In Search of the Miraculous: Bas Jan Ader on the absurd and the longing for transcendence



In Search of the Miraculous: Bas Jan Ader on the Absurd and the Longing for Trascendence is an investigation on the correlation of ideas between the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader’s works and the Algerian thinker and writer Albert Camus, who Ader was enormously influenced by. In particular, I have looked into the parallelisms between the artist’s artworks and one of the texts Camus is the most known for: The Myth of Sisyphus (Camus, 2013); which Bas Jan Ader was deeply interested in. In this dissertation I hope to enquire the depth of the influence of Camus’ ideas on the artist's investigations on the uncertainty of Calvinist salvation and to look at how Bas Jan Ader developed forward from Camus' ideas. I also hope to enquire to what extent Bas Jan Ader broke away from his thinking in his last work, In Search of the Miraculous (1975).  This work, which, as with his other works, also takes the form of a test against such uncertainty, proclaims a search for the trascendental or miraculous, a form of leap of faith that contradicts and exits Camus' line of thinking with a gesture of hope. Very little has been written up to date about Bas Jan Ader, and even if his correlation with Albert Camus has been investigated superficially in pre-existing literature, the depth of his influence on his work has not been extensively scrutinized up to now. For the purpose of this investigation, I will analyze four of the most essential works of Bas Jan Ader: Nightfall (1971), Broken Fall (Organic) (1971), I’m Too Sad to Tell You (1971) and his last work, In Search of the Miraculous (1975).