and realize there was a really disturbing discussion going on (like say, for instance, oh I don’t know, PUBIC HAIR BASKET WEAVING) and just want to turn around and walk out but you couldn’t move, you were just frozen like a deer in the headlights?
We must despair of ever reconstructing the familiar, calm surface which would give us peace of heart. After so many centuries of inquiries, so many abdications among thinkers, we are well aware that this is true for all our knowledge….
Of whom and of what indeed I can say: “I know that!” This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends my knowledge, and the rest is construction. For if I try to seize the self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up. This very heart which is mine will forever remain indefinable to me. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give to that assurance, the gap will never be filled. Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but no truth….
And here are trees and I know their gnarled surface, water and I feel its taste. These scents of grass and stars at night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes—how shall I negate this world whose power and strength I feel? Yet all the knowledge on earth will give me nothing to assure me that this world is mine. You describe it to me and you teach me to classify it. You enumerate its laws and in my thirst for knowledge I admit that they are true. You take apart its mechanism and my hope increases. At the final stage you teach me that this wondrous and multi-colored universe can be reduced to the atom and that the atom itself can be reduced to the electron. All this is good and I wait for you to continue. But you tell me of an invisible planetary system in which electrons gravitate around a nucleus. You explain this world to me with an image. I realize then that you have been reduced to poetry: I shall never know. Have I the time to become indignant? You have already changed theories. So that science that was to teach me everything ends up in a hypothesis, that lucidity founders in metaphor, that uncertainty is resolved in a work of art. What need had I of so many efforts? The soft lines of these hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart teach me much more. I have returned to my beginning. I realize that if through science I can seize phenomena and enumerate them, I cannot, for all that, apprehend the world. Were I to trace its entire relief with my finger, I should not know any more. And you give me the choice between a description that is sure but that teaches me nothing and hypotheses that claim to teach me but that are not sure. A stranger to myself and to the world, armed solely with a thought that negates itself as soon as it asserts, what is this condition in which I can have peace only by refusing to know and to live, in which the appetite for conquest bumps into walls that defy its assaults? To will is to stir up paradoxes….
….I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart.
Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, transl. Justin O’Brien (Vintage, 1955), 14-16. Originally published 1942.
If you read this all the way through, congratulations on your attention span; I trust you were rewarded. This is the centerpiece of what may be the most lyrical, deeply personal passage Camus ever penned, and it’s one of my favorite things in all of literature. It is the young Camus at his most earnest and poetic; the Camus of Sisyphus and other early works can be a bit too Romantic and a bit too adamant, but here he gets the balance right, and is movingly sympathetic. The pithy critique of rationalism, of scientism and scientistic philosophy is on par with anything in Nietzsche or Kierkegaard. Camus’ particular definition of the absurd, which lies at the heart of his thinking, is here in germ: absurdity lies not the senselessness of the world, but the contrast between that and the stubborn human desire for order, ultimate meaning, immortality. To will is to stir up paradoxes…
I hate to be told that this is not how the biblical events could have happened. Since the story itself is far from being a reliable record of events, we should be allowed to fill the gaps with whatever works to make the story more epic.
Jesus was a zombie, and he rode a fucking dinosaur, people.
If this was how the story looked like the first time I heard it, I might have just grown up to be religious.
In 516 BCE Jerusalem, the Jewish people completed construction of the Second Temple — a replacement for the aptly named First Temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians.
The Second Temple was later also destroyed.
— Okay, I’ve got some great plans. — Plans for what? — A new temple! — Really? Another one? I thought we kind of agreed that two would be the limit. — I know, I know, but how can we not shoot for three? — Because the temples we make keep getting destroyed. It is extremely unfulfilling. — Well what are we meant to do with no temple? — It’s not like we don’t have any temple at all… I mean, there’s still a bit of wall left. — That wall is doing nothing but make people sad. — What if we make that a feature of the wall? “Come to the wall, and be really, really sad.” — You think that’s a better plan than building another temple? — Hey, I’m not saying we never build another temple. We should just wait a while. — ‘Til when? — How about when the Messiah comes? — You mean Jesus? — No, the real Messiah. — Oh, right, right. Well, when will he be here? — Soon, I bet. Really, really soon. Construction has yet to begin on a Third Temple.
"Come to the wall and be really, really sad". I like it.