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Man, Universe And Drama: An Essay By Omale Allen Abdul Jabbar

The world is too much with us

Getting and spending we lay waste our powers

Little we see in nature that is ours…

We have given our hearts away, a sordid in boom!


… both talking about the vain exaction that tasks our lives … And then Toni Kan, a poet of no mean class and  fellow traveling genie, finely encapsulates


What is life but death?

What is gain but loss?

What is laughter but sorrow?

That tasks our lives?


And also this by Karl Marx and Bob Dylan respectively:


“All Solid melt into the air”

“People don’t live or die – people float!”


            But Man will never stop in his quest. And thus will continue via science and technology with effects that depletes his ozonic depths and environs until he gets swallowed up and consumed. And also ensuring from the rat-raced survival of the fittest and scramble for the resources which will never be enough. The poem in the movie OMEN also suffices beautifully to analyze the ongoing.


When the Jews return to Zion, the ancient Roman Empire rises

… pitching Man against himself, until Man exist; no more!


The play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett also suffices splendidly to sum up this analysis of Man in his universe and incidentally, the theatrical performance of which Shakespeare has described:


Life is a stage

A tale told by an idiot

Full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing

There are entrances and exists

And in one life time, many an

Individual plays many parts


        In … Godot, two tramps converse between themselves in a wasteland, waiting fruitlessly, demonstrating beautifully, the finest portrayal of the notion of the “Hopelessness of Hope”. Waiting for someone who remained unidentified throughout the length and breath of the play, “Godot”, who may or may not exist. And with whom they seldom recollect having some kind of appointment. One of the fellows voiced out their collective frustrations which I dare say is a symbolic metaphorical comment regarding the travails of Man’s conscious and unconscious insatiable quest, and his existence in the Universe.


Nothing happens, nobody comes, and nobody goes,

It’s awful…


 The above is again, an elaborate play by Becket, a postulation that parodies the traditional modes of Western Cultures of drama. But most importantly, an inescapable participation of dramatic inquiry and investigation into the life of Man and his relationship with the Universe and vice versa.


         Finally, what then is drama? How does this concern Man? How do the three: Man, Universe and Drama, how do they interrelate? Fine, let us proceed.


Man is that being or that entity created into being ( as the holy books  tell us) by God Almighty and put in the earth; and then the larger earth, to till and toil and alas! Lie beneath! Because he grew curious, inquisitive and adventurous … he was Adam, who is also now you and I.


The Universe is the large empty void. All the open spaces of the spheres amounting to the numerous planets, galaxies and constellations, and one particular geo-planetary zone is Earth, in which Man finds a home and dominates.


Drama is an imitation of life and its chief element is action!


Man’s life and existence on earth is theatrical and thus dramatic. And in his blind search for a better day, he delightedly, albeit crazily navigates his way home. And the bulk of his travails, his anguish, his triumphs, his tribulations, his joy and pains and hope and mixed expectations of the new dawn which goes in, to finely define  the Colours of dust” he raises in the wake of his steps – the theatre of his absurd existence. And rites of passage: Drama.


In his study of the phenomenon of the world’s existence, Hegel observes that certain laws of motion are inherent in the movement of things. And this, which for the super star and mega artist Michael Jackson, is music. This, the forces he says, hear Michael:


It’s all music… “The music of the spheres”

It is this that governs the architecture

Of all human DNA

The sequence of Night and Day

The movement of the Moon and Stars

The ebb and flow Ocean tides

The migration and Emigration of birds…

The circles of growth and death.


This also seems to be the views of Coleridge and Wordsworth in their Romanticist discuss about the harmony of all created beings and the central oneness of life its Golden rule of “do onto others as you would have done by.” (see the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”).


Conclusively, Drama is the mirror of societal control and a huge instrument of social change. It is a tool for social investigation and essential control and socialization of Man and expression of societal norms as law, religion, politics, personal and inter-personal behaviours. It informs about the society in which it is set, the state of technology and social institutions and economic existence and conflicts, correcting via satire, ill practice where they abound or simply set and propagate good standards of behaviour for the populace. And so simply, Drama is life!

         In the plot of every work of Drama and their divergent ranging themes is Man and his life in the Universe. And the host of woes cum conflicts that plague his journey- his attempts at adaptation and his existence.


