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The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays PDF, ePub eBook One of the most influential works of this century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan, and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living or not living in an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming One of the most influential works of this century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan, and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living or not living in an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming the value of personal existence, and the possibility of life lived with dignity and authenticity.

30 review for The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    Camus, as a writer, receives mixed response from the readers. It is understandable when some readers avoid reading him, because he seems a difficult writer whose works are taken to be disturbing. Some readers appreciate his writings though they do not agree with him. While for some, Camus’ ideas are irrelevant when compared with those proposed by existential philosophers. Although Camus is often categorized as an existential philosopher but he himself never approved of that. In one of his interv Camus, as a writer, receives mixed response from the readers. It is understandable when some readers avoid reading him, because he seems a difficult writer whose works are taken to be disturbing. Some readers appreciate his writings though they do not agree with him. While for some, Camus’ ideas are irrelevant when compared with those proposed by existential philosophers. Although Camus is often categorized as an existential philosopher but he himself never approved of that. In one of his interviews he said: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked. We have even thought of publishing a short statement in which the undersigned declare that they have nothing in common with each other and refuse to be held responsible for the debts they might respectively incur. It's a joke actually. Sartre and I published our books without exception before we had ever met. When we did get to know each other, it was to realise how much we differed. Sartre is an existentialist, and the only book of ideas that I have published, The Myth of Sisyphus, was directed against the so-called existentialist philosophers.”* When compared with different periods of his life, his writings offer an insight into the state of mind Camus was often fraught with. The penning of “The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus”, which he did almost simultaneously, came at a point when he himself faced despair about the kind of life he was living, which included his anxiety about his future as a writer and finding his place in the World. At this time he was in Algiers, his native land, far from the hubbub of Paris. His more mature works i.e. “The Rebel and The Plague” came later on where Rebel dealt with the problem of “murder” as against the problem of “suicide” which he dealt in The Myth of Sisyphus. We can notice the change in the focus of the writer, which turned from inner to outer, from individual to social. As he progressed from Sisyphus to the Rebel, he matured as a writer and later on himself felt annoyed at his proposed idea of absurd. He said: “This word “Absurd” has had an unhappy history and I confess that now it rather annoys me. When I analyzed the feeling of the Absurd in The Myth of Sisyphus, I was looking for a method and not a doctrine. I was practicing methodical doubt. I was trying to make a “tabula rasa,” on the basis of which it would then be possible to construct something. If we assume that nothing has any meaning, then we must conclude that the world is absurd. But does nothing have any meaning? I have never believed we could remain at this point.”** Now this is what keeps me in awe of the writer. He is one writer, who has never been afraid of opening his heart, his thoughts, anything which plagues his mind, before his readers, before this world. In that sense, he may be termed as a radical and approached with skepticism, but it cannot be ignored that the ideas he proposed came to influence the generation of writers engaged in the “works of absurd” e.g. Samuel Beckett who contributed significantly to the “theatre of Absurd”. The idea of repetition which he proposed with Sisyphus, which in turn was inspired by Kierkegaard’s Repitition, is witnessed significantly in the works of Beckett too. What is more, his ideas also, even now influence the readers like me in whose face the “why” of existence suddenly strikes one fine day. It wouldn’t be an overstatement or some form of fervent adherence to the writer if I admit that he inspired the mind to seek more and not be satisfied till the response unites the thought and the experience. He is not an easy writer to read, agreed, but his writings are not disturbing, specially if one gets to understand that his writing,in The Myth of Sisyphus, is a declaration of writer’s notion that the life must be lived fully in awareness of the absurdity of this World. In the Myth of Sisyphus, he terms the World as absurd because it doesn’t offer any answer to the question of existence, it being a silent spectator to the suffering of whole humanity. In a Universe, divested of meaning or illusions, a man feels a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. But does this situation dictate death? Camus ponders upon the problem of suicide and contemplates then whether suicide is the answer to this absurd world which doesn’t answer anything. He opines: In the face of such contradictions and obscurities must we conclude that there is no relationship between the opinion one has about life and the act one commits to leave it. Let us not exaggerate in this direction. In a man’s attachment to life there is something stronger than all the ills in the world. The body’s judgement is as good as the mind’s and the body shrinks from annihilation. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead. And to kill one self means to allow both life and death to have dominion over one. Hence, the absurd doesn’t dictate death but calls for the awareness and rejection of death. It calls for living it with consciousness ----with revolt, freedom and passion. Neither religion, nor Science for that matter, provides answer to a questioning mind satisfactorily. While the former tends to imbue it with an idea of eternity; an extension of life in heaven, the latter merely tries to explain it by hypothesis. But Camus cannot believe either of them. Then turning to existential philosophers, he says that they “without exception suggest escape”. “Through an odd reasoning, starting out from the absurd over the ruins of reason, in a closed universe limited to the human, they deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced hope is religious in all of them.” To further explain this, he presents to us the ideas proposed by different philosophers. For example he says: Of Jasper: Jasper writes: “Does not the failure reveal, beyond any possible explanation and interpretation, not the absence but the existence of transcendence?” So that Jasper proposes the existence which cannot be defined as “unthinkable unity of the general” and the “inability to understand” as the existence which illuminates everything. Of Chestov: Chestov names the fundamental absurdity by saying: “This is God: we must rely on him even if he does not correspond to any of our rational categories.” For Chestov, reason is useless but there is something beyond reason, even if that something is indifferent to us. Of Kierkegaard: Kierkegaard calls for the third sacrifice required by Ignatius Loyola, the one in which God most rejoices: The sacrifice of the intellect. He says, ‘In his failure, the believer finds his triumph.’ Kierkegaard substitutes his cry of revolt for frantic adherence. Camus doesn’t agree with these philosophers, who did, all of them, tried to understand the absurd but finally gave into that which they found impossible to define. He calls their giving up as Philosophical suicide. He cannot believe in Jasper’s idea of Transcendence. In response to Chestov, he says ‘To an absurd mind reason is useless and there is nothing beyond reason.’ He chooses ‘despair’ instead of Kierkegaard’s frantic adherence. He says “I want everything to be explained to me or nothing.” So now when faced with absurd and being in consciousness, how best to live the life? Camus advocates the life of a seducer (Don Juanism) actor, conqueror or creator following the three consequences of absurd i.e. revolt, passion and freedom. By revolt, Camus means to keep the absurd alive by challenging the world anew every second. By Freedom, he means losing oneself in that bottomless certainty , feeling henceforth sufficiently removed from one’s own life to increase it and take a broad view of it. By passion, he means being aware of one’s life, one’s revolt, one’s freedom, and to the maximum. Though he praises the absurd man in a seducer, actor or conqueror, it was his stance on creator which I felt more inclined towards. He says: “Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” Sisyphus Towards the end of this essay, he compares absurd with Sisyphus, who, according to the myth, was condemned to rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, only to see it rolling down back every time he reached the top. He says that though Sisyphus is well aware of his fate, of the continuous struggle he has to engage in, but he is still passionate about his life and doesn’t give up. It is during his descent, that Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained. Likewise, the absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences all the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is es-sential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling. The other essays in the collection, Summer in Algiers, The stop in Oran, Helen’s Exile and Return to Tipasa are worth reading too. In Return to Tipasa, we observe Camus prevailed over by nostalgia for home, for his land. It is here that he says: In the direction of the ruins, as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but pock-marked stones and wormwood, trees and perfect columns in the transparence of the crystalline air. It seemed as if the morning were stabilized, the sun stopped for an incalculable moment. In this light and this silence, years of wrath and night melted slowly away. I listened to an almost forgotten sound within myself as if my heart, long stopped, were calmly beginning to beat again. And awake now, I recognized one by one the imperceptible sounds of which the silence was made up: the figured bass of the birds, the sea’s faint, brief sighs at the foot of the rocks, the vibration of the trees, the blind singing of the columns, the rustling of the wormwood plants, the furtive lizards. I heard that; I also listened to the happy torrents rising within me. It seemed to me that I had at last come to harbor, for a moment at least, and that henceforth that moment would be endless. What I realized reading these essays over again was that despite of being labelled as the proponent of absurd, it is actually living that he so fervently speaks about; Not just living but living passionately and fully. Living in awareness and questioning. Though he seems to be recommending a negative faith (as James Wood says in introduction) against the religious or existentialist ideologies, he nevertheless demonstrates a distinctive way to the seekers to come to terms with the existence; the way to be chosen henceforth, of course, depending upon the individual, starting every day with an ever new light. “In the middle of winter, I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.” ------------------------------------------------------- *From an interview with Jeanine Delpech, in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, (1945). Cited in Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970) ** From an interview with Gabriel d'Aubarède, in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, (1951). Cited in Albert Camus: Lyrical and Critical Essays, Vintage (1970) Source : http://www.camus-society.com/albert-c...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    "The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." One must definitely imagine Sisiphus a teacher. Teaching 15-year-olds every day is pretty much like pushing that boulder up the hill. One knows one has to do it, as the future of humanity depends on proper education. It is hard work that requires concentration, and one can never look the other way or take a break. In the evening, one is exhausted, and quite happy to see that stupid boulder "The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." One must definitely imagine Sisiphus a teacher. Teaching 15-year-olds every day is pretty much like pushing that boulder up the hill. One knows one has to do it, as the future of humanity depends on proper education. It is hard work that requires concentration, and one can never look the other way or take a break. In the evening, one is exhausted, and quite happy to see that stupid boulder roll all the way to the deepest depths of Hades. But tomorrow is another day, and Sisiphus sets out to roll that boulder up the hill again. One must imagine Sisiphus happy. Imagination, that means, is the main tool of any teacher. I say, looking at today's boulder catching speed down the hill. See you tomorrow!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the question of whether it is better to have no hope at all, or to be constantly confronted with dashed hope. There are certainly parts of my life that I have structured so as to ensure that I have no hope at all – that is, that I live my life in such a way that it is impossible for certain things to ever happen, and those are things that otherwise I would desire intensely – and in large part that is because ‘dashed hope’ was proving far One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the question of whether it is better to have no hope at all, or to be constantly confronted with dashed hope. There are certainly parts of my life that I have structured so as to ensure that I have no hope at all – that is, that I live my life in such a way that it is impossible for certain things to ever happen, and those are things that otherwise I would desire intensely – and in large part that is because ‘dashed hope’ was proving far too much for me to really live with. Now, that is part of the reason why I thought I would read this book. The myth of Sisyphus is surely one of the better examples of having to live constantly with dashed hope, and so I was hoping (all very ironic, when you think about it) that this book might provide some answers or guidance. This series of essays basically ends with Camus telling the story of the myth – which I found a bit unexpected, as I might have thought he would have started here. But in fact, this myth is sort of the punch line to the series of ideas he is discussing mostly related to suicide. His main point is the assertion that life is fundamentally absurd. We generally don’t recognise this absurdity – life presents patterns and ways of being that we enact, rather than think about, and so one day follows another. It is only when we pause and think ‘what is the point?’ that the real absurdity of life becomes overwhelming. It is for this reason that Camus says that the only real question of philosophy is ‘why do I not commit suicide?’ – this does seem a rather predictable response to the ‘it is all meaningless anyway’ problem. I think of this argument as being somewhat an argument with religion and so a sort of ‘first generation atheist’ problem. In the sense that religious people often say stuff like – ‘if life is so meaningless, why don’t you just kill yourself then?’ To which, I presume, the answer is, ‘five more minutes of stupid bloody questions like that and I might welcome it’. As an atheist who has never felt or even felt the need for eternal life, that level of ‘confronted meaningless of life’ has never really bothered me. The absurdity that Camus speaks of is, as he more or less admits himself, an abstract conception outside of the actual living of life. While we are living life, such absurdity is basically impossible to acknowledge – so, the answer, it seems, is just to get back to living life and shut up. Anyway, you have a great big rock and your task is to push it to the top of the mountain. You never quite get it there. It always rolls back down to the bottom. And on the trip back down the mountain to start pushing the rock back up again, surely you must say to yourself – ‘god, no, not this shit again…’ Which is part of the reason why this is a ‘punishment’. Camus’s response is to say that Sisyphus has to approach his task with a happy heart, despite knowing it is pointless, absurd, meaningless. It is his only refuge from suicide. Right. But, I’m not sure how well that would keep me from committing suicide, this sort of ‘whistle while you work’ idea. We are not told what reward Sisyphus has been promised if he were to get the rock to the top of the mountain. Presumably, Camus has decided that this is immaterial as Sisyphus would soon realise that was never going to happen. For this reason I find the myth of Tantalus more immediately confronting of the issues I actually want to grapple with. It is completely obvious what Tantalus desires – he is hungry and thirsty – and all around him there is food and drink. But he is never able to satisfy his hunger or thirst. He is surrounded by what he desires, and knows he has no hope of ever satisfying them. This is what I mean about the choice between no hope and dashed hope. For Tantalus, desire is all – but he constantly must live with his desires going unfulfilled, with his hopes being dashed. I don’t know that this is a sustainable way to live one’s life – when it becomes clear to me that my desires will be constantly dashed, that is one of the hardest things I can think of. I’ve worked in jobs as meaningless as Sisyphus’s, boredom I can cope with. Dashed desire is quite another matter. And so, I believe Tantalus is likely to seek to blind himself to his desires. I am not sure how successfully one is able to do this – desire and hope find ways to sneak in while we are unguarded, they find ways to tempt us, despite our will and our reason, but we are soon punished yet again for these hopes and desires in much the same way Tantalus was. As I said, I had hoped Camus would have discussed these issues – the issues of dashed hope and how to actually live with them. For Camus, Sisyphus is the most proletarian of the myths – something noted previously by Marx and Engels in relation to the meaninglessness of work under capitalist alienation of labour. If Sisyphus is a myth illuminating the horrors of capitalist production – surely Tantalus is the myth that does so for capitalist consumption. We are drowning in desires that can never be satisfied, and are never meant to be satisfied. And yet, we seem to constantly choose thwarted desire over abandoned hope every time – despite our repeated experience, despite the pain of that experience. Perhaps it is because we simply could not live in Dante’s hell – where all hope is abandoned – and so any alternative is preferable? If you do decide to read this, I recommend you notice when Camus talks about rocks – given what Sisyphus got up to in his day job, this talk of rocks is always something worth considering and worrying over, always worth noticing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yuval

