Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Fenceless

Student 24's picture

I'm an absurdist. I'm also a musician and my stage/performance name is The Fenceless. The photo I've chosen illustrates a phrase that inspired me to choose this stage name, which goes along with my personalised definition of absurdism, in which I believe anything is meaningless, so therefore anybody has every right to assign anything any function or meaning they choose. I took this photo while on a trip to Northern Kenya two years ago, and it is of a chicken perched comfortably on a fence made of sticks. It just happens to illustrate a phrase that I heard for the first time this past year during a debate in my literature class. One of the students couldn't pick a side in the debate, and he said he was “sitting right on the fence” about it. That stuck in my mind, and irked me because of its discomforting connotations about limitation in expression and choice-making. It didn't bother me in the context of the present discussion, but in issues in life in general, when people take opinions on “current issues” or make statements about “right” or “wrong.” I haven't fully thought out my philosophy about this to a point where I can eloquently present it, but it goes something along the lines of working towards the removal of the ability to separate opinions or stances, therefore eliminating the issue to which it pertains. I think that separation of parties is what contains and fosters the glaring dynamic for having a conflict in the first place. I don't like homogeneity. I like contrast, mix, and confusion. I don't like fences. I like open spaces which allow liberty and motion. My last name, Sloboda, comes from the Polish word swoboda, which means 'liberty.' My first names, Agatha Basia, mean 'virtuous' and 'barbaric,' respectively (Basia is the Polish nickname of Barbara). So my name itself contains contradictions and friction, but I like it. It contains more angles, more internal dynamic, more options to which I can relate. My names don't fit together in one place or another, but that gives me the liberty to fit anywhere I want, because as an absurdist I believe I can choose what meanings I want to associate with myself through my name. I don't have to be on one side of a fence or another, because I don't believe there needs to be a fence. In my lifetime, I've lived in about 15 different houses or apartments, 6 cities, and spent time in countless places around the world. I've learned to quickly adapt and find a home everywhere I live or visit, whether it's for two weeks or for four years. It's impossible for me to limit my identity to one city, one home, or one environment; but I don't have to. I don't have to distinguish between them all, because to me, there is no separation – no fence – between them. So it is precisely the contrast, mix, and confusion of them all that forms my identity and my style of thought.