“Is one going to die, escape by the leap, rebuild a mansion of ideas and forms to one’s own scale? Is one, on the contrary, going to take up the heart-rending and marvelous wager of the absurd?”
So writes Camus in Absurd Freedom, a small section in the book The Myth of Sisyphus (thank you J. Swift!). As near as I can tell, in this section Camus argues against the constructs we use to try to define, understand, render meaning to, and ultimately constrain life – our “bureaucracy of mind and heart” which, regardless of our desperate efforts, do not write us a blank cheque on eternity…
Instead, he argues that dying unreconciled and not of one’s own free will is essential – – as, “life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning”.
Yes, you heard that right! To continue to live with impunity and abandon in the great unknowable shadow of absurdity is the ultimate revolt against oblivion!
(Or, as per The Slow Room…)
P.S. On a tangential note, this got me to thinking about how we tell stories.. with beginning, middle, and end, and especially through endorsing satisfactory resolution of all introduced threads. It’s no wonder we struggle with accepting the non-reconciliation of our own lives, given we are taught that good stories should always have closure as well as karmic balance.
I’ve been chewing on this one all day. Krishnamurti, I feel, takes it a step further:
“We realize that life is ugly, painful, sorrowful; we want some kind of theory, some kind of speculation or satisfaction, some kind of doctrine, which will explain all this, and so we are caught in explanation, in words, in theories, and gradually, beliefs become deeply rooted and unshakable because behind those beliefs, behind those dogmas, there is the constant fear of the unknown. But we never look at that fear; we turn away from it. The stronger the beliefs, the stronger the dogmas. And when we examine these beliefs the Christian, the Hindu, the Buddhist we find that they divide people. Each dogma, each belief has a series of rituals, a series of compulsions which bind man and separate man. So, we start with an inquiry to find out what is true, what the significance is of this misery, this struggle, this pain; and we are soon caught up in beliefs, in rituals, in theories.Belief is corruption because, behind belief and morality lurks the mind, the self the self growing big, powerful and strong. We consider belief in God, the belief in something, as religion. We consider that to believe is to be religious. You understand? If you do not believe, you will be considered an atheist, you will be condemned by society. One society will condemn those who believe in God, and another society will condemn those who do not. They are both the same. So, religion becomes a matter of belief and belief acts and has a corresponding influence on the mind; the mind then can never be free. But it is only in freedom that you can find out what is true, what is God, not through any belief, because your very belief projects what you think ought to be God, what you think ought to be true.
– J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
The journey to release our selves from our indoctrination, our dogmas and rituals (of being a bat). A long road that can be isolating and invite scorn and even violence.
Worth it though…
Hi John, what a great quote from Krishnamurti. He does take it a step further with his deep insight into the basis of conflict. This makes me think again about the Nagel Bat/Venn diagram debate (as you allude to) about the impossibility of truly understanding anothers experience.. it feels like there is some kind of connection there, where the latter is perhaps a seemingly insurmountable physical constraint and the former an abstract/intellectual one, yet one with possibilities.
Ah, to be a bat among bats. 🙂