    Most of my friends will probably think I'm being sarcastic when I call this as good a "self-help" book as any I can imagine, but this essay honestly inspired in me an awe of human nature and its absurd indomitability. I think Camus gets a bad rap for being a cold, detached pessimist who only points out the meaninglessness of life again and again in his books. OK, he may indeed declare life "meaningless," but this book is passionately affirmative of life in the face of that void. Beginning as a r Most of my friends will probably think I'm being sarcastic when I call this as good a "self-help" book as any I can imagine, but this essay honestly inspired in me an awe of human nature and its absurd indomitability. I think Camus gets a bad rap for being a cold, detached pessimist who only points out the meaninglessness of life again and again in his books. OK, he may indeed declare life "meaningless," but this book is passionately affirmative of life in the face of that void. Beginning as a refutation of suicide, the essay encourages an embrace of the absurdity of life and the refutation of hope for a future life (or afterlife) as the only ways to live with any liberty or happiness. While I ultimately don't see eye to eye with all his thinking--and if you're at all religious, you should probably save your self the agitation of reading this--but viewing human nature and activity through his eyes in this book has been immensely rewarding.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. Only Albert Camus, I believe, could have made that statement. I’ve tried many times over the years to accept philosophical reasoning by reading various books by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Hus There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. Only Albert Camus, I believe, could have made that statement. I’ve tried many times over the years to accept philosophical reasoning by reading various books by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Plato, etc. and the only individual I could equate to was Roger Scruton with his “Philosophy, an Introduction and Survey” with his own specific logic and in particular his views on God. It’s certainly not light reading, rather dry in fact, and looking at this book now I’m even beginning to wonder what I truly felt when I read this twenty years ago. I’ve always had a very high regard for Albert Camus since I first encountered his works at university. He has an extremely rich and elegant writing style, and yet he seems to open up his heart to the reader and his reasoning is invigorating. In fact I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his works in the past, especially The Stranger. Nevertheless I found it very hard to come to terms with The Myth of Sisyphus. It was the meditation on suicide that rather unnerved me. I really do not believe philosophers, unless they have contemplated suicide themselves, should air their opinions. That’s my personal view of course. If an individual wishes to end his/her life, be it for whatever reason, they have the choice. I feel sorry, however, for those individuals with dreadful terminal diseases who wish to end their lives and are unable to do so because of legal constraints. Anyway, linking absurdism with suicide was all too much for my psyche and she went into full revolt. Camus is indeed very persuasive but what I don’t understand is that he is supposedly discussing Absurdism and yet the cover on the back states that this is a book on Existentialism. I also thought that he was an Absurdist? In fact recently I’ve read so many articles regarding the above paragraph that I believe the following seems to be the closest that comes to my own way of thinking: The Algerian-born French thinker Albert Camus was one of the leading thinkers of Absurdism. He was actually a writer and novelist with a strong philosophical bent. Absurdism is an off-shoot of Existentialism and shares many of its characteristics. Camus himself was labelled as an ‘Existentialist’ in his own life, but he rejected this title.. So I pass from this section of the book which also covers Don Juan (rather interesting) onto Absurd Creation with Philosophy and Fiction, and to parts that are quite beyond my comprehension. I’m still in revolt. Here is an example: All those lives maintained in the rarefied air of the absurd could not persevere without some profound and constant thought to infuse its strength into them. Right here, it can be only a strange feeling of fidelity. Conscious men have been sent to fulfill their task amid the most stupid of wars without considering themselves in contradiction. This is because it was essential to elude nothing. There is thus a metaphysical honour in enduring the world’s absurdity. Conquest or play-acting, multiple loves, absurd revolt are tributes that man pays to his dignity in a campaign in which he is defeated in advance. I’m sure that many individuals will have no problem with interpreting the above-mentioned paragraph but I certainly did. There’s an excellent section on Dostoevsky and in fact even he discusses logical suicide in his Diary of a Writer. The individual that I really felt sorry for was Sisyphus who ceaselessly rolled a rock to the top of a mountain and then the stone would fall back on its own weight. It certainly doesn’t do to be condemned by the Gods and that’s for sure. In the Appendix to this section, hope and the absurd are discussed in the life of Franz Kafka and actually one of the best parts in The Myth of Sisyphus. I could never really understand Kafka’s reasoning until I read two excellent biographies about him. The following essays are excellent: Summer in Algiers The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran Helen’s Exile And indeed my favourite, “Return to Tipasa”. One really gets a sense here why Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957. I found that this essay talked to me and also resonated with me. It was so touching as he describes his feelings upon returning to the place of his childhood, Tipasa, Algeria after an absence of twenty years. I absolutely loved this and there is also a sense of place. This is Camus philosophizing at the highest level, after having lived through a horrific second world war by making comparisons between the two periods. Plus the descriptions are exquisite. I wanted to go to Tipasa myself when I read: At noon on the half-sandy slopes covered with heliotropes like a foam left by the furious waves of the last few days as they withdrew, I watched the sea barely swelling at that hour with an exhausted motion, and I satisfied the two thirsts one cannot long neglect without drying up – I mean loving and admiring. For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamour in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shrivelling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. The final essay, The Artist and His Time, consists of questions and answers of Camus’ views as an artist. An example: Is not the quixotism that has been criticized in your recent works an idealistic and romantic definition of the artist’s role? , and this was answered in a rather splendid way. In conclusion, I have my own philosophical views on life, as we all do and only I can choose what direction my life is going to take, be it with a certain amount of serendipitous luck thrown in along the way. This was not an easy book to read but still it is excellent and succeeded in bringing happiness and optimism to me for the future. And yes, I mustn't forget Rakhi. Do read her review below as it is excellent: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elie F

