― Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays
Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology
“Albert Camus’ ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’: I first came across that book in the year between high school and college. I pulled it from the library shelf thinking it was going to be a book on mythology and discovered, of course, that it is a philosophical treatise, which I immediately felt a strong affinity to. Of course I didn’t understand most of it when I first read it. I took it with me to college and basically read it over and over again right through college until I felt I understood it, through the process of absorption. It greatly influenced me.
“My very first book was a novel, called ‘The Children of Sisyphus,’ and it was about the poverty and utter despair of the people who live in the shantytowns of Kingston. I had decided that what I was learning, what I was experiencing, was best expressed in terms of a novel. All through that time, what strikes you most living in or visiting this extreme poverty is the whole question of what makes life meaningful for these people, which in a way is the central question that motivated Camus. The shades of not just despair but the kinds of existential angst that he is going through. What makes life meaningful? How can one survive? People living on the dung heap, who live off the trash and the refuse of the rest of the city, where do they find meaning?
“That theme of meaning and meaningless resonated with me, and it carried through to higher levels as I moved from Jamaica to Britain and also to other works by Camus. In many ways, his ideas remained with me not in the sense that I return to him any more, but in the sense that he formed the initial foundation of my thinking. I think I moved on, but he was the right philosopher and the right novelist for me at the time.”
"Travailler et créer 'pour rien', sculpter dans l'argile, savoir que sa création n'a pas d'avenir, voir son oeuvre détruite en un jour en étant conscient que, profondément, cela n'a pas plus d'importance que de bâtir pour des siècles, c'est la sagesse difficile que la pensée absurde autorise. Mener de front ces deux tâches, nier d'un côté et exalter de l'autre, c'est la voie qui s'ouvre au créateur absurde. Il doit donner au vide ses couleurs".
Albert Camus, "Le Mythe de Sisyphe", 1942
Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus", 1942
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