Thursday, 7 November 2013

"my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"


"Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"

In Tunisia Willis has already tested the shock opening of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, whether life is worth living as the fundamental question. If the answer is no, then there after all is no reason for any further step in life or philosophy. Nadia Khiari qua Willis deliberately gave an ambiguous answer, but that had direct links to the socio-political circumstances she is addressing. Camus on the other hand found a rather happy conclusion in the pause given to Sisyphus each time his stone is rolling back down where it came from:

"That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock"

Per Marquard Otzen marks the centenary of the birth of Albert Camus with a drawing of three authors/philosophers at work. Drawing Camus, Sartre and Kierkegaard together is a troublesome task in that the two younger ones each defined himself as the antinomy of the other, but Per Marquard Otzen assigns the movement of the composition to the Camus and Kierkegaard busily working in opposite directions, while Sartre is left with the role of caddie:

Per Marquard Otzen: Sisyfos - en lykkelig mand:
Hvordan kan man undgå i Kierkegaards værker at finde tegn på en næsten frivillig lemlæstelse af sjælen?"
skriver Albert Camus i "Sisyfos-myten". Camus ville være fyldt hundrede år i dag" /
Sisyphus - a Happy Man: How can one fail to read in his works
 the signs of an almost intentional mutilation of the soul?
Albert Camus writes in The Myth of Sisyohus. Camus would have been 100 years old today. 

Politiken, November 7, 2013.


And yet Camus is looking back with understanding on his colleague in that The Myth of Sisyphus makes Kierkegaard come alive before us, with all his discrepancies, pseudonyms, opposed writings, trying to come to terms with life, refusing consolation, heading directly towards "his beloved scandals". Words to prove what a great author Camus was. Kierkegaard comes alive as that "Don Juan of the understanding" creating his very own myth of Sisyphus, "an almost intentional mutilation" - almost intentional! - "of the soul for a part of his existence at least". In short "(…) he does more than discover the absurd, he lives it":

"As for that thorn he feels in his heart, he is careful not to quiet its pain. On the contrary, he awakens it and, in the desperate joy of a man crucified and happy to be so, he builds up piece by piece—lucidity, refusal, make-believe—a category of the man possessed." 

And so "Kierkegaard likewise takes the leap". If Sisyphus is the absurd hero to Camus, Kierkegaard is a close second, facing his fears to a degree that Camus can even speak of truth and clarity to life. As he concludes "One must imagine Sisyphus happy".


Oh, and the only detail of the drawing left in white are the flips worn by Kierkegaard. In Danish they were called "Patricides" since they very nearly strangled their wearer.


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