Myth of Sisyphus
by Albert Camus
"Therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.
How to answer it? Living, naturally, is never easy. You continue making the gestures commanded by existence for many reasons, the first of which is habit.
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 this life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. Belief in the absurdity of existence must then dictate his conduct. In a man’s attachment to life there is something stronger than all the ills in the world. We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.
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.
Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. Authentic Humanism (click here) It awakens consciousness and provokes what follows.Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. But a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. The mind’s deepest desire, even in its most elaborate operations, parallels man’s unconscious feeling in the face of his universe: it is an insistence upon familiarity, an appetite for clarity. Understanding the world for a man is reducing it to the human, stamping it with his seal. Heidegger considers the human condition coldly and announces that that existence is humiliated. The only reality is “anxiety” in the whole chain of beings. To the man lost in the world and its diversions this anxiety is a brief, fleeting fear. But if that fear becomes conscious of itself, it becomes anguish, the perpetual climate of the lucid man “in whom existence is concentrated.”This professor of philosophy writes without trembling and in the most abstract language in the world that “the finite and limited character of human existence is more primordial than man himself.”
There exists an obvious fact that seems utterly moral: namely, that a man is always a prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them. A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future. That is natural. But it is just as natural that he should strive to escape the universe of which he is the creator. Living an experience, a particular fate, is accepting it fully. That innocence is to be feared. “Everything is permitted,” exclaims Ivan Karamazov. “Everything is permitted” does not mean that nothing is forbidden. All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. That revolt gives life its value. Spread out over the whole length of a life, it restores its majesty to that life. To a man devoid of blinders, there is no finer sight than that of the intelligence at grips with a reality that transcends it. To tell the truth, far from being romantic, I believe
in the necessity of a rule and an order. And that it would be surprising if the rule we need were given us by this disordered society, or, on the other hand, by those doctrinaires who declare themselves liberated from all rules and all scruples. There is in the human condition a basic absurdity as well as an implacable nobility.