May 4, 2024

Sisyphus and me

Don't worry it's alright eternal struggle is okay...

Sisyphus and me
Photo by Zoltan Tasi / Unsplash
Be afraid | Trident 2 d5 launching from a Vanguard submarine image public domain from Wikipedia p​

philosphy corner

my long telegram

I think everyone thinks about the human condition, many ask the question are we alone in the universe? Perhaps we cannot face the reality that we are alone in the obsidian sky. Alone on the third rock from the sun.

During the 1960s a rather unusual group of people started the Aetherius Society, one of many groups that were started hoping that beings from the cosmos would rescue us from the apocalypse of nuclear warfare. Many cling on to the hope that we will be delivered from evil and hate by aliens from the stars.

Perhaps the truth is that life really has no purpose other than to exist? If we look at the Myth of Sisyphus it is an interesting myth that basically stated:

that Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, was known for his cleverness and deceitfulness. In his life, he repeatedly tricked the gods, showing a kind of hubris or extreme pride that was offensive to them. As a punishment for his defiance, the gods condemned Sisyphus to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down each time it neared the top, repeating this cycle endlessly for eternity. So symbolically the endless labor of Sisyphus, a task that is perpetually uncompleted, is symbolic of fundamental aspects of the human condition, especially the pursuit of seemingly futile tasks.

Depressed yet? Well I have just got started so assume a maudlin demeanor.

So enter Albert Camus. Camus uses the story of Sisyphus as a primary symbol of "the absurd" – a concept describing the conflict between humans' desire to find inherent meaning in life and the silent, indifferent universe that offers none. Camus' conclusion in his book The Myth of Sisyphus is that despite the absurdity of his condition, Sisyphus can be seen as a hero. Why? Because he continues his task with full awareness of its futility. Camus famously concludes that "one must imagine Sisyphus happy" as he embraces his struggle without appeal to a higher meaning or purpose.

Camus was an Existentialist and if we look at it from their perspective then the myth resonates with existential themes of freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness. It illustrates the idea that life can sometimes feel repetitive, monotonous, and devoid of purpose. Sisyphus’s endless task is an act of rebellion against the absurdity of existence. By finding joy or acceptance in his fate, he asserts his existence and personal meaning in the face of an uncaring universe.

So how is this relevant to today? The Sisyphean task is analogous to modern existential and societal dilemmas where individuals might feel that their daily routines are as futile as rolling a boulder uphill. It reflects on the human spirit's resilience in the face of repetitive, unending tasks that seem to have little apparent value or end. Despite its seemingly bleak outlook, the myth encourages a form of philosophical optimism. It suggests that personal meaning can be created by embracing the struggle itself and finding satisfaction in the journey, regardless of its outcome.

The Myth of Sisyphus challenges us to think about the nature of happiness, purpose, and existence in a world where the quest for meaning might seem inherently futile. It promotes a defiant attitude towards absurdity, encouraging an embrace of life's challenges and an acceptance of the struggle as integral to human existence. Through this myth, philosophy provides a lens to examine not only the nature of punishment and reward but also the deeper questions about how we construct meaning in our lives.

As we face potential Armageddon and we face a struggle, all must embrace the challenges to our collective existence and nullify the threat faced. Be joyful in the absurdity of our existence.

Aetherius Society - Wikipedia
Albert Camus - Wikipedia