    Sisyphus must be humanism in its fiercest form, but is it as heroic as in Camus' idolization? Because there is no assured eternality and reason knows its limit, man is forced into the corner of absurdity. There are three available options: 1) Turn away from the absurd and leap into spiritual irrationality; 2) Commit suicide and kill one's self-consciousness which is the very source of the break between one and the world; 3) Keep the absurd alive, live unreconciled, revolt consciously, and scorn t Sisyphus must be humanism in its fiercest form, but is it as heroic as in Camus' idolization? Because there is no assured eternality and reason knows its limit, man is forced into the corner of absurdity. There are three available options: 1) Turn away from the absurd and leap into spiritual irrationality; 2) Commit suicide and kill one's self-consciousness which is the very source of the break between one and the world; 3) Keep the absurd alive, live unreconciled, revolt consciously, and scorn triumphantly. There is no unity between the man and the world, but there is a unity between man and his own crushing fate. It is the consciousness of this unity that fills a man's heart and makes Sisyphus happy. My main objection to Camus' humanism is that it's all consciousness and no action. As Dostoevsky's underground man shows us, mere consciousness doesn't make a man heroic. Yes one must imagine Sisyphus happy but that's just an imagination and in reality a submission to futility. Awareness of the superiority of one's personal fate should not be the final step. To end with a quote from Achilles in The Iliad: "Xanthos, why do you prophesy my death? This is not for you. I myself know well it is destined for me to die here far from my beloved father and mother. But for all that I will not stop till the Trojans have had enough of my fighting."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simeon

    One of the greatest opening lines of all time: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer." - Albert Camus To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The s One of the greatest opening lines of all time: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer." - Albert Camus To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there's the respect That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover'd country from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. - Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons Be all my sins remember'd. - Shakespeare, Hamlet

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Okay, so the basic premise in this book is that there are two schools of thought involved with becoming conscious as a man. There is one in which you become conscious of God, accepting faith as the channel between this world and the next. Existence is a matter of order, one that is concrete and follows the compelling obligations towards the God whom you commit your faith. The other option is the absurd, for which this book is written. The problem asks is it possible not to commit suicide in a me Okay, so the basic premise in this book is that there are two schools of thought involved with becoming conscious as a man. There is one in which you become conscious of God, accepting faith as the channel between this world and the next. Existence is a matter of order, one that is concrete and follows the compelling obligations towards the God whom you commit your faith. The other option is the absurd, for which this book is written. The problem asks is it possible not to commit suicide in a meaningless world and without faith in God. The absurd man simply states, I and my plight are ephemeral, but I still choose life. Why? The comparison to Sisyphus is made through this absurd man. A man who is doomed by the gods to perpetually push a rock up a mountain which becomes steeper as it moves up. Eventually slope takes the better of the effort and as a matter of prescribed definition the rock falls down the hill; to which, the man, Sisyphus, must start again. The absurd man follows the archetype of the Sisyphus myth of which Camus says is “wanting to know,” and in wanting to know realizing that the whole of existence is a continuous repetition, nothing is gained nor loss; “the sin of which the absurd man can feel guilt and innocence.” This is not existentialism. It is presupposed in an existence without explanation that it is unreasonable to assume anything concrete. As Camus puts it, “the theme of the irrational, as it is conceived by the existentials, is reason becoming confused and escaping by negating itself.” He confines the absurd to, rather than negation, setting up a “lucid reasoning,” or playground for activity, and merely “noting limits” so that you are free to work within your living situation. It’s all about cheerful compliance. Realizing you’re in the situation and you’re damned to it. Fuck it. It’s not that I’m lost in this absent void of existence, with no telling of the future and no cause for impetus. I realize that there is a chance, be it strong or tiny, that there is a vastness far beyond the compelling straits of life that leave me wondering “what’s the difference?” If I do anything, I am compelled to the possibility of it not mattering. Camus was talking about a “lucid indifference” to this. Saying, I live it. It would be a crime to strip my life of the possibility of something. Even if I am a slave I can sing. I give up on morality, a legitimization of my actions that either says this, based on prescribed foundations “okays” it or disallows it. Really, the impetus is for responsibility. What I do in this life is directly reflected in this life. If I steal, then there is recourse. If I lie; but what if someone lies to me? I guess it’s the categorical imperative, but sans morality. Morality lines things within the sights of God, establishing guilt. What is guilt? It’s mindless, an obscenity. I feel guilt for not abiding to my addiction. Who can identify the real factions of guilt, who can identify its sincerity. It’s emotional. I’d rather be rational. I’d rather see that this whole circus, a great jibe of the floating, tender inevitability of death is but a contraption set for me to build and destroy and collect and decipher. Camus said, “for the absurd man it is not a matter of explaining and solving, but of experiencing and describing. Everything begins with lucid indifference.” I am in a state of despair. Anything that I do has no value. On the other hand, I am living and I am breathing and in a strange way I have a personal freedom unpronounced by most people who establish their own freedoms. All I have to do is have faith in my freedom and like a majesty that is lain out in silver robes before me, it is there. I only have to respect that I am living in a free slate, unmitigated by a stratified moral imperative that limits so many people from following intuition and there actual imperative needs. Do you believe in destiny? That we all have a purpose and it is designated by our need to imbibe the principles of our life into a system that we can identify for ourselves. There is that mode of philosophy that says that we are the people whom we are, we are meant to be these people, this specific type of person completely genuine to himself and totally as that self. My identity is the world surrounding me combusting into a single frame that I can represent justly by my merely living life as I should be doing it. I do not need to live up to this social strata of an impartial development towards nowhere, rather I should live life as I make fit, feeling good. Feeling established. So what if my endeavors are rooted to rolling a rock up a hill at least I have something to do, in the formation of my universe I need a place to put what is concrete, even if there is nothing concrete. As analogous creatures, if we do not have any basis to compare then we are no more capable of being thoughtful than a bar of soap. I’d rather be the dirt, simply abiding to my state of being, minus the will, minus the infirmity, I’d be an obstacle for the righteous, and standing in the way I could laugh at the adversity, laugh at the spectacle of my life so deranged in its absurdity. And at the last moment before my death, that is how I could acknowledge that I was alive. Or how I am still alive, whatever.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Lentz

