Seriously Absurd – A Very Brief Note

Speaking of absurd, it was a little grandiose of me to think that, on Thanksgiving Day, with all the rigamarole that accompanies it, I could compose even a partial discourse about the absurd. Seriously…

So here are some short notes:

At the beginning of The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus says, “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. … So it is with absurdity. The absurd world more than others derives its nobility from that abject birth.” [1] When I think about this, several things come to mind.

First, let’s suppose that a thousand mile journey by foot is a great deed. It certainly does seem to be ridiculous to think of walking one thousand miles, but the Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu observed, “‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. The intent of the statement seems fairly clear. Simply stated, no matter how large the task, no matter how far, how big, how insurmountable something seems, it all starts with just one step.” [2] Thus, the ridiculous proposal potentially ends in a great deed.

The above thought was from me, as a straight man.

The other thought that occurred to me was from my absurd self. Evelyn Waugh had the following thoughts about sex: “The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” This quote “…is sometimes attributed to Lord Chesterfield (British statesman, diplomat and wit, 1694-1773), but has not been found in his works.” [3] I’ll never forget the reaction of one of the family youngsters when she found out about sex. She had a mouth full of water right when her mother answered her somewhat exasperated question, “But how does the sperm get there?” She was so astounded when her mother told her, that she spit the water all over the place. Ridiculous indeed.

Plumbing the depths

Alas, I am not prepared to plumb the depths of absurdity at this juncture. However, it is a very serious issue. When I am through plowing through the rather dense text of The Myth of Sisyphus, I hope to have the answer that Camus promises in his introductory remarks: “The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.” [4]

[1] Camus, A. The Myth of Sisyphus translated by J. O’Brien, New York: Vintage Press (1983) pg 13


[4] Camus, A. The Myth of Sisyphus translated by J. O’Brien, New York: Vintage Press (1983) pg 6


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