Tag Archives: absurd

RIP Joe Frank (1938 – 2018)

This happened two years ago but I only found out today.

Also, I had never heard of Joe Frank.

Today, I googled for Ken Nordine and ASMR (one of my guilty pleasures) and I found Joe Frank.

I listened and liked immediately and immensely. Frank is an absolute genius.

Up there in absurdity with the likes of Roland Topor.

Joe Frank was a French-born American writer radio performer known for his philosophical, humorous, surrealist, and absurd monologues and radio dramas, says Wikipedia.

Typical radio dramas include “Bad Karma” (2000) and “That Night” (1994).

“Bad Karma” (2000)

“Bad Karma” opens with:

“I’m sitting at a dinner party attended by Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Seated at another smaller table are Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milošević, Pinochet and some others I don’t recognize. And then there’s a third table, sort of a children’s table, it has shorter legs and smaller children’s chairs. And sitting there are Richard Speck, Gary Gilmore, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.”

“That Night”

Synopsis from “That Night”:

“Joe’s uncle drowns while fishing a week after retiring, urban animal criminals, voyeur complains about a nude woman, sex with nuns in a limo, an elderly marching band and homecoming parade has been lost for 40 years and is being chased by homecoming queen’s fiance, creating life-size maps, to Jesus: why is there so much suffering, we’re on the edge of chaos, it’s great to feel a part of nature monologue with traffic background, monologue on sleep (repeated in other programs).” [3]

“That Night” also mentions maps on a 1:1 scale, just as Borges did in his one-paragraph story “On Exactitude in Science”.

The red splodge representing the reign of Ivan the Terrible

The red splodge representing the reign of Ivan the Terrible in Gustave Doré’s ‘The History of Holy Russia’

Via via I discover Gustave Doré‘s The Rare and Extraordinary History of Holy Russia (1854), an illustrated book with 500 drawings executed by Doré when he was just 21.

Doré was a genius, perhaps only equaled by Grandville (thirty year’s Doré’s senior).

The History of Holy Russia features a number of experimental and metatextual elements which are as surprising as the black page in Tristram Shandy.

The red splodge above represents the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

The caption reads:

“Suite du règne d’Ivan le Terrible. Devant tant de crimes, clignons l’oeil pour n’en rien y voir que l’aspect général.”

English translation:

“Continuation of the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Faced with such crimes, let’s blink our eyes to not see anything than the broad picture.” (tr. J.W. Geerinck)