    In “Sisyphus” Camus explores the great Greek myth to address Hamlet’s ultimate question as to whether one should be or not be. Camus scoffs at Kierkegaard who also addresses the plight of the Absurd Man, by which both thinkers understand the human condition today when faced with life in which it appears incomprehensible through pure reason. Camus darkly adds that life is ultimately futile because mankind is powerless and after all life is simply an endless series of hardships, which symbolically In “Sisyphus” Camus explores the great Greek myth to address Hamlet’s ultimate question as to whether one should be or not be. Camus scoffs at Kierkegaard who also addresses the plight of the Absurd Man, by which both thinkers understand the human condition today when faced with life in which it appears incomprehensible through pure reason. Camus darkly adds that life is ultimately futile because mankind is powerless and after all life is simply an endless series of hardships, which symbolically entail rolling a boulder up a mountainside only to watch it fall to the bottom whereupon the process must be repeated endlessly. Camus derides the Kierkegaardian “leap of faith” as committing a suicide of logic, reason and abandoning both to sacrifice the lucidity which only a person confronting the hopelessness of his human condition with reason can assume. Camus praises Nietzsche and in the writing style in many places Camus reads very much like Nietzsche. Camus also widely praises Kafka and his novels as projecting in "The Trial" and "The Castle" worthy epitomes of the hopeless condition of man against the absurdity of life. For Camus, reason takes one sooner or later to the abyss where one peers into the utter hopelessness of the human condition and catches a lucid glimpse of death, which challenges him to question the "everydayness of existence." For Camus this glimpse requires an intellectual honesty brought only by standing up to the Absurd and projecting the lucidity of reason into the abyss. In his mind Camus believes that Sisyphus finds a certain happiness in the futility of his condition, when the boulder rolls back down the mountain, for it is in these moments of climbing back down the mountainside that Sisyphus is able to consider that despite the futility of his existence “all is well.” He adds that Homer deemed Sisyphus to be the wisest of mortals and admires that Sisyphus was in a state of revolt against the gods and was unafraid of their power in his protest against them despite his rebellion landing him with an eternal task of futility at their bidding. In his view the everydayness of mankind in work robs us of the consciousness necessary to gain a lucid perspective of life. Camus has infinite faith in reason. This is where he and Kierkegaard divide their views of the human condition. Camus criticizes Kierkegaard for making a leap of faith into the god which consumes him. He sees Sisyphus as becoming as strong as the rock that he pushes up the mountainside and views himself as the Absurd Man pushing the rock up the mountain in revolt of the gods but gaining the lucidity of a Zarathustra in the process and accepting his life bravely "without appeal." Consider that the rock pushed by Sisyphus is of sufficient size and weight that the mortal can actually move it up the mountainside: in other words the boulder is not so great that Sisyphus cannot maneuver it even up a mountain despite the enormous strains that the process takes of him. Camus proposes that it is senseless and perhaps even foolhardy and cowardly to abdicate to hope and then wander into the “desert of god’s grace.” He sees Kierkegaard as abdicating himself to a “humiliated logic” which is intellectual suicide and cites Kierkegaard’s foolish pursuit, now legendary, of Regina Olson as an example of what can happen when reason is given up to faith and hope and love. As Camus writes with the confidence of Nietzsche in his beautiful phrasing in this essay, at times almost gnostic in tone and sense, with a propensity to cite apparent contradictions in which the opposites both seem true. Kierkegaard understands the fallacy of the either/or set-up with more than two possible answers or solutions and won’t fall victim to them. Camus wants us to choose between the either/or of faith, or humiliated reason, and pure reason. And for Camus this choice is a life and death matter. While I admire the writing and philosophy of Camus, he does not seem fully to understand the reason why reasonable people adopt positions of faith. Camus is an egoist and narcissist for whom the world beyond his reason is a reason not to commit intellectual suicide at the expense of humiliated reason. Kierkegaard is a higher genius in my view because he has taken a long, perceptive and intelligent study of the abyss and recognizes that his reason can only take him so far. If God exists, as Kierkegaard believes, then He has not created humanity with sufficient brains to make sense of the vastness, complexity and mystery of the universe. Kierkegaard is a proponent of reason but recognizes with proper humility that he is not the center of the universe and when his reason reaches a dead-end, then faith can kick-in as a reasonable means of experiencing the Absurd in a life affirming-approach which recognizes that some of the deeper questions may be answered later, if only one will persist, and that the best hope to overcome the abyss is to give reason more time to fathom the Absurd. This requires faith in oneself, faith in existence and more faith in the power reason itself. Camus is a chauvinist to pure reason. Kierkegaard says rather humbly that in this grand dance to the music of time that faith is the only sane and, indeed, the most reasonable approach to the Absurd. Camus deals with suicide; Kierkegaard more reasonably proposes faith and love instead as solutions, as real weapons to confront the Absurd. Why address an Absurd universe with reason anyway as Camus proposes? Why not confront an Absurd universe with your own Absurdity: at least, this approach is consistent and attuned to life itself? Kierkegaard’s faith represents humility; total abdication to the blind faith of Camus to reason is highly unreasonable and possibly the height of unreason. I know of no dead men who manage to achieve a higher state of personal enlightenment after they off themselves. It is really only a matter of timing, after all, isn't it? Woody Allen points out that 90% of life is simply showing up; I would add the the other 10% is timing. Why would it not be the height of reason to admit that there are many grand mysteries of existence which man does not have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, nor the limited intellectual bandwidth to process in a universe as vast as ours? It is not necessary to deny life and time the opportunity to hope that answers will be forthcoming and abdicate, as Camus discusses, to the senseless prospect of cutting short both: I find this approach of Camus to be the height of insanity, which is precisely where Nietzsche’s chauvinism to pure reason ultimately led him. In the world of Camus there is no God but him: if God does not exist, then Camus is his own God. Camus believes that, if man has no higher God to appeal to, then man must be free from the will of a non-existent God. Kierkegaard’s view is that faith and love are two of the tools with which mankind is endowed as gifts to overcome the abyss and the Absurd. Further, life requires the courage of Abraham to take the leap of faith and is not intellectual suicide but rather is a higher form of intelligence which enables the faculties beyond the limits of reason to add value to the existential experience of life. I emphasize that taking a leap of faith requires courage: it is neither a blind nor irrational abdication. The leap of faith also requires humility of which many intellectual egotists are incapable: so much so that some intellectual egotists would consider the logic of suicide? Spare me the logic of such pure unreason: death comes to us all soon enough as it is. Faith adds an additional intellectual sense as a another dimension to come into play and to deny its expression, out of egoism or chauvinism to pure reason, seems to me to be the height of pure folly. The vast ego of Camus discounts people who deploy faith as intellectual lightweights because he does not have the good, common sense to give them credit for having the intellectual bandwidth to examine deeply the abyss and find the resources in faith to build a bridge to span it and overcome life’s many anxieties, its pain, suffering and debilitating effects in everyday life. Kierkegaard lived in the streets of Copenhagen like Dostoyevsky in St. Petersberg as a homeless person: this penniless and lonely genius knew intimately from dark experience the depths of despair and yet was able to forge a faith that illuminated life. Kierkegaard’s “Works of Love” is a masterpiece like “Fear and Trembling” and “Either/Or” on how the expansion of the human tool chest beyond pure reason alone enriches life and fulfills hope every single day of life. We have ample reason to believe in hope and our everyday life is full of reason as to why mankind should be hopeful about future outcomes while lucidly grasping from reason and experience that many outcomes will not play out as hoped amid the randomness and chaos which inhabit our vast universe. Mankind does have the highly reasonable freedom at its disposal to hope that on the whole life is well worth living. Even if life were on the whole no better than a zero-sum game, there are valuable lessons in the downsides, which stoke one’s reason, and, when one actively seeks it, incredible joy exists on the upside sufficiently to convince us of the wisdom and rationality both of faith and love. I must reject the narrowness of the perspective of Camus in this essay and embrace in all humility the limits of human reason while concurrently embracing it for all it is worth, which is considerable, and enable both the twin leaps or faith and love to perform for me when the absurdity of life leaves me no other reasonable approach. As Camus points out the trip down the mountainside even for Sisyphus was full of enlightenment and from the mountaintop the view is absurdly vast and truly lucid in its overwhelming and inexhaustible beauty.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Albert Camus has captured the internal plight of much of the modern world. When a person begins to question his own monotonous reality, seeking to find meaning behind his daily motions of life and failing to find any at all, he comes to contemplate that void. Camus implies that if one were to honestly think about “nothing,” it would be the contemplation of the futility of most questions in life. He exemplifies the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. People lived and died in pursuit of t Albert Camus has captured the internal plight of much of the modern world. When a person begins to question his own monotonous reality, seeking to find meaning behind his daily motions of life and failing to find any at all, he comes to contemplate that void. Camus implies that if one were to honestly think about “nothing,” it would be the contemplation of the futility of most questions in life. He exemplifies the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. People lived and died in pursuit of that knowledge, and yet the question and answer alike do not matter, because we live in accordance to social structures and norms that are man-made and will one day be reformed, replaced, or blinked out of existence. The insignificance of human life in comparison to the infinite void of space and the abstract concept of time, which rules over humanity, is the notion which can manifest in the minds of men and bring about absurdity. He suggests that suicide amounts to a confession that life is not worth living. He links this confession to what he calls the "feeling of absurdity", that on the whole, we go through life with meaning and purpose, with a sense that we do things for good and profound reasons. Occasionally, however for some at least, we might come to see our daily lives dictated primarily by the forces of habit, thus bringing into question the following, if one feels that the embodiment of freedom is lost to a drone-like existence, all of our actions and reasons for them to a degree become pointless, with a feeling of absurdity linked to meaningless, meaningless to death by ones own hand. The book delves deep into "absurdity" a concept which is at the backbone to the book however is never fully explained with clarity. Definitely an essential book for those interested in nihilism as the alternative rather optimistic take on the concept is enlightening and on the contrary to common belief of the concept being parallel with pessimism. Camus in basic terms simply implies that we start to live before the habit of thinking on a deep level takes hold, thus avoiding the consequences of the meaningless nature of life, through what Camus calls an "act of eluding.", we choose not to think about the absurd because our nature is built on that of hopes and dreams for a meaningful life rather than face the consequences of staring into the void. One the main attributes used throughout his fiction, that of "exile" is also included heavily as a comparative for this essay. No one else but Camus could have wrote this work, as soon as you enter his world, the world around you becomes less apparent. Ending with with a discussion of the myth of Sisyphus to complete this work, who, according to the Greek myth, was punished for all eternity to roll a rock up a mountain only to have it roll back down to the bottom when he reaches the top. Sisyphus, the absurd hero, and his punishment are representative of the human condition, he must struggle perpetually and without hope of success. Says Camus, so long as he accepts that there is nothing more to life than this absurd struggle, then he can find happiness in it. A thought-provoking book, that is not a casual read, it's probably best suited to die-hard Camus fans, and those studying Existentialism or philosophy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    There was a part of me that really, really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars because of the way it made me think about life and consider and reconsider my own notions about the meaning we make in our worlds. It contained some really interested ideas regarding the philosophy of absurdism, which I would best describe as something of a happy medium between existentialism and nihilism, though I understand Camus himself might consider it nihilism's polar opposite. That said, I can't say I reall There was a part of me that really, really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars because of the way it made me think about life and consider and reconsider my own notions about the meaning we make in our worlds. It contained some really interested ideas regarding the philosophy of absurdism, which I would best describe as something of a happy medium between existentialism and nihilism, though I understand Camus himself might consider it nihilism's polar opposite. That said, I can't say I really liked it. There were some interesting ideas eloquently described, but Camus gets a little too bogged down in his own verbosity. Perhaps I'm shattering the windows of my own glass house when I say this, but his writing just seemed a bit too showy for me. It seemed as if he had things to say, very interesting, thought-provoking things to say, but he would rather dance around them with flowery language and arcane examples rather than just come out with them. In short, while I really enjoyed the ideas in this book, I simply can't say that I enjoyed this book. Camus had enough interesting sentiments to keep me going, but it definitely got to the point where it became a chore to read. When you find yourself questioning whether you should read the book you brought onto the T or the 'Metro', you know it's maybe not the most enthralling book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gorana

