The Myth of Sisyphus

Why rolling a stone uphill all day and then redo it again the next day?

Chapter 1 - An Absurd Reasoning

Chapter 1.1 - Absurdity & Suicide

Many people die because they judge life is not worth living. Many people die for the ideas that give them a reason for living (a reason for living is also a reason for dying).

Killing yourself amounts to confessing that living is not worth the trouble. Dying voluntarily implies you recognized the insane character of daily habits, the absence of reason for living and the uselessness of suffering.

A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. A world in which a man is a stranger deprived of a promised land, will give rise to the feeling of absurdity. In the second world, suicide seems like a reasonable solution to the absurdity.

Chapter 1.2 - Absurd Wall

If I look around, absurdity is every where. One day I am a busy bee, worrying about finishing my tasks on time; the next day, the feeling of dread arises, the question of "why" always comes up with no good answers. Some days I just stop and realize how old and tired I feel; I know I will continue aging and I am practically marching to death.

This is not new, everything that has been said has been said casually in literature and daily conversation. What is more important than the discovery of absurdity is the consequences.

Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. I can define and summarize attributes of my self, then adding them up, and even then the sum is not enough to describe the self. There are truths but no truth, "know thyself" seems meaningless as I can know the approximated self but not the true self.

Chapter 1.3 - Philosophical Suicide

To be absurd means to be contradictory. It is a divorce between a fact and a reality. It lies in neither of the elements compared; it is born out of their confrontation. The absurd is not in man nor in the world but in their presence together.

Existential philosophies suggest escape in face of absurdity.

For Karl Jaspers, the absurd becomes god and the inability to understand becomes the existence that illuminates everything.

For Chestov, "We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible. As for the possible, men suffice." Being aware of the absurd amounts to accepting it, and it is proved only to be dispelled. The absurd does not lie in man's universe, but with God in eternity. The struggle is eluded, causing to disappear its essential characters (opposition, laceration, and divorce). To Chestov reason is useless but there is something beyond reason. To an absurd mind reason is useless and there is nothing beyond reason.

For Søren Kierkegaard, antimony and paradox become criteria of the religious. The thing that led to despair of the meaning and the depth of this life gives it its truth and its clarity. "In his failure, the believer finds his triumph." Since nothing is proved, everything can be proved.

For Edmund Husserl, the abstract world becomes god itself. Reason has no limits in that world. "If all masses subject to attraction were to disappear, the law of attraction would not be destroyed but would simply remain without any possible application.", which is tantamount to "If we could contemplate clearly the exact laws of psychic processes, they would be seen to be likewise eternal and invariable, like the basic laws of theoretical natural science. Hence they would be valid even if there were no psychic process." The absurd, on the contrary, establishes its limits since it is powerless to calm its anguish.

Chapter 1.4 - Absurd Freedom

Life will be lived knowing it has no meaning. Living is keeping the absurd alive; there is no hope, the fate is certain but there is no resignation. It is the constant struggle that keep us aware of the experience.

Suicide is acceptance at its extreme; in a way, suicide settles the absurd by killing both the human and the absurd. As for the absurd man, he is a living man condemned to death, who is aware of looming doom and yet simultaneously reject death. In that revolt, he gives proof to his only truth, which is defiance.

One certainty when completely turning toward death is that there is no future. It is liberating to be feel remote from one's own life to increase it and take a broad view of it. This independence has a definite time limit, like any freedom of action. In front of the absurd man is a limited universe, and beyond which is nothingness. He can then decides to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.

To an absurd man, his freedom has no meaning except in relation to its limited fate. The more he struggles, the more he lives. In that sense, it isn't the best living but the most living that he wants. To two men living the same number of years, the world always provide the same sum of experience. It is up to us to be aware of them. Being aware of one's life, one's revolt, one's freedom, and to the maximum, is living to the maximum.

The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.

Chapter 2 - The Absurd Man

Chapter 2.1 - Don Juanism

Don Juan loves every woman with the same passion, hence he must repeat his quest. He isn't melancholy because he knows his limit and does not hope.

The ultimate end, awaited but never desired, the ultimate end is negligible.

Chapter 2.2 - Drama

All kinds of fame are ephemeral. In 10,000 years, Goethe's works will be dust and his name forgotten. Meditated upon, it reduces our perturbations to indifference. Above all, it directs our concerns toward what is most certain, the immediate, the now.

Chapter 2.3 - Conquest

Wise man lives on what he has without speculating what he has not.

Chapter 3 - Absurd Creation

Chapter 3.1 - Philosophy & Fiction

Creating art is living doubly, it is just as much experiencing as reflecting. All try their hands at miming, at repeating, at recreating the reality that is theirs. Creation is the great mime.

To think is first of all to create a world (or to limit one's own world).

Chapter 3.2 - Kirilov

"If God does not exist, I am god." To become god is merely to be free on this earth, not to serve an immortal being.

All is well, everything is permitted, and nothing is hateful.

Chapter 3.3 - Ephemeral Creation

To work and create for nothing, to sculpture in clay, to know that one's creation has no future, to see one's work destroyed in a day while being aware that fundamentally this has no more importance than building for centuries.

To create is likewise to give a shape to one's fate. For all those characters, their work defines them at least as much as it is defined by them. There is no frontier between being and appearing.

Chapter 4 - The Myth of Sisyphus

If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which the absurd man concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days.

The struggle itself toward the height is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.