Camus’s Paradox Jameson Long Camus’s Paradox



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Camus’s Paradox

  • Jameson Long

Camus’s Paradox

  • Jameson Long

I have seen the same actor a hundred times, I shall not for that reason know him any better personally. Yet if I add up the heroes he has personified and if I say that I know him a little better at the hundredth character counted off, this will be felt to contain an element of truth…I am defining a method. But it is also evident that that method is one of analysis and not of knowledge…Similarly, the last pages of a book are contained in the first pages”(11)

Born in 1913 to Lucien Camus and Catherine Helene Sintes Albert Camus grew up in colonial Mondovi, Algeria. Though his family were second generation colonist from France the mother land was always very far for Camus giving him an identity with the pied-noir creating an alienation that many French Algerian's felt , Algeria was also the main setting for many of Camus’s writing.

Algeria 1830-1962

  • Under French rule through colonization
  • Algerian’s were forced away from the coast, were the French took up residence.
  • The population of French colonist was only 13% of the total population.
  • The local Arabian people were not allowed to vote.
  • They were treated as subhuman.

Greek Philosophy

  • Camus’s primary interest growing up was literature.
  • ÉHis love for words eventually got him his d’Études Superieures (M.A.) by writing his thesis on Plotinus (1936) .
  • - Platonism: Comes from the teachings of Plato, heavy influence on
  • western thought .
  • - Metaphysics: concerned issues on the mind, soul, and reality.
  • - Mysticism: The basic goal of this was to find a connection with the
  • ultimate meaning of reality.

Enlightenment

  • Camus’s rocky up bringing brought rise to confusion and questioning.
  • These frustrations and Greek philosophy influences lead to Camus’s description of the Absurd.
  • -Though Camus wasn’t the first to describe the absurd most people credit him with it, often referring to his descriptions as the paradox of the absurd.
  • - Some books describing Camus’s absurd are The Stranger, and The Myth of Sisyphus.
  • **Camus’s absurd is hard to explain because instead of defining the term he was more interested in how people dealt with it, because to him the realization of the absurd was the first step to understanding.

Absurd

  • ab·surd (əb-’sərd): The effort of humanity to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail because no meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-4XKOv_Z4Q

əb-’sərd

  • Camus considers the absurd a realization the reason for thought and discovery (he also considers it infectious after discovering it).
  • Camus’s study of the absurd wasn’t meant for an explanation of it, the source of the sensation, or even a definition; he was more interested in how the absurd was dealt with. He describes the sensation as an emotion, like happiness and sadness the absurd is separate from the physical world. Such as happiness and sadness the absurd can generally be described through words for communication purposes, their actual meanings are deeply rooted on a personal level for each person.

The Absurd Stranger

  • Camus uses examples of the absurd in his 1942 novel The Stranger written during German occupation in France. The book is about a clerk named Marsault who is very honest with his opinions and making him up front with what he stands for (this makes him disliked by his society). Shortly into the story Marsault kills a man but is told by his lawyer he’ll get off if he answers the questions in court how his attorney tells him to.
  • -He can’t this when he is asked “do you feel remorse”
  • -He answers “no”; of course this makes him look
  • even worse, though if he lied and said yes would
  • that make him less guilty?

The Myth of Sisyphus

  • Camus used the Greek myth to personify his example of the absurd to show humanities hopeless search for meaning in an inhuman world. He depicts Sisyphus as continuously rolling his rock up the mountain only to have it roll back to the bottom and start all over again. It was this myth that Camus found a similarity to “highway workers” continuing their labor day after day with no end to the work. He relates this theme to humanity continuously working day after day but for what? What can be accomplished by going to work or even going to school when eventually we all die, Camus saw this as a positive position because this is what ultimately gives us meaning. This idea for Camus made him state that we must imagine Sisyphus as happy because he has a purpose and continually pursues it by pushing the boulder up the mountain for eternity. This book was broken down into four parts: An absurd reasoning, the absurd man, absurd creation, and the myth of Sisyphus.

