It’s not a matter of fate, it’s just a question of time, and we all fall down (pt. 2)

5 01 2018

Cont.

23. The ever-present dread: your struggles only matter once you’ve overcome them.

24. Camus, of course, reminded us both that the struggle doesn’t matter and that the struggle is life; there is no overcoming.

25. My struggle is that I’m not struggling: I’ve given up.

26. Of course, Camus might say there is no giving up, either: to live is struggle, to struggle is to live.

27. Of course, Camus is dead.

28. Well. I’m struggling with my struggle, which is nifty meta way to avoid engagement, which was Camus’s real point.

29. It’s not that you can’t contemplate the boulder or wonder about the plague: it’s that you can’t just contemplate the boulder or wonder about the plague. At some point you have to move.

30. That’s where I am, slightly suspended, barely moving.

31. This is my struggle-not struggle—with myself. And that’s what Camus wrote about, the assertion of the self in an indifferent world.

32. But what of this assertion in a mean world? What if it’s not just the boulder and gravity? What if someone or something is trying to crush you?

33. Kelly Stout, who wrote that line quoted in #23, also quoted Zadie Smith: I remember there was always a girl with a secret, with something furtive and broken in her, . . . I often thought I saw her again, this girl who lives everywhere and at all times in history, who is sweeping the yard or pouring out tea or carrying somebody else’s baby on her hip and looking over at you with a secret she can’t tell.

34. The secret she can’t tell: the harm and the hurt, inflicted. Not indifference; malevolence.

35.There are (at least) two struggles, then, which I’ve been collapsing into one: with gravity (too much and not enough), and with all that wouldn’t mind crushing us.

To be continued.

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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.