Thursday, June 08, 2006

the myth of silly puss

*"Life is meaningless!" said the Existentialists.

"Great!" said the people who were paying attention. "Does that mean we should give it up?"

"Not at all!" replied Albert Camus, "Read my little treatise. It'll explain everything!"

* editor's note: this is not a transcript of an actual conversation.

According to some random jerk I went out with a few times, Camus' essay The Myth of Sisyphus explains why you shouldn't kill yourself even though life is meaningless. About six years ago, I actually needed to understand this.

I didn't want to kill myself. Let me repeat for emphasis: I absolutely, positively did not want to kill myself. But I was completely miserable and convinced that I was going to stay completely miserable for the rest of my life. I did not want to die but I was perplexed about why I didn't. And I hoped that ole' Albert might be able to shed light on that and possibly even provide me with a tiny morsel of hope.

So I picked up his book at Book People.

Here's some of what he has to say on the subject:

The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

???

Wha?

The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less surd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.

No, I heard what you said. I just don't get it.

The workman of today works ...

OK, shut up already.

I couldn't get through it. It was completely incomprehensible.

And yet, not long after trying to read it, the cloud of misery lifted briefly. It resettled but in a less dense form. As the years passed, it shrunk down and then blew away.

Sometimes I think that just looking for relief was the solution to my misery.

But I also think that maybe the Existentialists are right and that Life is meaningless.

Whenever that idea comes up, people inevitably ask "If that's the case, why do anything? Why get a job? Why get out of bed in the morning?"

Shit, man I don't know. Ask Albert.

The workman ...

OK, nevermind.

Because ... because ... because ...

Well, life might be meaningless but it shore is faskinatin'. Stand back for a minute and take a look.

1 Comments:

Blogger Guerreiro said...

I'm only starting to read the guy now, he sure makes a lot more sense than his friend Satre. Its also easy to understand why they got mad at each other in the end.

What is dificult to understand is why a country with such beautyful women good wine and tasty cheese generates such depressed philosophers...

3:15 PM

 

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