Our Plague…

Everybody is a bit like Sisyphus…

As the first half of the semester advanced, we were more and more anxious about Spring Break.  The suffocating deadlines, papers and readings seemed to progressively drive the whole student body into a study quarantine, as suggested by an earlier convener’s post.  A couple of days ago, I thought about why people cross out calendars; what are they waiting for so anxiously?

This made me think of none other than Albert Camus and his Myth of Sisyphus, which I have alluded a lot in class.  In this essay, Camus explains his philosophy of the absurd, which Moonie hinted at in her post.  Briefly explained, for Camus, there is no meaning to the world, and a man’s life is absurd insofar as he is trying to put together a puzzle of which there are no pieces.  Does this mean that we should then kill ourselves? No, the answer is to embrace the struggle, to rebel against the absurd.  He then invokes the myth of Sisyphus, who has condemned to carry a boulder over a hill only to see it roll down again and again.  His life is the ultimate realization of absurdity.  Camus argue that the only way Sisyphus can defeat his circumstance is by enjoying the task he was set to do, that is his rebellion.

It is true that one way of looking at The Plague is to read is as knowledge about things to do in the event of another outbreak.  It can also be read as an exercise in memory for those who parted.  However, I think there is more to Camus’s novel, and in that effort, the Myth of Sisyphus helps me to illustrate that point.  Oran’s experience of disease is an allegory of our experience of the absurdity in our lives: no one can scape death, and faced with this fate, we have only one option.  We must experience time in its full length.  We must allow “inklings” to infiltrate our routines.  We must try to play saints.  Only then we might conquer the absurd.

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