An Analysis of the Philosophical Essay The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

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Sorrow and joy go hand in hand, as does Sisyphus, as he crowns himself in his defeat. The pendulum between night and day swings, for it is not possible to experience the light without the dark. That being said, there can be joy found in the struggle as you work towards your own purpose. On your journey, as you conclude how all is well, it measures your next step. The struggle on its own was enough for Sisyphus. To find hope in The Myth of Sisyphus, to breathe joy into your own rock, one must picture Sisyphus happy.

Even with the knowledge of the extent of his condition, Sisyphus still found joy. He believed it to be achieving the purpose of fate, to see the top of the mountain, even as the rock rolls back down. Through hard labor, to see the sky for fleeting moments, only to work what seems like ages for that again, is that not life? That happiness, however evanescent, returns as quickly as his torment. That is the period of when consciousness arrives. That period is the breath you exhale before seeing your descent. Therefore Sisyphus knows himself to be the master of his days, the controller of his fate.

Physically, Sisyphus cannot change his fate, yet he wields all the power within his mind. Grief and depression grow from dissatisfaction, as the beginning of our journey calls for success and happiness too insistently. Our mind cries for us to move at a pace faster than we are able, and for that sadness grows. The period of consciousness if turned negative, can turn into a heavy sadness. However patience, even with knowledge of your condition assures your victory. It is what changes your outlook on fate.

It is a balance between both passions and torture as Sisyphus can show you himself. The depending factor being what you choose to focus upon. To have the belief to conclude that all is well, could be a reassurance found delusional. Yet is what hope stems from, the belief that all will be, or could be well. It is what helps us push our own rock.

Sisyphus’ tale is a saddening and terrifying one. Saddening due to sympathy for his fate, and terrifying for both how terrible it is, and how similar it can be to our daily existences. Camus tells us his punishment of eternal rock-pushing is administered because of his absurd attempts to evade the gods, his consequences, and his death, as well as his absurd attempt to have a purpose. His punishment mirrors his life; he caused himself a lot of trouble in avoiding the gods’ desires, and it was all pointless in the end. Sisyphus pushing the rock upwards is a very long process, culminated in it tumbling back to square one.

The real unpleasantness of this scenario is that he is fully aware he has no choice but to do the cycle over and over. Sisyphus is a living cog in a dead machine, to use a fancy metaphor, during the time of his punishment. If Sisyphus were unconscious of his motions, or if he were able to feel what was happening, but not care, it wouldn’t be a tragedy. What makes a tragedy is someone doing something they don’t want to do.

That being said, I may know some people that would be envious of the doomed mortal. Sisyphus’ existence is constant, unchanging, and secure. Constant and unchanging, because the rock always rolls down the same way, and secure, because nobody is going to take this role away from him. I can see the appeal of his punishment, because there is no need to worry about tomorrow, and no need to think about anything other than the rock. The ability to submit to the physical labor and revoke thinking is one of the ways I mentioned above to stop this from being a tragedy, also.

I suppose part of the absurdity in Camus’ thoughts of Sisyphus and the meaning in his punishment comes from mankind’s dual desire for a overarching purpose and for personal freedom, and the exclusivity of the two. With a universal purpose, every man’s actions must reflect it, and we lose the ability to choose to not reflect the purpose.

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An Analysis of the Philosophical Essay The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. (2023, May 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/an-analysis-of-the-philosophical-essay-the-myth-of-sisyphus-by-albert-camus/

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