Friday, December 28, 2012

A Breath of Summer

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."--Albert Camus, 1913-1960, Return to Tipasa, 1952.  

Albert Camus was a French "Pied-Noir" (Algerian-born French colonist) author, journalist, philosopher and one of the youngest persons to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as Absurdism. 

I hate it when this happens.  I decide to post a photo which leads me to think of Camus' quote which leads me to read more about Camus (in particular to learn the genesis of the quote) which leads me down the rabbit hole of reading essays on Camus which leads me to a blog  which leads me to this part of the blog post in which the writer (Awais Aftab) observes this about Sisyphus, Camus' hero in the book "The Myth of Sisyphus,":

"Yet, Sisyphus is superior to his fate because he has accepted. He will remain in torment and despair as long as he has hope or dream for something better. But once he has realized that this is what his life is, and what it will remain, and there is nothing better at all to look forward to, he will no longer be tormented by the absurdity of his existence. And this would be the key to his happiness."

And I am struck by the remotest of similarities in my own life as a stroke survivor/victim/casualty.  The remnant of the stroke is my hypertonicity which has left me permanently (?) handicapped.  The question mark is there because, frankly, no one really knows although those with some years of experience with this sort of thing seem to agree that it won't get any better (and certainly from what I've read it could get worse). 

 I am confronted with Camus' philosophy of the Absurd.  Camus was influenced by Søren Kierkegaard who wrote: “What is the Absurd? It is, as may quite easily be seen, that I, a rational being, must act in a case where my reason, my powers of reflection, tell me: you can just as well do the one thing as the other, that is to say where my reason and reflection say: you cannot act and yet here is where I have to act...”(Journals, 1849)  Camus believed that the only reasonable response to a life which is "absurd" is to live in full consciousness of that life.  Which might beg the question, "what then was he thinking when he wrote his famous line about winter and spring?"  It would seem that if you fully live life in all its absurdity finding the spring within you in winter could be regarded as some sort of escape from the absurdity.

Maybe he means that in only by returning to the "spring" (representing hope and newness) of life can we can learn to accept the reality that is our "winter."  He writes also in Return to Tipasa, " I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light." To me it represents the dichotomy in which I find myself:  on the one hand I feel as though I would in general be happier if I just accept my fate and quit believing that it will get better; on the other hand I cannot escape the pull of eternal optimism.

No comments:

Post a Comment