Mountain beats rock, man beats both

There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.

Albert Camus would have been 100 years old last Thursday.

My favorite piece by Camus is Myth of Sisyphus (I recommend The Stranger too, regardless of whether you read it in high school). I think that Sisyphus is a beautiful work. In Sisyphus Camus uses a well known ancient myth to construct a nice snapshot of the ideas he was attempting to bring across, which was that of THE ABSURD.

Briefly, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to push a large rock up a mountain. When he and his rock reached the summit, the rock would roll back down. Sisyphus would walk back down the mountain to begin the task again, and again, forever.

Camus used the story of Sisyphus to illustrate the role he saw us playing in the universe. The search for some higher meaning is a waste, the position in which Sisyphus is placed is pointless. His only hope for fulfillment, is in his task. His rock, his thing.

The quote above is probably my favorite from Myth of Sisyphus, possibly from Camus. In it the author asserts that no matter what position we find ourselves in there is hope in the act of viewing our position with triumphant disdain. I have used this phrase many times to bolster myself. I can’t abide flowery motivation, but an acknowledgement that things suck and they suck to the extreme can somehow lift me now and again.

Camus ends Sisyphus by saying that we “must imagine” our hero happy. This phrase is important, Camus doesn’t say that Sisyphus IS happy, he says that we MUST IMAGINE him (and thus ourselves) happy.

I don’t know then if it’s at all possible for me to be truly happy in the middle of every situation. There are situations so terrifying that I don’t know if even the most disdainful among us could muster enough to overcome. I don’t know that there is no fate that can’t be surmounted by scorn and to be honest I’m not in a fired up hurry to find out.

I do appreciate that Camus probed the absurd and artfully represented what he learned. He peered into the abyss, told us what he saw with style, and offered some advice for dealing. Thank you Albert.


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