Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Albert Camus - The Myth of Sisyphus

I wrote this about half an hour at 12am when I was asked to do a Book Review for Bangor Universities Newspaper.

Stop, please just stop. Stop what you are doing and listen.

Put down your pen, your ipod, this newspaper infact and listen to me.
There is no hope for you, not at all. Rather on the contrary I am afraid, you are..thats right...YOU are going to die.
The world will stay silent, provide no objections to this and you will passed over unnoticed to the earth.

Right, now I have your attention. We shall begin.
if this is the case? then why do we not all commit suicide and have it done with? why play a part in this cruel joke of nature.
this is what Albert Camus discusses to great and passionate effect in 'The Myth Of Sisyphus'. If there is not a God to rub our aching shoulders then what is the point to this seemingly futile life?

Camus expounds this theory from a view called 'The Absurd' which (in far too short a way) is "the human desire for meaning and the unreasonable silence of the world". This situation is unreconcilable, there is nothing we can do to change that but Camus will argue that if we turn the religious belief that gives life a full meaning after death inwards and direct to ourselves then the extension of a Christian heaven becomes extension of life through life itself. Glorify your existence through experience, in that endless expanse that comes from recognizing a beautiful and fleeting world around you.

Camus talks wonderfully poetically of breaking the chain of daily repetition and gesture with use of a constant awareness of 'the absurd' and revolting against its situation with all your might through creation. The Absurd Man must drain all the beauty from experiences and then move on to the next, what matters is "not the best living, but the most living". You must never turn away from 'The Absurd' for then you will get sucked back into daily routine, and be lost amongst the rest.

The notion of revolt is a key theme to Camus, we must accept our situation not with a shying away, but with a fierce and complete reaction. We must create experiences from the pure flame of life and not be interested in the herd. "Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning" Camus says, we must gaze long into the abyss only to come back with it's madness glittering in our eyes and a sardonic laughter upon our lips.
Suicide to Camus is thus the extreme end of acceptance in the opposite direction and a road we should not consider
He imagines a point where Sisyphus, looking at his stone rolling uncontrollably back down the bottom of the hill is momentarily free as he recognizes that his eternity will be spend rolling the stone up the hill, only for it to roll back down. His awareness is his freedom.

Just as it is ours, but although (just as the mighty Sisyphus is) we are devoid of hope "the point is to live"

Albert Camus - The Myth Of Sisyphus can be summarised as a gloriously well written insight in the ephemeral but extraordinary beauty in our lives, and how we should take notice of this, not turn our backs, and run as fast as we can into the waves of forms and colours which surround us.