just the right mix of sharp wit, deep insight, and self-reflective irony.
posted by mdn (7 comments total)
I came across him because of this production in brooklyn; if you're in NYC, it's on tonight & continuing through next weekend, and in my opinion is $12 (or even just $7.50) well spent. If you enjoy existentialist philosophy or surrealism (not nonsense, just fundamental strangeness), it is a lot of fun.

No, I'm not involved with it :).
posted by mdn at 12:55 PM on May 29, 2004

Appropriately, the "dist" in "absurdist" is a broken link. Did you mean to link the whole word with the first link, or were you going to put something else there, or was this on purpose?

In any case, thank you.
posted by wobh at 8:03 PM on May 29, 2004

Witkiewicz is known for his outrageously extravagant scenes influenced by all kinds of cults and philosophical speculations.

In "Tumor Brainiowicz," the overriding spirit is mathematics. The play was largely inspired by the life of German mathematician Georg Kantor, who proved infinity to be an actual value (as opposed to a more vague notion of the inestimable, or a philosophical notion of "nothing beyond") and died in a mental institution in 1918. With this play, Witkiewicz compares mathematical genius to the artistic kind. Brainiowicz' growing understanding of infinity is compared to a tumor which proliferates while the genius is subjected to a barrage of plots, subterfuges and attempts to steal "the power of math."

I want to see this play
posted by vacapinta at 8:20 PM on May 29, 2004

mdn, thank you so much for these links! I stumbled across Witkacy's work a couple of years ago (I've got Gerould's Selected Works of his), and I'm envious that you got to see a producution of one of his plays! He was really a fascinating (and somewhat tragic) character all around.
posted by scody at 10:01 PM on May 29, 2004

This is great. Something new to read. Just wish I could get to the play. Thanks mdn!
posted by arse_hat at 12:37 AM on May 30, 2004

wobh, I made a mistake on the html for "dist" - it still works for some browsers, but others are more touchy. The link was just another piece about the same production that's linked through "absur".

scody, I just ordered a "witkacy reader" typa thing, put together by gerould. I guess he teaches at CUNY, which may explain why there's a little resurgence of interest in the guy around here. Anyway, I'm really excited to get it and read more of his actual fiction - I was disappointed I couldn't find more of it online. Though I'm perfectly happy to invest in the book, I would have liked to have been able to share more of the feel of his dialogue, at least as translated by gerould. In the play I saw, it was often just perfect - sharp, clever, but also somehow almost offhandedly profound...
posted by mdn at 4:13 PM on May 31, 2004

I want to see this play

might be interested in this one, too :D
Infinities is an exciting new addition to the recent wave of plays that address "hard" science. Written by the Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow, directed by Luca Ronconi and developed in conjunction with Milan's Teatro Piccolo and the Sigma Tau Foundation, Infinities is remarkable in its seamless merging of form and content. It gives new meaning to the concept of "science plays" through its highly visual exploration of various mathematical and philosophical postulations about infinity.
posted by kliuless at 7:51 PM on June 2, 2004

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