    Since it is 'the thing' nowadays to put lots of sparkly gifs and pics in a review, who am I to differ? "They bear away from their light, while their strict lord Death bids them to dance... and the rain washes, and cleanses the salt of their tears from their cheeks." Absurd enough. (view spoiler)[to be continued.. (hide spoiler)]

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    It's been 20 years since I've read The Myth of Sisyphus. Although I've wanted to write a review about it ever since joining Goodreads I haven't, because I don't remember it very well. And yet, every time I go through my books-read list and I see it sitting there unreviewed, I get the urge to write one and then I remember that I don't know the book well enough, so I drop it. A few months later I repeat the cycle. It's sort of like pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill and having it roll back It's been 20 years since I've read The Myth of Sisyphus. Although I've wanted to write a review about it ever since joining Goodreads I haven't, because I don't remember it very well. And yet, every time I go through my books-read list and I see it sitting there unreviewed, I get the urge to write one and then I remember that I don't know the book well enough, so I drop it. A few months later I repeat the cycle. It's sort of like pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill and having it roll back down, and then trying again and again with the same result. Wish I could remember what this book was about...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    And that is indeed genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Description: One of the most influential works of this century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living or not living in an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. Opening: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or i And that is indeed genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Description: One of the most influential works of this century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living or not living in an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. Opening: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect. Dipping into this as an aside to my current bedside read Nine Lives and that the Jains are in the news this week. So many high star results, so few words. Is that because no-one wishes to contemplate death? I was peeved to see there was little to console the half dead - those in coma, probable death by cancer, alzheimer's etc. For such a short entry, this should occupy the thinking person's mind for all lifespan. Nothing is inconsequential here. * Peregrinus Proteus (Greek: Περεγρινος Πρωτεύς Peregrinos Proteus; c. 95 – 165 AD) was a Greek Cynic philosopher, from Parium in Mysia. Leaving home at a young age, he first lived with the Christians in Palestine, before eventually being expelled from that community and adopting the life of a Cynic philosopher and eventually settling in Greece. He is most remembered for committing suicide by giving his own funeral oration and cremating himself on a funeral pyre at the Olympic Games in 165. wiki sourced - An Absurd Reasoning - The Absurd Man - Absurd Creation - The Myth of Sisyphus - Appendix: Hope And The Absurd In The Work Of Franz Kafka - Summer in Algiers: Opening: The loves we share with a city are often secret loves. Old walled towns like Paris, Prague, and even Florence are closed in on themselves and hence limit the world that belongs to them. But Algiers (together with certain other privileged places such as cities on the sea) opens to the sky like a mouth or a wound. In Algiers one loves the commonplaces: the sea at the end of every street, a certain volume of sunlight, the beauty of the race. And, as always, in that unashamed offering there is a secret fragrance. In Paris it is possible to be homesick for space and a beating of wings. Here at least man is gratified in every wish and, sure of his desires, can at last measure his possessions. - THE MINOTAUR, OR THE STOP IN ORAN - Helen's Exile - RETURN TO TIPASA - THE ARTIST AND HIS TIME

