Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

Sisyphus, Atlas, and I–tragic heros indeed.

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

“It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.”

Excerpted from The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus (trans. Justin O’Brien)

While I agree with the initial analysis of the situation, I do not agree with Camus’s conclusions that “The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory” and “There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.”

Selected “Fragments” by Michael Maynard Slingerland

Friday, December 19th, 2003

I decided to peruse my bookshelf last night while unable to sleep, and I found an old book of poetry that I had purchased long ago from a Kanawha County Libraries book sale. I decided to read through it, and much to my surprise I discovered that I could identify greatly with a number of the poems. I have decided to share them here, so without any further ado:

Selected “Fragments” by Michael Maynard Slingerland

Some thoughts on being square

Sunday, December 7th, 2003

Sydney Smith (1771–1845), a witty parson, writes the following in his Sketches of Moral Philosophy:
If you choose to represent the various parts in life by holes upon a table, of different shapes—some circular, some triangular, some square, some oblong—and the persons acting these parts by bits of wood of similar shapes, we shall generally find that the triangular person has got into the square hole, the oblong into the triangular, and a square person has squeezed himself into the round hole. The officer and the office, the doer and the thing done, seldom fit so exactly that we can say they were almost made for each other.

To which Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) contributes:
A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.

But to which I reflect:
If we look back, we find that the triangular person is to blame for the square person’s having to squeeze into the round hole. I resent having to change in order to find my place in life and (most likely uncomfortably) fit in.

Required Reading

Sunday, December 7th, 2003

The following transcriptions were taken from two of the books that my class was required to read for Geology 103 with the illustrious Dick Smosna. The passages really stood out to me as I read them, and so I wanted to record and share them, especially since I will be selling the books back to the bookstore shortly (and only receiving 50% of what I paid for them so that the bookstore can resell them in January for 150% of what they bought them back from me for).