One hundred years of absurdism

7 11 2013

Okay, not really: Camus didn’t begin writing out of the womb.

Still, if Sartre gave us the better line—Hell is other people—and sought to hero-ize our existence, Camus gave us the ache of meaning amidst meaningless-ness. He gave us absurdity.

I’d read The Myth of Sisyphus a couple of times when I was in my self-destructive cups, and, honestly, it didn’t do anything for me. Too much exhortation. Too much hero-izing.

But The Plague, well, that crept in. Yes, there is speechifying, but rather than inflating the speaker, it undercuts him. It is the speech of undoing, of peeling away.

I have realized that we all have the plague, and I have lost my peace. And today I am still trying to find it; still trying to understand all those others and not to be the mortal enemy of anyone. I only know that one must do what one can to cease being plague-stricken, and that’s the only way in which we can hope for some peace, or, failing that, a decent death. This, and only this, can bring relief to men and, if not save them, at least do them the least harm possible and even, sometimes, a little good.

Just so—absurdly so.




4 responses

8 11 2013
9 11 2013

Even when the rain falls relatively hard,
only one leaf at a time of the little tree
you planted on the balcony last year,
then another leaf at its time, and one more,
is set trembling by the constant droplets,

but the rain, the clouds flocked over the city,
you at the piano inside, your hesitant music
mingling with the din of the downpour,
the gush of rivulets loosed from the eaves,
the iron railings and flowing gutters,

all of it fuses in me with such intensity
that I can’t help wondering why my longing
to live forever has so abated that it hardly
comes to me anymore, and never as it did,
as regret for what I might not live to live,

but rather as a layering of instants like this,
transient as the mist drawn from the rooftops,
yet emphatic as any note of the nocturne
you practice, and, the storm faltering, fading
into its own radiant passing, you practice again.

“Droplets” by C.K. Williams

10 11 2013
10 11 2013


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