This post is rather due to a notion that’s been haunting me over the last few weeks, then triggered by real or immediate events. It is rather a summary of what has been on political, cultural and social agendas recently. Let’s start with a nice quote by Heidegger, who noticed that „Human existence cannot have a relationship with being unless it remains in the midst of nothingness.“ So Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it. Nothingness is absurd since we are surrounded by plenty. Although nothingness is very much appreciated by those who dwell inside the online-realms, which are physically non-existent, nothingness, absurd.
I appreciate the absurd for one simple reason – the deny the Newtonian worldview, i.e. it highlights the absence of cause and effect. A fact that renders the absurd quite realistic. Finally, there is a world in which the boundaries of pure reason are blurring away and great significance is replaced by restorative nothingness. The absurd (e.g. Slawomir Mrożek) provides such a welcome anodyne place of futile babbling in contrast to purposeful conversation. The absurd lacks coherence just as much as our/my everyday life does. It is rather the fragmented episodes of life and the nonsensical dialogues, which are not just hilarious and outrageous, but due to their paucity of morality and meaning are also of a rather bewildering quality. In this context the network „Twitter“ comes to mind. Twitter is breaking down the spatial limits connected to the increased (mis-) understanding of the world as common sense and exposes the isolation and the nothingness in our everyday (this is merely one aspect of very many, but still valid in many respects).
My absurd world renders visible the confusion of the era we live in: Shifting paradigms, the rise of (religious) spirituality interfering with western rationalism, political changes, terrorism etc., and all these different influences are leaking into our cultural and social spheres, creating more confusion with every solution or suggestion that brings the individual to another scratch. Evidence of the absurd, i.e. the absence of anything is to be found in the confrontation between our desire for clarity and our realizing of the world’s irrationality. Neither the world nor the human minds are in themselves absurd. Rather, absurdity finds itself in the confrontation between the two. “The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. It binds them one to the other as only hatred can weld two creatures together… The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.” (Camus).
In accordance to this dazed and confused love-hate relationship between man and universe I realize that the absurd will never be heading for any destination. Therefore, the absurd in general signifies my utmost existentialist state: Detached from religious, metaphysical or transcendental roots, I tend to be lost and my actions dissolve into the inept, arbitrary and inadequate. And carrying this absurd logic to its conclusion, I must admit that that struggle implies a total absence of hope (which has nothing to do with despair), a continual rejection (which must not be compared to immature unrest). Everything that destroys, conjures away, or exercises these requirements (and, to begin with, consent which overthrows divorce) ruins the absurd and devaluates the attitude that may then be proposed. The absurd has meaning only in so far as it is not agreed to.
As I have said I have been going through some odd weeks! Much like Camus‘ Sisyphus who, due to his cheating the ancient gods and death itself, is condemned for eternity to roll a stone up a hill, I sometimes seem to be stuck in loopholes inside which I am assigned to pointless tasks – the futility of being. Now, if the world and everything in it are also pointless, the lesson is that the task of Sisyphus is identical to everything that man will ever be doing in life. Man does not differ from Sisyphus; and if his punishment makes the afterlife a hell for him, mankind is already living in that hell. In order to make his fate endurable man decides that his futile fate has to be/must be meaningful. Sisyphus restores the value and purpose that objectively do not exist by an act of will. This decision is what struck people as liberating about Existentialism. To live one’s life, one must exercise the freedom to create a life.
„I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises the rocks. He, too, concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.“ (Camus)