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Colesberry

    Classic for a reason. This book is a tonic for any agnostic or cynic struggling with the whole meaning-of-life thing. Camus, in a way that I find totally satisfying, solves that problem without the standard religious cop-out of locating meaning outside this world. What is wrong with being Sisyphus? Is this a punishment or is this just what life is if you take you head out of the bubble for long enough to see the truth of things. My essential vision of life I more or less cribbed from Camus and S Classic for a reason. This book is a tonic for any agnostic or cynic struggling with the whole meaning-of-life thing. Camus, in a way that I find totally satisfying, solves that problem without the standard religious cop-out of locating meaning outside this world. What is wrong with being Sisyphus? Is this a punishment or is this just what life is if you take you head out of the bubble for long enough to see the truth of things. My essential vision of life I more or less cribbed from Camus and Sartre: it's an absurdist project that you can accept and live and love the living of it. What I appreciate about Camus in this series of essays is that he's more positive about the whole thing than Sartre, who is quite bleak.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    “At any streetcorner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.” So, what does The Myth of Sisyphus have to say about absurdity and a universe devoid of any clear, evident meaning? Quite a bit! First, Camus rigorously defines the Absurd: “I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. The world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human “At any streetcorner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.” So, what does The Myth of Sisyphus have to say about absurdity and a universe devoid of any clear, evident meaning? Quite a bit! First, Camus rigorously defines the Absurd: “I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. The world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world.” Thus absurdity arises because “man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.” Below is an explicit definition of what Camus means when he refers to an unreasonable, irrational world: “I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms. What I touch, what resists me—that is what I understand. And these two certainties—my appetite for the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle—I also know that I cannot reconcile them. What other truth can I admit without lying, without bringing in a hope I lack and which means nothing within the limits of my condition?” Next, Camus asks, “Does the Absurd dictate death?” He does not believe so, and in fact views suicide as an inauthentic way to deal with absurdity. He mentions other inauthentic coping mechanisms, including religion. He incisively examines that temptation here: “By losing themselves in their god, by accepting his rules, they become secretly free. In spontaneously accepted slavery they recover a deeper independence. But what does that freedom mean?” Happiness in Slavery, anyone? ;) After discussing the inauthentic means of handling absurdity (all of which basically involve flight), he proceeds to unveil his theory as to the best way to live: in conscious, lucid revolt. Only by being aware of your condition and facing it can you accept it and even find happiness and dignity. You can surmount it by refusing to allow it crush your spirit or define you. You can say to the absurdity, “Is that the best you can throw at me? I can take it, bitch! I eat Absurdity for breakfast!” (This is, of course, far easier said than done.) “Consciousness and revolt, these rejections are the contrary of renunciation…in that consciousness and in that day-to-day revolt [one] gives proof of [one’s] only truth, which is defiance.” Camus provides some examples of this manner of authentic living, and discusses authors who strive for this goal in their work. Then we come to the actual myth, which gives us a (relatively) triumphant Sisyphus: “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.” Next we have an analysis of Kafka’s handling of the absurd, and a few other essays to round out the book. I will now include some of Camus' more brilliant points on various topics he covered: Death: “I come at last to death and to the attitude we have toward it. On this point everything has been said and it is only proper to avoid pathos. Yet one will never be sufficiently surprised that everyone lives as if no one ‘knew.’ This is because in reality there is no experience of death. Properly speaking, nothing has been experienced but what has been lived and made conscious. Here, it is barely possible to speak of the experience of others’ deaths. It is a substitute, an illusion, and it never quite convinces us. That melancholy convention cannot be persuasive. The horror comes in reality from the mathematical aspect of the event. If time frightens us, this is because it works out the problem and the solution comes afterward.” Art: “Like great works, deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying.” “If the world were clear, art would not exist.” Hope: “From Pandora’s box, where all the ills of humanity swarmed, the Greeks drew out hope after all the others, as the most dreadful of all. I know no more stirring symbol; for, contrary to the general belief, hope equals resignation. And to live is not to resign oneself.” Love: “For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving.” Truth: “Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable." (He states the above in response to Kierkegaard’s thought that, if underneath everything there is only a “bottomless void,” then it’d lead to despair. This reminds me of a wonderful quote by Richard Dawkins, which states that “The universe doesn't owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn't owe us a nice warm feeling inside.”) My take on the book: It was face-meltingly amazing! I don’t usually think of books of essays as “edge-of-your-seat page-turners,” but this one definitely qualifies as such. All of those buzzwords you see on supermarket bestselling paperback thrillers actually apply here. You know, like “gripping,” “a relentless thrill ride,” "packed full of riveting suspense," etc. It was compelling, honest, incisive, and bold. It was almost impossible to put down. I wish I’d read this when I was 19 and having a hard time grappling with many of the issues addressed in this book. I remember at that time I read Nausea multiple times and carried it around to sort of like ward off the omnipresent feeling of dread I was experiencing. It was my holy book, my life raft, my anchor. The Myth of Sisyphus would have been most welcome in that time of questioning and feeling hopelessly adrift that so many of us go through at that age. Bottom line: I think Camus is a goddamn rock star. Maybe I’m overenthusiastic because I’m all jacked up on caffeine and sleeplessness and Absurdity and Nine Inch Nails, but Camus is IT.

  17. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    Dense as hell but worth the effort.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena

    I'll admit that philosophy isn't my forte. I ventured into The Myth of Sisyphus because The Stranger was one of the books that shook me the most during my high school years, and left me wanting to read more of Camus. Several years later, I chose this book. This was a tough book to tackle. It took me almost six months to read its 153 pages. Camus talks about the absurdity of the human condition, where men task on and on as if death wasn't a certainty. Men require an explanation for life, but the I'll admit that philosophy isn't my forte. I ventured into The Myth of Sisyphus because The Stranger was one of the books that shook me the most during my high school years, and left me wanting to read more of Camus. Several years later, I chose this book. This was a tough book to tackle. It took me almost six months to read its 153 pages. Camus talks about the absurdity of the human condition, where men task on and on as if death wasn't a certainty. Men require an explanation for life, but the universe doesn't provide an answer. Men seek to solve this absurdity, and Camus asks: is the logical solution suicide? It is only when man is aware of this absurdity that he himself becomes absurd. This doesn't mean that he is hopeless or without joy. Sisyphus is able to find joy in his life when he grows consciousness, during his descent into his daily meaningless task, and takes his destiny for his own. Camus demands rebellion, creativity, and passion. I couldn't understand much of the text, which is rather disappointing (and places this in my "to read again" shelf). Therefore, here I end this review, for now.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Muthuvel

    Painting attempt of mine for the sake of philosophical suicide dated 03.07.2018 It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Begins”—this is important. I wanted to read Painting attempt of mine for the sake of philosophical suicide dated 03.07.2018 It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Begins”—this is important. I wanted to read the book because i knew its about Suicide. Some personal and social events recently motivated me to read. And the book is a very difficult read for me, to be honest. Got a whole new experience of what it means to be "absurd". The Myth of Sisyphus totally hooked me up that it took me a whole night finishing it, pondering the perceptions of Camus taking many periodical stops during the journey. Not recommended for all. The Essay also includes the philosophical absurdities brought up by fellow philosophers like Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger. Last time i remember reading a book of hardcore philosophy was from Robert Pirsig's Zen and And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which is a couple of years ago. All of a sudden, i didn't expect such mind tiring evaluations and ideologies of various philosophers regarding the fate, meaning of life, stuffs like that, all of which Camus label as absurd. Living is keeping the absurd alive. Keeping it alive is, above all, contemplating it. He also intends in elaborating his personal views on Love, Fame, some highly held beliefs (other absurdities) that stir up suicidal notions when broken and beyond mending up. A Book that ought to be read and ponder the stuffs out of it by every serious readers. He's going to be listed in my favorite writers, i sense that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abeer Abdullah

