9/14 Feeling Absurd?

“There can be no absurd outside the human mind. Thus, like everything else, the absurd ends with death. But there can be no absurd outside this world either … I judge the notion of the absurd to be essential and consider that it can stand as the first of my truths … If I judge that a thing is true, I must preserve it … preserve the very thing that crushes me, consequently to respect what I consider essential in it … a confrontation and an unceasing struggle.” (In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus)

When I was younger, I always like to find rationality in everything around me. “I want everything to be explained to me or nothing” (Camus, p46).

As I grew older, I have realized that there are certain moments, no matter how hard I try, no rationality can explain. Instead, “the mind … seeks and finds nothing but contradictions and nonsense” (Camus, p46).

Why am I acting this way? Why are these or those people acting that way? Camus believes that is because “the world is peopled with such irrationals … nothing is clear, all is chaos, that all man has is his lucidity and his definite knowledge of the walls surrounding him” (p46). Camus states that our mind always likes to make a judgment and choose a conclusion when it reaches its limit (p47). To me, I find the word “limit” interesting. It seems to me that Camus is saying that it is important to stay conscious when your mind is in the desert by itself and know how far it has gone in the desert. But the desert is very empty, and your mind is alone in there. The mind might be yearning for hope, for happiness, for reason. Truth is, the mind will eventually reach the absurdity — “this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world” (Camus, p47).

Some minds will give up when it realizes that all it can reach is a sense of absurdity. The absurdity has nothing to do with what they were hoping to find in the desert — happiness, hope, reasons for why things are how they are like. Camus claims that the “absurdity springs from a comparison … between a bare fact and a certain reality, between an action and the world that transcends it” (p49).

Camus gives a great example of an absurd act in the book: “a man armed only with a sword attack a group of machine guns” (p49). This action is absurd because it is “impossible”, and it is “contradictory” (p49). There is a “disproportion between his intention and the reality he will encounter” and a “contradiction … between his true strength and the aim he has in view” (Camus, p48).

To me, the example Camus gave was the most simple form of an absurd example involving a physical flesh versus the world. But it is very easy to transcend the example above into our daily life that involves our mind against the world.

I have a limited amount of energy and concentration level. However, the world seems to present to me endless things and tasks to do. I seek for rationality, and I seek for hope. But the world answers me nothing but silences. The “contradiction … between [my] true strength and the aim [I] ha[ve] in view” (Camus, p48) is so clear to me, that only absurdity is left.

I would like to end this blog with a definition Camus has for the absurd — the “unceasing struggle” — we have to face every day.

“That struggle implies a total absence of hope (which has nothing to do with despair), a continual rejection (which must not be confused with renunciation), and a conscious dissatisfaction (which must not be compared to immature unrest) … The absurd has meaning only in so far as it is not agreed to” (p49).

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