The Myth of Sisyphus

  • Absurd reasoning: This concept is based around societies desire of hope for tomorrow (putting things off) with each passing day these delays bring us closer to our demise “people live as if they don’t know about the uncertainty of death”
  • It is not the world or human thought that is absurd it is when human need to understand our purpose in the world (reality) an unreasonableness is reached and our surroundings suddenly become foreign. To Camus ”Taking the absurd seriously means acknowledging the contradiction between the desire of human reason and the unreasonable world. Suicide, then, also must be rejected: without man, the absurd cannot exist. The contradiction must be lived; reason and its limits must be acknowledged, without hope. However, the absurd can never be accepted: it requires constant confrontation”

Works Cited

  • Bree, Germaine Camus A Collection of Critical essays, 1962 Englewood Cliff, NJ Prentice Hall Inc.
  • Camus, Albert The Fall and Exile and the kingdom, Random house Inc., Toronto, Canada 1972.
  • Camus, Albert The Myth of Sisyphus and other Essays 1969 Seventh Printing.
  • Camus, Albert The Rebel; An Essay on Man in Revolt, Alfred A. Knopf New York, 1967.
  • https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ag.html, CIA world fact book describes the background of a country or region going into detail depicting economy, military, geography, and social aspects.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-4XKOv_Z4Q: video of the absurd taken from youtube.com originally from The Twilight Zone.
  • Vonnougut

An author famous for his explanation of the absurd a word supplying infinate truths and infinite falses, never completely true of false. At the end of my research I find I’m in the same position as I was in the beginning staring at a portrait of a man, knowing everything that he stood for, but knowing nothing about who he was. Camus’s quest for the absurd was based upon how people dealt with it, because to him no matter who you are as soon as your born you begin to die and that realization makes one understand the unreasonablness in grasping the meaning of the world. Though a morbid statement this is a truth we all need to accept, to Camus societ was structured to almost allude the fact that death was inevitable because how could happiness be possible if the feeling will ultimatly sease to the shackles of mortality. Camus’s example of an absurd paradox of life asks is it possible to have a greatly valued life, but think life is meaningless? Thoug we value our lives and think them meaningful, we still know we will die, making our accomplishments ultimetly meaninless. I onced wondered what made Camus think the way he did about life, the huge void he felt with every day life. The monotonous would day in and day out, the absurdity of suicide and the absurdity of living. I once thought that it had to be connected with his up bringing in the politically torn Algeria the fcat that he identified with the peid-noir but also with the French government. This alianation and division of loyalty must be the source for his frustration and pessimistic out look of lifebut I was wrong. Camus was better off than moust people becaseu he wasn’t afraid to to face the fact that everyone does die and individual existance is a momontary passing. In the end everyone is forgotten, rivalries of the day pass, wars end, thoughts fade away. We are all the same essentiallly, we’re all thrust into the same boat floating in the infinate sea of our universe. I know I did not ask to be born so I wonder who can I ask for the rules to this world? What am I to do? How do I know when I’ve done enough? These questions have slowly been pushed to the bottom of the priority list and have had walls of assurance built in front of them creating a closure or home for humanity to live. Camus reconized this and accepted it, this is what he called consciousness. This consciousness to Camus is what keeps Sisyphus a victor over his punishment because it is his love of life on earth that has condemed him to “ the unspeakable penalty in which the whole being in exerted toward accomplishing nothing”(120). Though Camus points out it is in Sisyphus’s decend to his rock that he is the victor for unlike the rock that just rolls back to the bottom he has consciousness “he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock”(121), which according to the fictional author Kilgore Trout is the most presiouse asset to life “physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is human awarness”(243 Vonnegut). And that is precisely what Camus implies the only things that exist are the only thinkgs that we’re aware of to over look the factor of death, and our limitations (thinking of ourselves as superior beings). This is not only unwise but also inhuman. Awarness is a human factor and without it nothing would exist. And in honor of Camus we have ended with the beginning.

