August And Everything After
Since the writing of my last blog post I've read moving literature, watched riveting TV shows and movies, and found great music I had not heard before. A quiet July in Madison has also provided me with a lot of space and time to think deeply on what I've read, watched, and listened to. Many days I sat down in front of this computer with the intention of writing on one of these things. Each time I would wrestle with myself for a while until I would convince myself that the ideas I had to write about were not deep or interesting enough to publish. I don't think I'm past that conclusion yet, but what good is a blog if you don't use it? I pay ten hard earned dollars a year for this domain.
Camus, Sisyphus, and Absurdity
Camus's writing is immensely daring and frightening. Most importantly it is inspiring and liberating. After being convinced of grave ideas such as life having no meaning and only tending towards death one is left in a desperate state. Though seemingly stripped of all meaning and purpose at this point, one can still choose how to respond to this revelation. From this apparent Nihilism one would be inclined to choose apathy and despair. Camus's idea of Absurdism invites us to reach beyond that. "The absence of hope does not imply despair". If life has no meaning, no hope, then we are left to forge that meaning for ourselves. Suddenly there are no bounds to what we can do. One step further, there is now every reason to refuse to let oneself be consumed by despair and dare to create in the face of it. Invite toil and challenges to fill one's heart. This is Camus's gift to humanity. The Myth of Sisyphus is a hand reaching down to one in despair, providing them with a lucid invitation to rebel and create in the midst of the desert. "One must imagine Sisyphus happy". No other ending to a piece of literature has ever incited me as much.
Reversing The Curse and The Will
Everyone in their life experiences vices and addictions. It's more concerning if one never does. Recently I was listening to someone on a podcast. This person has endured a long life filled with both immense success and tragedy. In their twenties they went through an intense drug addiction, though have since recovered and have been clean for many years since. What struck me deeply about this person was that they said that they did not want to white-knuckle their sobriety. They only wanted to do it if they could fully remove the desire for drugs from the depths of their psyche. Completely realign the will. They never wanted to think about it again. And this person did just that, saying they haven't even thought about consuming drugs in decades. You see I had always viewed fighting vices and addictions as a purely white-knuckle battle. Not only had I subscribed to the idea of waking up every day to indefinitely wrestle with oneself over the vice and letting the fight consume the psyche, but I had viewed it as a virtuous endeavor. There is nobility in that endeavor but I now realize that it is not the wisest course of action in fighting vices and addictions that inevitably assail us. Indeed we should instead commit to a much more noble and immensely difficult endeavor, that of realigning the will. The nobility in this comes from that it can only be done through deep introspection, repentance, and a genuine desire to refine oneself on the most basic level. On the other side of this daunting toil is an immense freedom and peace from the past desires that white-knuckling could never provide. I'm convinced that we all wake up every day wishing we could do away with a vice, addiction, or lack of something (exercising, reading, etc.). More importantly though I also deeply believe that we all have the ability to introspect, reflect, and reorient the will. This may just be the most important, yet seldomly used ability that we all posses.
I have other ideas from things I've consumed lately that I'd like to write about. To do so I must become more comfortable with publishing unperfected, shorter blogs. I hope this one is a step towards just that.
Now you look a few blog posts back and scoff, pointing out that I had previously written in favor of literature by Dante which is diametrically opposed to that of Camus. The former is middle-aged Catholicism while the latter champions 20th century atheism. To that, dear reader (and I know there is at least one of you out there), I say that evaluating the strengths of different philosophies and what they provide to those who subscribe to them is no sin nor hypocritical action. If this answer is not satisfactory I invite you to start your own blog explaining why, which I will gladly read.