Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros: Defiance vs. Conformism / Eugene Ionesco'nun Rhinoceros Adli Eseri: Muhalefet Konformizme Karsi

By Haney, William S., II | Interactions, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros: Defiance vs. Conformism / Eugene Ionesco'nun Rhinoceros Adli Eseri: Muhalefet Konformizme Karsi


Haney, William S., II, Interactions


Abstract: In Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Berenger alone manages to resist rhinoceritis by not conforming to the urge to give up his humanity and become a rhino like each the other characters. Only Berenger has the self-sufficiency to avoid the over-indulgence, gluttony and intemperance that impels the other characters to transmogrify into beasts. Although the play shows the absurdity of defiance as much as the absurdity of conformism, Berenger has the strength of character to remain an individualist by not joining the happy throng of less sensitive people. Through Berenger's taste of the void of conceptions beyond cultural constructs seen in his selfless support of the best interest of others, the audience also glimpses a state of unity beyond duality. The real freedom of a unified, transpersonal self approached by Berenger and the spectators, derives from a sense of the connection between the local field of matter and action and an underlying nonlocal field of consciousness.

Keywords: Pure consciousness (turiya), transpersonal self, aesthetic rapture (rasa), level of language (pashyanti, para), knowledge-by-identity, metamorphosis

Ozet

Eugene Ionesco'nun Rhinoceros adli eserinde, yalnizca Berenger zorla insanligindan vazgecirilmeyi ve diger butun karakterler gibi gergedan olmayi kabul etmeyip gergedanlara direnmeyi basarir. Diger karakterlerin canavarlara donusmesine sebep olan asiri bagimlilik, acgozluluk ve olcusuzlukten kacinabilecek oz yeterlilige sadece Berenger sahiptir. Oyunda muhalefetin absurdlugu kadar konformizmin absurdulugunun de ortaya konulmasina ragmen, Berenger daha az duyarli insanlarin mutlu kalabaligina katilmayarak bireyci karakterini koruyabilecek guce sahiptir. Digerlerinin menfaatleri icin verdigi bencil olmayan mucadelesinde goruldugu gibi, Berenger kulturel yapilandirmalarin otesindeki kavramlari hukumsuz kilar ve bu yolla izleyici, ikililigin otesinde bir birlik durumu oldugunu fark eder. Berenger ve izleyicilerin birlesmis ve benotesi benligin gercek ozgurlugune kavusmalari, madde ve eylemin sinirli alani ve bunun altinda yatan bilincin sinirsiz alani arasindaki bag hissinden dogar.

Anahtar Sozcukler: saf bilinc (turiya), benotesi benlik, estetik cosku (rasa), dil duzeyi (pashyanti, para), kimlik ile edinilen bilgi, metamorfoz

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Consumerism and the Anticipations of Joy

Critics have pointed out that Rhinoceros dramatizes Ionesco's aversion for the Fascist movement in Rumania when he left in 1938 (Esslin 181). From a twenty-first century perspective, however, the play not only demonstrates how public opinion can pressure an individual into conformism, it also suggests how present-day consumer society can transmogrify an individual into a monster with an insatiable appetite. The play sets up a contrast between the necessity to consume in order to sustain biological existence within a certain standard of social decency, and the extravagant desire to consume as a means of wish fulfillment. In this contrast between self-sufficiency and over-indulgence through gluttony and intemperance, the play impels the audience to experience a gap between the basic needs of human existence on the one hand and on the other the desire to gratify the appetites in a bestial, uninhibited manner as symbolized by the rhinoceros.

In terms of conformity to public opinion, as in the case of Fascism, Ionesco says of Rhinoceros,

   As usual, I went back to my personal obsessions. I remembered that
   in the course of my life I have been very much struck by what one
   might call the current of opinion, by its rapid evolution, its
   power of contagion, which is that of a real epidemic. People allow
   themselves suddenly to be invaded by a new religion, a doctrine, a
   fanaticism. ... At such moments we witness a veritable mental
   mutation. I don't know if you have noticed it, but when people no
   longer share your opinions, when you can no longer make yourself
   understood by them, one has the impression of being confronted with
   monsters-rhinos, for example. … 

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