"J" is for "Juggling a Boulder"
I have to wonder how many bloggers, studying the above prompt, will be reminded of the essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” by Albert Camus.
Surely the story is familiar. It compares the absurdity of so much of life today with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of juggling a boulder as he pushes it up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.
In the essay, Camus introduced his philosophy: the futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity - and the ability of a man to be honest - in the face of an often unintelligible world.
The world of Albert Camus was indeed unintelligible. He wrote the essay in 1942, during the Nazi occupation of France. At the time he was playing his part to nurture the French resistance movement and he helped publish “Combat,” an underground newspaper. That same year he wrote what is probably his best-known work, the novel “The Stranger.”
His group worked diligently against the Nazis, and in it Camus assumed the nom de guerre “Beauchard.” Camus became the paper's editor in 1943 and was in Paris when the Allies liberated the city.
After the war, Camus began hanging out at the Café de Flore on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris with Jean-Paul Sartre and an entire world of amateur philosophers of that era. Although he leaned left politically, his strong criticisms of Communist doctrine did not win him any friends in the Communist parties that were so strong in those days.
I’ve always been fascinated by the answer of Camus to the philosophical questions he poses in his famous essay. He believes that man, like Sisyphus, is involved in an activity that is basically futile, a futile search for meaning, truth, values. His conclusion is surprising.
Since that boulder is going to keep on rolling back down, no matter what, he believes the struggle itself is, for many, enough. Camus wrote: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
(Also submitted to "Sunday Scribblings")
1 year ago