Sunday, 29 July 2007

Albert and me

What I love about Albert Camus is his love of humanity and his love for life. When one first comes to the conclusion that there is probably (definitely?) no God it can be a somewhat bleak time. There are very good reasons why religions have repeatedly been created over the millenia. When things are going badly we want reassurance that things might be better some day, even if it's not until after we are dead; we like to think that the baddies will be punished and the good rewarded; most of all, we cannot bear the fact that we as individuals might cease to exist.

To become an atheist means accepting that none of that is going to happen - no rewards, no punishments, no afterlife, no more ME! It is hard but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Once I got used to the idea of my own mortality I became a calmer and even a happier person. More of that another day...

I love Camus because his love and empathy for humanity illuminates everything he writes. His writing is characterized by a stubbornness of spirit, a determination to overcome difficulties, not because life will be better for overcoming them but because there are no guarantees that it will. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Sisyphus' life will never get any better - that is guaranteed. The Gods have condemned him to push the huge boulder up a mountain for eternity. But Camus sees in Sisyphus the triumph of the human spirit over the petty and cruel punishments of the Gods. Knowing that there is no escape and no happy ending for him gives him the power of scorn over his fate.

I see so much in Camus' essay - far too much to even scratch the surface here - I'll write more another day. But Sisyphus is a symbol of what it is to be human in a meaningless universe; to be an existentialist. Once you know that life is short and cruel and random, once you know that there is no hope for a better life in the hereafter, you too become an absurd hero and you can laugh at whatever life throws at you

PS I have found some very interesting thoughts here -

at the Everything is Pointless blog. Good stuff Louie!


Anonymous said...

Nice post! I've always enjoyed Camus' writing, especially "The Myth of Sisyphus".

Puddock said...

Thanks docmike! I like your site too - great cartoons!