… yet, even a stone WANTS to be something! (See the movie: INDESCENT PROPOSAL). But despite all that has been conglomerated herein, nothing captures this feeling and atmosphere of the topic under treatment than these excellent excerpts from Ben Okri’s THE FAMISHED ROAD: Azaro and the spirit journeys into the spirit world and stumbles upon a strange Civilization building a road. Pg. 325 (last paragraph) to 332…

   A Man was once said to have stood out in a vast opened land, hands akimbo, looking very far into the void and screamed; “I exist!” And the Universe was said to have fired back.” And so what?”


Sigmund Freud, you know him, was equally reported as once saying, “In my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, the great question that I’ve been unable t answer is, what is it that a woman wants?”


Threading gingerly behind Freud several decades afterwards, I, a lesser scholar… an obscure bard celebrated only by a few friends, standing calmly at the door to this ante-chamber, begging admittance, plate in hand begging tomorrow. Waiting … with spoons of Hope, with knives of sorrow, with forks of joy… With nothing – just waiting, I dare today to ask the opposing question; what is it, that a man wants?”


Very quickly enough, you may make bold to provide your answers in tantrums, throwing them at me like pebbles from wanton boys: of course, a man wants wealth – untold riches. Vast acres of land. Vistas. A world   spreaded upon worlds. A palace grander than Kublai Khan’s, with virgin streams running beneath …” one of you, “a man wants happiness”. Perhaps another. “A man   wants some peace and quiet”, another.


“A man wants a gorgeous spouse to quench his masculine fire” yet another. “A man simply wants a domicile, an abode to lay his head, where water will never again be thirsty and bread loaf will never be stone! Items of clothing to cover his body. And then food, so he’ll not starve and die”, yet another. And so on.


Fine and square. I won’t argue with you. Thus accidentally – you’re all right and correct, which brings us to the point of my immediate concern. And that is the very fact, Man, in an unconscious and conscious attempt to better his lot and self- WANTS!


        It’s an old story, but the means are limited while the bulk of his wishes, desires and aspirations are boundless. Incidentally, Man has found himself struggling crazily like cackling faggots to outdo his own kind in a mad scramble for acquisition of these scare amenities.


      Now, let me postulate here, my first question, why put a hundred folks in a room and only fifteen loaves of bread as meal for the day? Perhaps your guess is as good as mine, but let us proceed.


     Judging from the events in that garden of rhapsodies, that abundant sybaritic called Eden, where every thing was said to have been wild and free. Where Man was said to have had his first home and began his journey- this poetic odyssey, or even going back further to that very moment in time – that inauspicious moment of primordial beginnings, when God almighty was said to have looked back at the world he had just created and smiling, decided it was good, it would seem like Man was simply fated to fail!


     Why that obnoxious Tree in the middle of the garden man? Why the creation of the serpent at all? Why not obliterate the devil’s arrogant catwalk at the famous moment of retributive pronouncements? Why? Why? Why? And course more whys? Well, the answer to this one is even perhaps, simpler – God works in mysterious ways … but let’s not concern ourselves with that right now and so again, let us proceed.


    I dare to say that certain forces there are that work against the will of Man. And even though, he rises above these sometimes to triumph, mostly Man aspires and meets with grief? And left only with that one single deceitful element in the Grecian Calabash:” Hope”, which in ITSELF is NOTHING!


    It is analogous to a man telling his terribly starving children he has sent for food, which will soon come. And for them to hang on – this he simply does to keep their dreams alive, there condition slightly bearable and again, their hope alive.


  It is that element that prevents a man from going upon a tree and hanging himself in the face of the direst of straits, the worst of adversities, tribulations, anguish and sorrow. Before the coming of tomorrow where his wishes may be granted then by the forces: providence, the moon, the stars or the rotational action of the earth around the sun – God!


    Man in he’s very existence is a being “supposedly” pre-destined and fated. And all his self efforts amount to naught! And thus, incidentally changes nothing in the blue prints of things. Contrary to an earlier traditional ethics, which they negate, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, two existentialists scholars postulates:


Man is an isolated being cast in an alien

Universe to conceive of same as possessing

No inherent human truth, value or measure

And to represent man’s life, as it moves from

The nothingness where it came, towards the

Nothingness where it must end. As an

Existence which is both anguish and absurd.