    the title essay is incredible, other essays come close, but arent as good. I feel That camus philosophy is actually incredibly optimistic because it draws a being who is totally aware of the futility of his own existence but non the less derives joy from it. Some days I relate heavily to camus, other days i prefer Schopenhauer's total pessimism. when it comes to their brands of 'existentialism' i have to say i prefer camus to sartre. sartre attaches too much power to human will, camus understands h the title essay is incredible, other essays come close, but arent as good. I feel That camus philosophy is actually incredibly optimistic because it draws a being who is totally aware of the futility of his own existence but non the less derives joy from it. Some days I relate heavily to camus, other days i prefer Schopenhauer's total pessimism. when it comes to their brands of 'existentialism' i have to say i prefer camus to sartre. sartre attaches too much power to human will, camus understands how helpless and powerless we truly are to the tyranny of not knowing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Over the past few weeks I've found myself immersed in Sartre and Camus, beginning with Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" and then rereading Sartre's essay on Camus (and why reading The Myth of Sisyphus is essential if one is to properly understand The Stranger) and rereading Camus' The Stranger, and then finally reading the present work. I think that The Myth of Sisyphus (and for that matter the other essays in this collection, which Camus wrote prior to Sisyphus, but in which he plants th Over the past few weeks I've found myself immersed in Sartre and Camus, beginning with Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" and then rereading Sartre's essay on Camus (and why reading The Myth of Sisyphus is essential if one is to properly understand The Stranger) and rereading Camus' The Stranger, and then finally reading the present work. I think that The Myth of Sisyphus (and for that matter the other essays in this collection, which Camus wrote prior to Sisyphus, but in which he plants the seeds for the philosophy of the Absurd that would really germinate later on, as his art/thought matured) can add depth and insight to one's understanding of The Stranger, but I think each work also stands well enough on its own, The Stranger as a work of Absurdist fiction and Sisyphus as a work of philosophy in which Camus firms up ideas that he had been toying with for some time. What sets apart the essays in this collection that follow Sisyphus (chronologically the earlier ones) is that in them Camus begins to establish his philosophy of the Absurd, but he gives each of these discussions a setting familiar to him, all cities in Algeria (Algiers, Tipasa, Oran). The earliest essay in this collection ("Summer in Algiers") is from 1936, and it was written at a time when Algerian resistance to French rule was rising, at a time of instability and chaos in the region, just after Camus had joined the Communist Party, and before his shift to anarchism. Like many at the time (and like many before him in periods of instability -- one can think of any number of names from the 19th century) Camus was seeking ways of understanding the new world that was emerging and of finding man's place in it. As Camus' thought progressed, regional chaos soon made room for war, as World War II began, with all of its well-known atrocities of man against man. In a world of so much destruction and death, when so many had lost everything they had -- parents, children, spouses, homes -- how could one make sense of the world? How could one accept the existence of God, which so many earlier philosophers had taken for granted, in the face of so much hate and destruction? And, most importantly, if God was dead and the world seemed to many to be meaningless, then what was the point of carrying on? In his essay The Rebel (which I've yet to read, but Camus assures me in the preface), much as in The Stranger, Camus deals with the problem of murder "without the aid of eternal values which, temporarily perhaps, are absent or distorted in contemporary Europe." In The Myth of Sisyphus he deals with the problem of suicide in the same post-war world, in which the "eternal values" of the past have seemingly turned to dust. He proceeds therein to address the role of man in this new world, "in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and light" where "man feels an alien, a stranger," where "[h]is exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land." It is this setting and this "divorce between man and his life," Camus explains that is really the feeling of absurdity. As this main essay progresses, Camus takes aim at existentialist philosophers, and draws on Greek mythology (particularly, as the title of the essay suggests, that "absurd hero" Sisyphus), contemporary philosophy and the works of Dostoevsky, Kafka, Shakespeare, Nietzsche and on the story of Don Juan (among other sources). Sisyphus' "struggle . . . toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart," Camus concludes. "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." We must keep pressing on -- revolt, create, live -- in the present in defiance of the meaningless world. "Suicide," Camus tells us "settles the absurd" and is "acceptance at its extreme." But it is "revolt" that "gives life its value." For every hill that we must climb, there is a peak and a downhill slope. In the end, Camus assures his readers that "The point is to live." And by accepting that we make this world, brutal and hopeless though it may be (and perhaps one may view Camus as a pessimist for this), by throwing away the illusions we have been taught to cherish, there is in this a sense of freedom.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thuys

    If someone's discourse is a building representing the structure of his mind then I find myself in dead end in every corner of this one. Or I need to read over and over again til I could find the way with my eyes closed. Absurd, absurd, absurd... all over the floor.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Bansal

    Truly enjoyed reading this complex philosophical essay. Camus undoubtedly has a way with words. The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain, whence the boulder would fall back on its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. This is when Camus discovers the utility of the Absurd. If the descent towards the underworld leads one to sorrow, it can also lead to joy. Happiness and Truly enjoyed reading this complex philosophical essay. Camus undoubtedly has a way with words. The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain, whence the boulder would fall back on its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. This is when Camus discovers the utility of the Absurd. If the descent towards the underworld leads one to sorrow, it can also lead to joy. Happiness and the Absurd are two sons of the same earth. ”It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    The meaninglessness of life. Sigh. I think this is the true path to the wakening of the adult from the child. This bubble bursting awareness that there really may be nothing else out there and that time marches us on toward our inevitable death. Something about the myth at the end though was fairly reassuring. I actually found some strange comfort in this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    رؤیا

    “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards.” These are the sentences that Camus started his famous book “the Myth of Sisyphus” in 1942. Sisyphus was the ancient Greek mythological creatures. After that Sisyphus, deceiving the gods, Z “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards.” These are the sentences that Camus started his famous book “the Myth of Sisyphus” in 1942. Sisyphus was the ancient Greek mythological creatures. After that Sisyphus, deceiving the gods, Zeus banished him to Tartarus (in Greek mythology: a prison like barren land which was located at the deepest point of the world). Sisyphus was condemned forever to its rocky top of the mountain but as soon as the summit approached the stone was rolled to the bottom so he had to do it all over again. What Sisyphus was condemned to do, in a way is similar to the absurd things that human beings do today. Camus from the beginning of the book determines the only issue that is available is “value of life”. Other issues discussed in the book were suicides, mortality and faith. To Camus only life and the ability to be part of the world is important. Suicide is the act to end life usually as a result of frustration and inability to combat with life events. Camus is quite familiar with these facts, but he does not pay attention to mortality. In the myth of Sisyphus the relationship between mortality and conviction to work that actually makes him immortal, not in conflict with each other. Incidentally, in this combination, Camus well show up when death comes to me, we are immortal entities. The Sisyphus and his story is indicative of how a human being can be felt around the world struggle. Nothing is more frightening than work without any result, always start over and do not have any specific purpose but Sisyphus was forced to accept and overcome the absurd. The myth of Sisyphus, is a deeply human book. While this book frequently uses the word "fate" but its main purpose was to describe "panic". The fear of taking a wrong decision, the horror of a situation and the horrors of life in one word is to display the “absurd”. Overcoming this fear is possible only with ones’ faith. A strong person would create a strong community that will change the world. This change does not necessarily mean the movement from one point to another, but can be a change in perception and lead to changed patterns and paradigms. "The abourd man discovers a discipline that will make up the greatest of his strengths"

  26. 5 out of 5

    Candace Morris

    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 exist 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."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Henry Martin

    This was my third Camus, and certainly not the last one. Yet, to be completely honest, I did not enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed The Stranger, and The First Man. Why? There were many points Mr. Camus made that I disagreed with. Then again, this book was an essay, and essays are opinions. I struggled with the absurd, with Sisyphus. I am of the view that suicide always has to remain an option, and while the world is indeed absurd, it is not the absurdity that gives life its meaning. For me th This was my third Camus, and certainly not the last one. Yet, to be completely honest, I did not enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed The Stranger, and The First Man. Why? There were many points Mr. Camus made that I disagreed with. Then again, this book was an essay, and essays are opinions. I struggled with the absurd, with Sisyphus. I am of the view that suicide always has to remain an option, and while the world is indeed absurd, it is not the absurdity that gives life its meaning. For me the book took a turn for the better with the essays on Drama and Conquerors. Camus' portrayal of the actor, his struggle and absurdity was much more meaningful. Algiers and Oran were my favorite pieces within this volume. Why? - perhaps the hopeless romantic in me (yes, it is hidden somewhere deep in me) could relate to those themes much better. In Oran, I found joy and simplicity. I found a tone I myself employ - seeing the beauty in the absurd moments, in simplicity of everyday life. Perhaps this is why I rejoiced once I read past the Myth of Sisyphus, and delved into the subsequent texts. Overall, this is a very engaging read which will stimulate the brain and spark interesting conversations. Existentialism and absurdity can be related; nevertheless, I see myself finding a slightly different meaning in each of them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    lavinia

    *drumroll please* "there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." ok, you can now go back to your cat & corgi videos online.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cooper Cooper

