Sunday, March 18, 2012

For Three-Word Wednesday, Magpie 109 and ABC Wednesday

"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")

45 comments:

R. Burnett Baker said...

Excellent! Lyn wrote referenced Sisyphus this morning! I suppose my take/rant could travel those lines without the reference. You never fail to educate, Berowne!

Rick

R. Burnett Baker said...

goodness, "Lyn wrote referenced". Um Lyn referenced...

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

This is a very good post. A reminder and very informative... Thanks.,

JJRod'z

Tess Kincaid said...

Excellent post Mr. B...I like your Myth of Sisyphus connection...perfect take on the prompt...

Daydreamertoo said...

I guess the meaning, is the meaning itself.
An intriguing write and read, thank you.

Sue said...

An apt response to this prompt...and a connection I had not made.

Nicely done!

=)

Leslie: said...

I read L'Etranger in first year university and lo and behold, it turned up this year for my grade 12s that I tutor (only in English this time). And one student is now doing a literary essay on Camus' short story "The Guest." He (Camus) did have an intriguing philosophy...one that is difficult to grasp or to accept. But, I guess that's what made him famous and fascinating to study.

jaerose said...

And he was good at football..(sorry couldn't help myself)..as usual I came away knowing more than when I arrived..fine write..Jae

Berowne said...

jaerose: "And he was good at football..(sorry couldn't help myself)."
Yes, he played for Boulder, Colorado. :-)

Linda said...

Thank you for the reference to mythology and to Albert Camus. In this day and age the world could use a little more clarity, Berowne. Your work is appreciated. =D

Laurel's Quill said...

WOW! Thank you for sharing this...futility is smattered all over the breadth of this photo!!! LOVE IT! Laurel

zongrik said...

i recently read both of those, and also the Plague. thanks for referencing them!!

angular acceleration

Brian Miller said...

nice you and lyn...funny i just read hers...an interesting philosophy held by camus...if that is the case does life have no meaning then...and then should i even get out of bed tomorrow...

Helena said...

Very interesting indeed. I consider my ironing to be similar (the same!) to Sisyphus's condemnation.

Chevrefeuille said...

Lovely story. I wasn't familiar with the Sisyphus story. thank you for sharing it with us.

Kathe W. said...

when I saw this weeks image- I said to myself "What will Berowne make of this " and voila there you are never disappointing me!

Berowne said...

Kathe W: "Voila, there you are, never disappointing me!"
Just as you never disappoint me, with such fine comments.
Brian M: "If that is the case does life have no meaning then, and should I even get out of bed tomorrow?"
Tomorrow, no. Tuesday - maybe. :-)
Linda: "Berowne, your work is appreciated."
As is your comment - thanks.

Karen said...

I wasn't familiar with it, thanks for sharing.

cosmos cami said...

Excellent essay.
Thank you for sharing

Rinkly Rimes said...

I can't imagine Sisyphus 'happy' or even resigned. But your response definitely made me happy and I don't mind how many more boulders you rumble down!

kaykuala said...

We always get informed with your posts, Berowne! It's an education!

Hank

Tumblewords: said...

Is that all there is, Alfie? The rock, the rock. Delightful write for the image.

Helen said...

Class dismissed! Next week, same time? (I wondered what you would do with this prompt too)

Kristen Haskell said...

Thank you - I always learn something from you and I truly appreciate it.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Interesting conclusion on Sisyphus. I knew of Camus' activism, heroism during the War... As always, I learned something new from your post, Berowne. Bless you! Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/03/19/honest-thy-ploughs-sun-scribblings-poetic-bloomings/

C.M. Jackson said...

Yes an amazing lesson...thank you

Mama Zen said...

Fascinating take on the picture!

Dave King said...

Absolutely spot on.

Berowne said...

What wonderful comments from Dave King, Mama Zen, C M Jackson, S L Pencil, Kristen H, Helen, Tumblewords, kaykuala, Rinkly R, cosmos cami and Karen -- my sincere thanks.

Doctor FTSE said...

Great stuff again! The world has to be unintelligible, otherwise there would be no gainful employment for philosophers!

Carver said...

Great post. I read that so long ago that I had forgotten it but this post reminded me. Carver, ABC Wednesday Team

Lydia said...

Dear Professor,

I leave for errands having learned something here that my mind can play with along the day.

As always, thank you,

A grateful student


:)

Roger Owen Green said...

the epitome of frustration and hopelessness.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Berowne said...

Roger Owen Green: "The epitome of frustration and hopelessness."
Who, me? :-)

Ramesh Sood said...

And nothing wrong in imagining him Happy if it gives a smile to the one..

I enjoyed the piece here.. perhpas my first visit.. but I enjoyed it.. came through 3WW.. if you love to read amateurish poetry diligently written and nurtured, do visit..me.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if Sisyphus loved the struggle, myself, but it's certainly an interesting take on the myth. The guy I always felt sorry for was Tantalus...

Ellecee said...

Enjoyed your post so much. It can open up some "meaty" discussions which I miss sometimes. Thank you so much for providing a source.

Sheilagh Lee said...

I always learn so much from your posts they are extremely interesting to read.

Kay L. Davies said...

I find it difficult to imagine Sisyphus happy, but I know I have managed to be happy within myself even while my outer circumstances appalled me.
K

Berowne said...

Kay L D: "I find it difficult to imagine Sisyphus happy."
Psychologists tell us that one way to be happy is to keep busy. Maybe Sisyphus visited the same psychologist. :-)

rallentanda said...

Titillating snippet about Camus.
Answer to Brian Miller's question.
No... but at some stage you will need to change your sheets:)

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: "Happy" playing the role of the non-observant observer perhaps. Camus is a handsome rogue, he was/wasnt an existentialist?

Berowne said...

chiccoreal: "Camus is a handsome rogue, he was/wasnt an existentialist?"

The experts tell us: "Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label."

ds said...

Wonderful connection. I've always had trouble imagining Sisyphus "happy." The meaning of the struggle is the struggle itself. Thank you for the education, sir. It is good to keep the cogs going...

Berowne said...

To ds:
I don't feel dull, I don't feel hollow.
I found myself in your "Blogs I Follow." :-)

 
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