The absurd is diverged from the “collision between the seriousness… and the perpetual possibility of regarding everything about which we are serious as arbitrary.” (Nagel, 718) There are two forms of the absurd: an absurd situation, when something diverges from the parameters of reality, and the absurd, a sense of all that we treat with seriousness as being arbitrary. The possibility that life is meaningless and all we do to minimize our suffering and prolong our survival do not merit on a “geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one.” (Nagel, 716)
Nagel outlines three responses to an absurd situation: modify ones aspirations, remove themselves from the situation or “bring reality into better accord” with their aspirations. (Nagel, 718) The comedy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975, USA) is Brad and Janet’s inability and failure to achieve any of these, from Brads stoicism while the Transylvanians strip them of their clothing to Janet’s insistence that they leave.
There is an economy of sloth and energy and as supply inputs and action driven by impulse, without self-consciousness, or prudence, cost benefit analysis of choices. Brad and Janet’s utility, the manner in which they weigh consequences, errs more to the side of impulse the longer they are in the mansion. Effectively they become more like the mouse, as they frantically attempt to survive in this new world that does not adhere to their reality.
There could be a higher power on Transsexual or in Transylvania that justifies this absurd world, Frank N. Furter’s mansion, and why Brad and Janet have car troubles in the first place. This would absolve Brad and Janet of finding seriousness in the mundane, desire to marry, or deeming that which they regard as serious to be arbitrary, effectively removing doubt. The Narrator’s parting insinuate that the human race has been lost to meaning and we are left to wonder how Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott will return to the mundane world.
Thomas Nagel, “The Absurd,” The Journal of Philosophy 68:20 (1971), 716-727.