motto lotto

Thursday, December 31, 2009

the myth of sisyphus

I recently read an older copy of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. Some quotes I found noteworthy:

[An Absurd Reasoning]

Great feelings take with them their own universe, splendid or abject. They light up with their passion an exclusive world in which they recognize their climate. There is a universe of jealousy, of ambition, of selfishness, or of generosity. A universe--in other words, a metaphysic and an attitude of mind. p.8

There is thus a lower key of feelings, inaccessible in the heart but partially disclosed by the acts they imply and the attitudes of mind they assume. It is clear that in this way I am defining a method. But it is also evident that that method is one of analysis and not of knowledge. For methods imply metaphysics; unconsciously they disclose conclusions that they often claim not to know yet. Similarly, the last pages of a book are already contained in the first pages. Such a link is inevitable. p.9

Kierkegaard wants to be cured. To be cured is his frenzied wish, and it runs throughout his whole journal. The entire effort of his intelligence is to escape the antinomy of the human condition. An all the more desperate effort since he intermittently perceives its vanity when he speaks of himself, as if neither fear of God nor piety were capable of bringing him to peace. Thus it is that, through a strained subterfuge, he gives the irrational the appearance and God the attributes of the absurd: unjust, incoherent, and incomprehensible. Intelligence alone in him strives to stifle the underlying demands of the human heart. Since nothing is proved, everything can be proved. p. 29

I am told again that here the intelligence must sacrifice its pride and the reason bow down. But if I recognize the limits of reason I do not therefore negate it, recognizing its relative powers. I merely want to remain in this middle path where the intelligence can stay clear. If that is its pride, I see no sufficient reason for giving it up. p. 30

Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. p.31

I am taking the liberty at this point of calling the existential attitude philosophical suicide. But this does not imply a judgement. It is a convenient way of indicating the movement by which a thought negates itself and tends to transcend itself in its very negation. For the existentials negation is their God. To be precise, that god is maintained only through the negation of human reason. But, like suicides, gods change with men. p. 31

[The Absurd Man]

The certainty of a God giving a meaning to life far surpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. The choice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice, and that is where the bitterness comes in. p. 50

A sub-clerk in the post office is the equal of a conqueror if consciousness is common to them. p. 51

Conscious that I cannot stand aloof from my time, I have decided to be an integral part of it. This is why I esteem the individual only because he strikes me as ridiculous and humiliated. Knowing that there are no victorious causes, I have a liking for lost causes: they require an uncontaminated soul, equal to its defeat as to its temporary victories. For anyone who feels bound up with this world's fate, the clash of civilizations has something agonizing about it. I have made that anguish mine at the same time that I wanted to join in. Between history and the eternal I have chosen history because I like certainties. Of it, at least, I am certain, and how can I deny this force crushing me? p. 63,64

[Appendix: Franz Kafka]

The more exciting life is, the more absurd is the idea of losing it. This is perhaps the secret of that proud aridity felt in Nietzsche's work. In this connection, Nietzsche appears to be the only artist to have derived the extreme consequences of an aesthetic of the Absurd, inasmuch as his final message lies in a sterile and conquering lucidity and an obstinate negation of any supernatural consolation. p. 101


Anonymous said...

Brilliant site, I had not come across previously during my searches!
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use part of the information from your post above if I provide a backlink back to your site?


Mike said...

Feel free Peter. Glad to have readers.