Urmuz was a great revelation to our generation, and it is reassuring to note that he was that to all generations, indeed: a providential personality, a Christopher Columbus reborn, the founder of a different America, of game and freedom; a native, solitary genius, perhaps a mutant, not feeling at all that he had to become an apprentice at the validated school of humor, he did not have any actual forerunners, and, in spite of his subsequent imitators, he did not have any followers. A spontaneous generation. He had no hunch of his genius and did not respect his gift, the divine gift bestowed upon him, otherwise we could believe that his life would have taken another trajectory. A mysterious personality, a smoking star, can anyone swear that Urmuz was real, rather than a fiction character? The review of this extraordinary school of joy that flourished in Romania in 1920-1940 could provide such a theme for melancholic meditation! It enriched both our national culture and the European one. But according to the old, inept customs of the land, it was ignored – not even the minimal attention it deserved was paid to it, if there could be no question of love. It was pushed toward the outskirts of the cultural stage, crowded in the wings, or, at best, viewed as something weird, a 'passe-temps,' a salon game, or possibly a bistro one. Even if some of the protagonists contributed to avant-garde magazines, it is preferable to deal with the two schools separately: the elements that differentiate the universe of the absurd comic from that of the actual avant-garde are much more profound and more defining than possible synchronisms or consonances. Anyway, André Breton, the 'Papa' of Surrealism, steered clear of claiming the great black-humor creators – this felicitous phrase belongs to him – and did not include them in the genealogy of his school. The modern character of that school was not acknowledged, its achievement was denigrated or hidden, the virtue it comes from was not recognized, and its energizing vocation to rejoice, its need to transform the unbearable absurd of existence into its opposite, celebrating eternity, were not comprehended. I suppose we can all join Freud's amazed cry: 'Humor seems to say: Look, this is the world that frightened you so much! A child's play! The best thing is to make jokes.'


by Iordan Chimet