Mme. Bookling ~'s Reviews > The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus
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Jun 07, 07


In this philosophical essay, Camus presents and defends his philosophical school of thought entitled the philosophy of the absurd.

The philosophy of the absurd asks about man's futile search for meaning in a world which it devoid of eternity. He presupposes the question: Does the realization of the absurdity of life mean suicide is the best option for mankind? Throughout the essay, he comes to say that suicide is not the best option--but revolt.

This is seriously such a fascinating review of existentialism and the meaninglessness of life. It leaves you with the thought (to do with as you will)-- "What counts is not the best living but the most living."

The last chapter deals with the actual myth--this is taken from wikipedia:

In the last chapter, Camus outlines the legend of Sisyphus who defied the gods and put Death in chains so that no human needed to die. When Death was eventually liberated and it came time for Sisyphus himself to die, he concocted a deceit which let him escape from the underworld. Finally captured, the gods decided on his punishment: for all eternity, he would have to push a rock up a mountain; on the top, the rock rolls down again and Sisyphus has to start over. Camus sees Sisyphus, who lives life to the fullest, hates death and is condemned to a meaningless task, as the absurd hero.

Camus presents Sisyphus's ceaseless and pointless toil as a metaphor for modern lives spent working at futile jobs in factories and offices. "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."

Camus is interested in Sisyphus' thoughts when marching down the mountain, to start anew. This is the tragic moment, when the hero becomes conscious of his wretched condition. He does not have hope, but "[t]here is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn." Acknowledging the truth will conquer it; Sisyphus, just like the absurd man, keeps pushing. Camus argues that Sisyphus is truly happy precisely because the futility of his task is beyond doubt: the certainty of Sisyphus' fate frees him to recognize the absurdity of his plight and to carry out his actions with contented acceptance, which Camus argues to be a form of true happiness. With a nod to the similarly cursed Greek hero Oedipus, Camus concludes that "all is well."

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