    This is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. In it Albert Camus, one of the two (with Jean-Paul Sartre) leading “French existentialists,” faces the problem of suicide: an act that seems to make philosophical sense in a world in which one is born accidentally and suffers and dies to no apparent purpose. Camus: “The subject of this essay is precisely the relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.” Keep in mind This is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. In it Albert Camus, one of the two (with Jean-Paul Sartre) leading “French existentialists,” faces the problem of suicide: an act that seems to make philosophical sense in a world in which one is born accidentally and suffers and dies to no apparent purpose. Camus: “The subject of this essay is precisely the relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.” Keep in mind that Camus lived through and was shaped by the horrors of World War II, in which he participated by moving from his native Algeria to France and editing Combat, a newspaper of the Resistance. He had no use for philosophical flapdoodle from the ivory tower: he was interested in gut issues that affect the lives of real people. That is why he became so popular worldwide. The title of this book comes from a Greek myth: as a punishment for angering the gods, poor Sisyphus was doomed endlessly to roll a heavy boulder to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back from the summit to the base, where he had to start all over again—repeating this process through all eternity. Camus: “…Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth.” Here’s Camus’ philosophy in a nutshell: Man is born into a universe that he can never fully understand: the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. Perhaps there is some higher (religious) meaning to life, but man cannot know what it is. He knows only that he has been born to die and that there is no plausible evidence for an afterlife. He therefore finds himself in an absurd position: nothing he does in this life can prevent his annihilation at the end of it. Hard work, achievement, fame, glory—in the end, all for naught. Meaningless. Given this, should he commit suicide now and get it over with—end the farce? Camus says no. On the contrary: rejoice that life has no meaning because this sets you free to fully enjoy it. Your body wants pleasure and your mind seeks beauty, and the universe (though incomprehensible) furnishes you with plenty of both. Take what it gives you, he says, enjoy yourself day by day, and pride yourself that in spite of knowing the inevitability of your own death you have the guts to stand up and defy the universe by seizing life’s joys while you live. To be an authentic human being means to remain fully conscious of your inevitable death at all times and to fight off the illusory hopes that the culture keeps throwing at you—all of which represent desperate evasions by people too cowardly to accept the terrifying truth. Camus speaks: A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, without further explanation, that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death. Eluding is the invariable game. The typical act of eluding, the fatal evasion that constitutes the third theme of this essay, is hope. Hope of another life one must ‘deserve’ or trickery of those who live not for life itself but for some great idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it meaning, and betray it. Tenacity and acumen are privileged spectators of this inhuman show in which absurdity, hope, and death carry on their dialogue. The mind can then analyze the figures of that elementary and yet subtle dance before illustrating them and reliving them itself. What I know, what is certain, what I cannot deny, what I cannot reject—this is what counts. I can negate everything of that part of me that lives on vague nostalgias, except this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion…. I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I do know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms.” It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning. Living an experience, a particular fate, is accepting it fully. Now, no one will live his fate, knowing it to be absurd, unless he does everything to keep before him that absurd brought to light by consciousness. The absurd man thus catches sight of a burning and frigid, transparent and limited universe in which nothing is possible but everything is given, and beyond which all is collapse and nothingness. He can then decide to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation. Being aware of one’s life, one’s revolt, one’s freedom, and to the maximum, is living, and to the maximum. What, in fact, is the absurd man? He who, without negating it, does nothing for the eternal. Not that nostalgia is foreign to him. But he prefers his courage and his reasoning. The first teaches him to live without appeal and to get along with what he has; the second informs him of his limits. Assured of his temporally limited freedom, of his revolt devoid of future, and of his mortal consciousness, he lives out his adventure within the span of his lifetime. That is his field, that is his action, which he shields from any judgment but his own. If [the myth of Sisyphus:] is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshie

    Absurdism is a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe (Merriam-Webster) The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays was a struggle to read through. On some points, morbid and on others inspiring, the book was divided in three absurd themes: the absurd reasoning, the absurd man and the absurd creation and the following remaining pages of the book were Camus' essays about places (Al Absurdism is a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe (Merriam-Webster) The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays was a struggle to read through. On some points, morbid and on others inspiring, the book was divided in three absurd themes: the absurd reasoning, the absurd man and the absurd creation and the following remaining pages of the book were Camus' essays about places (Algiers, Tuspina, and Oran), Greek Mythology (The Myth Of Sisyphus and Trojan War) and also a brief interview about being an artiste. An honest and raw book which was filled with thought-provoking ideas in a very thought-provoking manner. Add to this the prose of his essays which were very well written in striking details and observations. Ideas were plenty but one might find one's self lost and bored (or even depressed with the notion of one's life) as Camus' connected his essays and works with a lot of other authors' works. The Absurd Camus stated that the desire and tendency of humans to find meaning in their lives would result in the inability to find nothing (see: Absurdism). Therefore, he proposed three solutions with the third being his preference: 1. suicide - since Absurdism is the belief that one is unable to find meaning in this life and suicide is ending one's life because life is meaningless, it becomes more absurd 2. belief in a higher power (philosophical suicide) - restricts philosophical queries as one surrenders and depends their life on a higher being which result in a lack of freedom 3. acceptance of the absurd and finding personal meaning (free from spiritual or religious constraints) A timely read as I grappled with my own version of an existential crisis, it eased and alleviated my helplessness of trying to find reasons that could not exist. Hence, there was the enlightenment of acceptance. In the future, after reading more books related to this, I shall find myself rereading this and increasing my rating. Related Readings -Franz Kafka - The Trial / The Penal Colony / Metamorphosis / The Castle -Friedrich Nietzcshe - Thus Spoke Zarathustra -Fyodor Dostoevsky - Demons / Brothers Karamazov -George Gordon Byron - Don Juan -Greek Mythology: Sisyphus / Prometheus / Minotaur / Eurydice / Oedipus / Trojan War -Jean Paul Sartre - Nausea -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther / Faust / Wilhelm Meister's -Apprenticeship -Leo Chestov - Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy -Marcel Proust - In Search of Lost Time -Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra - Don Quixote -William Shakespeare - Hamlet Other related artists / authors: Balzac, Heidegger, Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Malraux, Melville, Marx and Rembrandt, Sade, Shestov and Stendhal. To ponder on — -"I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions." -"In a sense, and as in melodrama, killing yourself amounts to confessing. It is confessing that life is too much for you or that you do not understand it." -"Like great works, deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying." -"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning." -"A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger." -"I come at last to death and to the attitude we have toward it. On this point everything has been said and it is only proper to avoid pathos. Yet one will never be sufficiently surprised that everyone lives as if no one 'knew'. This is because in reality there is no experience of death. Properly speaking, nothing has been experienced but what has been lived and made conscious." -"The absurdity peculiar to this problem comes from the fact that the very notion that makes the problem of freedom possible also takes away all its meaning. For in the presence of Go there is less a problem of freedom than a problem of evil. You know the alternative: either we are not free and God the all-powerful is responsible for evil. Or we are free and responsible but God is not all-powerful." -"We, too, sometimes feel pity for ourselves. It is the only compassion that seems acceptable to us: a feeling that perhaps you hardly understand and that seems to you scarcely virile. Yet the most daring among us are the ones who feel it. But we call the lucid ones virile and we do not want a strength that is apart from lucidity." -"One becomes so accustomed so quickly. A man wants to earn money in order to be happy, and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end." -"When one has once had the good luck to love intensely, life is spent in trying to recapture that ardor and that illumination. Forsaking beauty and the sensual happiness attached to it, exclusively serving misfortune, calls for a nobility I lack." -"I do not have to examine the emotion of a thought or of an act of faith. I have a whole lifetime to do that." -"There, too, there are several ways of committing suicide, one of which is the total gift and forgetfulness of self." -"The fecundity and the importance of a literary form are often measured by the trash it contains. The number of bad novels must not make us forget the value of the best. These, indeed, carry with them their universe." -"If God exists, all depends on him and we can do nothing against his will. If he does not exist everything depends on us." -"Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them." -"As in all religions, man is freed of the weight of his own life. But if I know that, if I can even admire it, I also know that I am not seeking what is universal, but what is true. The two may well not coincide." -"In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion; in order to serve men better, one has to hold the them at a distance for a time." -"I watched the sea barely swelling at that hour with an exhausted motion, and I satisfied the two thirsts one cannot long neglect without drying up -- I mean loving and admiring. For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice."

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