Old Ship | Issue 27 | n+1


If I am tempted toward advice-column heroics by your question — and of course I am: Could I be the one to answer the question of why to live? — Camus cautions me. “One does not discover the absurd,” he writes, “without being tempted to write a manual of happiness.” He insists his book does not recommend a belief or a course of action; it merely describes “an absurd sensitivity that can be found widespread in the age,” an “intellectual malady.” But Camus does approve of some responses to the absurd more than others, which some people I’ve known have managed to adopt as a belief system. Embrace the repetition, get as much life as possible, count it up. Seduce lots of women like Don Juan, whom Camus admires. Write novels that really get at how hopeless the hopelessness is, as Camus himself did. Gather experience without pretending at meaning. There is an appealing intellectual self-sufficiency to this approach, which Camus suggests might even earn one a measure of contentment, as if Sisyphus at the summit, watching the rock roll down the mountain, “concludes that all is well.”

Source: Old Ship | Issue 27 | n+1

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