  • An author famous for his explanation of the absurd a word supplying infinate truths and infinite falses, never completely true of false. At the end of my research I find I’m in the same position as I was in the beginning staring at a portrait of a man, knowing everything that he stood for, but knowing nothing about who he was. Camus’s quest for the absurd was based upon how people dealt with it, because to him no matter who you are as soon as your born you begin to die and that realization makes one understand the unreasonablness in grasping the meaning of the world. Though a morbid statement this is a truth we all need to accept, to Camus societ was structured to almost allude the fact that death was inevitable because how could happiness be possible if the feeling will ultimatly sease to the shackles of mortality. Camus’s example of an absurd paradox of life asks is it possible to have a greatly valued life, but think life is meaningless? Thoug we value our lives and think them meaningful, we still know we will die, making our accomplishments ultimetly meaninless. I onced wondered what made Camus think the way he did about life, the huge void he felt with every day life. The monotonous would day in and day out, the absurdity of suicide and the absurdity of living. I once thought that it had to be connected with his up bringing in the politically torn Algeria the fcat that he identified with the peid-noir but also with the French government. This alianation and division of loyalty must be the source for his frustration and pessimistic out look of lifebut I was wrong. Camus was better off than moust people becaseu he wasn’t afraid to to face the fact that everyone does die and individual existance is a momontary passing. In the end everyone is forgotten, rivalries of the day pass, wars end, thoughts fade away. We are all the same essentiallly, we’re all thrust into the same boat floating in the infinate sea of our universe. I know I did not ask to be born so I wonder who can I ask for the rules to this world? What am I to do? How do I know when I’ve done enough? These questions have slowly been pushed to the bottom of the priority list and have had walls of assurance built in front of them creating a closure or home for humanity to live. Camus reconized this and accepted it, this is what he called consciousness. This consciousness to Camus is what keeps Sisyphus a victor over his punishment because it is his love of life on earth that has condemed him to “ the unspeakable penalty in which the whole being in exerted toward accomplishing nothing”(120). Though Camus points out it is in Sisyphus’s decend to his rock that he is the victor for unlike the rock that just rolls back to the bottom he has consciousness “he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock”(121), which according to the fictional author Kilgore Trout is the most presiouse asset to life “physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is human awarness”(243 Vonnegut). And that is precisely what Camus implies the only things that exist are the only thinkgs that we’re aware of to over look the factor of death, and our limitations (thinking of ourselves as superior beings). This is not only unwise but also inhuman. Awarness is a human factor and without it nothing would exist. And in honor of Camus we have ended with the beginning.

An author famous for his explanation of the absurd, a word which supplies infinite truths and infinite falsies, never completely true or false. At the end of my research I find I’m in the same position as I was in the beginning staring at a portrait of a man, knowing everything that he stood for, but knowing nothing about who he was. Camus’s quest for the absurd was based upon how people dealt with it, because to him no matter who you are as soon as your born you begin to die and that realization makes one understand the unreasonableness in grasping the meaning of the reality. Though a morbid statement this is a truth we all need to accept, to Camus society was structured to almost allude the fact that death was inevitable because how could happiness be possible if the feeling will ultimately cease to the shackles of mortality. Camus’s example of an absurd paradox (of life) asks is it possible to have a greatly valued life, but think life is meaningless? Though we value our lives and think them meaningful, we still know we will die, making our accomplishments ultimately meaningless. I once wondered what made Camus think the way he did about life, the huge void of knowledge he felt with every day life. The monotonous would day in and day out, the absurdity of suicide and the absurdity of living. I once thought that it had to be connected with his up bringing in the politically torn Algeria the fact that he identified with the peid-noir but also with the French government. This alienation and division of loyalty must be the source for his frustration and pessimistic out look of life, but I was wrong. Camus was better off than most people because he wasn’t afraid to face the fact that everyone does die and individual existence is a momentary passing. In the end everyone is forgotten, rivalries of the day pass, wars end, thoughts fade away. We are all the same essentially. We’re all thrust into the same boat floating in the infinite sea of our universe. I know I did not ask to be born so I wonder who can I ask for the rules to this world. What am I to do? How do I know when I’ve done enough? These questions have slowly been pushed to the bottom of the priority list and have had walls of assurance built in front of them creating a closure or home for humanity to live. Camus recognized this and accepted it, this is what he called consciousness. This consciousness to Camus is what keeps Sisyphus a victor over his punishment because it is his love of life on earth that has condemned him to “ the unspeakable penalty in which the whole being in exerted toward accomplishing nothing”(120). Though Camus points out it is in Sisyphus’s descend to his rock that he is the victor for unlike the rock that just rolls back to the bottom he has consciousness “he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock”(121), which according to the fictional author Kilgore Trout is the most precious asset to life “physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is human awareness”(243 Vonnegut). And that is precisely what Camus implies the only things that exist are the only things that we’re aware of; to over look the factor of death, and our limitations (thinking of ourselves as superior beings) is not only unwise but also inhuman. Awareness is a human factor and without it nothing would exist. And in honor of Camus we have ended with the beginning.



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