In a universe that is suddenly deprived

Of illusions and light, Man feels a stranger.

He is an irredeemable exile… this divorce

Between Man and his life, the actor and

His setting, truly constitutes the feeling of



And then that by another absurdist scholar of Man and the Universe, and also his actions – Drama.

Albert Cumus in his myth of Sisyphus:   


Cut off from his religious, metaphysical and

Transcendental roots, Man is lost; all his actions

Becomes senseless, absurd, and useless


And into this crazy and utterly bizarre atmosphere, Fred Loman, the protagonists of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman advices his son.


Gotta break your neck to see a star

A Man’s not a bird that comes and goes

With the springtime – you gotta grab a hold

On something.


Thus Man may still try, for all said and done, he still possess a will of his own. And permit me to loosely put it this way – and when the forces are sleeping, he may forcibly take or perhaps he even earns his keep by sheer and exceptional hard work! 

The entire life of Man therefore is laced and characterized with his unending quest to better himself. From the extinction of the Dinosaurs to the Darwinism of Darwin: Atlas, that Greek god that lent his name to our maps is still holding the world – Man has remained the same. He has sought to become “something” more that he had found himself and this has given room to the mad advancement in technological developments leading to the creation of the atomic bomb with a judicious help from Planck’s quantum physics in 1900 that annihilated and decimated more lives even in a fashion more efficient than the flood of God himself!


Yes, across the bounds of time and space, there have been changes. Today former president Clinton of the U.S. of A. is greater than Solomon. And Bill Gates is richer than the Sultan of Brunei, with his explosive revolution in Computer technology forcibly dragging us to a place where even the eagles will fear to dare. A world where life as we have always known it may never be the same again: we may never need to visit each others houses anymore. We may never need to go out anywhere on the streets or travel anywhere. We may never need to physically get married to spouses nor patronize the very dutiful and available night beauties, as they would be run out of business. (By Cyber Sex). And the much dreaded big and humongous, yet paradoxically frail disease with a little name, and the host of all its cousins, distant and near, will be finally gone and cease to plague mankind for good. Do I hear you say Amen? Then listen to this. Now nations could simply disappear with the touch of a button depending on the choice of colour being depressed. Now wars may never be fought with guns and mortars but Chemicals that decimates and annihilates by the millions. If this is scary, then again here is some lighter news: (And that’s again, if you think them so) Tooth pastes may taste live chocolates. Cars may now properly assume the shapes of animals as opposed to just bearing their names. And so, we may ride around in Dolphins, Lions, Jaguars, and Cheetahs name it!


           This may be the world of the future. All these, still an attempt by Man to better his lot and society, but as a child of that the inauspicious marriage between Adam and Eve, Isaac Newton once said “To every action there is an equal opposite reaction”. And another intelligent child of that marriage, William Wordsworth puts it thus – this one, a colleague of mine, no doubt world renown, but still, a colleague at that!

Omale Allen Abdul-Jabbar
Omale Allen Abdul-Jabbar
Omale Allen Abdul-Jabbar is a Masters degree holder in Law & Diplomacy (pen name Mmaasa Masai). Ex-Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Plateau chapter, as well as Ex-PRO and Ex-Officio member of ANA at the National level. He has been awarded twice the Korea/Nigeria Poetry prize and the maiden winner of the PEN/Nigeria Saraba Poetry prize 2011. His maiden poetry collection ''Behold, Your Scented Daughters'' was published in 2012. He writes poetry, fiction, drama, and essays. His work has been published in Hints, Daily Times, Weekly Trust, Fifty Nigerian Poets, Punch, THESE! Magazine online, etc. He was a Finalist on in 2002 for the poem "Love affair" and subsequently published in the anthology "Letters from the soul", The Ker Review, Blackbiro online, ANA Review, amongst others. His work also appeared in the anthology CAMOUFLAGE. He is influenced by the works of Toni Kan Onwordi, Helon Habila, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ben Okri, Isabel Allende, Margaret Artwood, Pablo Neruda, Maik Nwosu, Toyin-Adewale-Gabriel and David Njoku. Omale lives in Abuja, Nigeria, with his wife and five children.

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