Josh's Reviews > The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus
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's review
Nov 20, 2011

it was amazing

The "other essays" in the title I read, like, a year-and-a-half ago and didn't see how they were remarkable. The past three days, however, I've spent reading Sisyphus finally--this is my fourth attempt and the first time I got past page eleven. The first half is hard; I definitely have not grasped many of the specifics. The second half is devoted to illustrating what the absurd is/could be in personality types and through certain authors' works. (The philosophers and authors referenced, of course, I have not read yet.) Those first eleven pages are profound. Camus proposes that life has no inherent meaning, that we spend its duration denying that knowledge, and then asks why we see meaninglessness as a bad thing. He's right. Where did that correlation originate? Camus asks if suicide is justified if we (the post-Nietzche we, I'm assuming, who know God to be "dead," a myth) see that life is meaningless. He doesn't seem to think so. He identifies the "absurd" state--where we know everything we do is futile because there is no eternity, no reward or punishment, no symbolic home to return to--and terms it as such because part of its inherent nature is that we are in perpetual revolt against this knowledge; it cannot be accepted. (He even differentiates "hopelessness" and "despair," pointing out how divergent and unrelated they actually are.) So suffering, like Jesus did, is pointless. I don't think Camus is saying anything as simple as "live for the present," but I don't think he's refuting that either. He says we should see Sisyphus as happy when he descends to retrieve the rock. I, unable to reconcile the absurd, truly cannot grasp why he would be. The moments of clarity I felt, particularly in those eleven pages, are as profound as thought can be. It's a proposition so untenable and yet irrefutable, within Camus's terms, that I can't actually hold on to it firmly enough to articulate it. I'm just having repeated moments of totally ephemeral insight. Impossible insight... What the fuck can anyone say about Camus?

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