Camus and Prince Console Me...

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called LIFE.” - Prince

I am between books right now (between deciding what to read, of course), and while trying to remember what I previously wanted to read and scanning book spines on shelves, in closets and cabinets, I pulled out an old copy of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. I am pretty sure I read this back in the ‘80’s or ‘90’s, and I think the markings and underlining* are mine, but I would be hard pressed to tell you anything about it other than the title.

To refresh my memory I start reading, and either I internalized some of it while forgetting the origin or Mr. Camus and I have a lot of the same ideas. You know, great minds think alike!

I see in the first essay essentially the same foundation for the way I feel about our world. Or at least one of my rambling points. That point being, “We want the world to make sense, but it DOESN’T!”

Here is Albert’s version…

“I said the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. The world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity for whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world.”

THAT is my point! I don’t know if it inherent in humans or just a byproduct of evolution that demands we find patterns in the world in order to survive. BUT the desire for clarity is obvious. Just look at most political or economic worldviews, the more strident the conviction their way is right, the clearer it is in their minds.

There is more I find harmony with, this bit where he talks about how the only way to “understand” the world is to diminish it.

“Understanding the world for a man is reducing it to the human, stamping it with his seal…Likewise the mind that aims to understand reality can consider itself satisfied only by reducing it to terms of thought”

I think the key thing is not to denigrate “understanding” and certainly not avoid rejoicing in the understanding that comes from science. But rather the bigger questions of “why are we here?”, “what is it all about?”, “who am I really?”. To claim science gives meaning to these anxieties is to strip the humanity out of these question. BUT of course science can be magical and wonderous and “explain” some part of the universe, but they never help us “understand” how we are supposed to get through this thing called life.


*I never underline or highlight now, and it bugs me when I re-read some old book and see I marked it up.

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