Imagine Sisyphus Slinkying

Our guest columnist is Albert Camus.

One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. “What!—by such narrow ways—?” There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd. Discovery. It happens as well that the felling of the absurd springs from happiness. “I conclude that all is well,” says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men…

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 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 toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

55 comments:

8:01 am • Thursday • May 24, 2012

For some reason, my brain shuts down when trying to read and interpret a philosopher’s writings. For that reason, I’ll just say that the video would have worked better with that Inception music.

12:33 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@matador1015: You’re forgiven. Philosophy has to be read by the inch, on paper, with coffee — and this isn’t even formal philosophy, just a Famous Essay I excerpted to explain the title reference, which was really just an excuse to run a long slinky video.

But I agree: Everything goes better with Inception. I’ve put the soundtrack on my Amazon wish list.

12:47 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: Someone is finally about to declare a major. Comp Sci. Minor…philosphy. <– See? I can't even spell the thing.

Damn you! He's inscrutable as it is.

12:53 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: Interesting combo. And, as a practical matter, not absurd: Both require an enormous amount of anal-retentiveness.

Philosophy would have been worthless to me as an undergrad — I distinctly remember ridiculing it in the dorms. But my first year of grad school was sheer boot camp, and the intellectual discipline I learned there remains enormously useful for geeking.

Plus, y’know, if you’re going into philosophy, it helps to learn a trade. You still have to pay the rent.

1:03 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: Strong career advice: Learn how to program an iPhone.

Or, in specific terms: Learn Objective-C using Xcode to program iOS devices. I still haven’t nailed it (although I’ve been cheating with Lua), mainly because clients keep paying my rent with conventional Web projects. (Hello, PHP/MySQL/jQuery!)

There’s a steep learning curve with Xcode/Objective-C, and it helps to have some grounding in C itself. But that learning curve doubles as a Barrier to Entry: Anybody who survives the process is highly marketable, since it’s definitely something your client’s nephew can’t manage.

1:16 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: I have no idea what you’re talking about. He made an Android (ugh) app. “Open source, Mom!” So, yeah. I’ll pass along what you wrote, because it’s all Geek to me.

1:22 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@matador1015: Ha!

1:27 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

Back to the video. Much better than this.

ADD: They make great coat racks.

1:29 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: Would you mind not, like . . . telling the whole world that? I’m working on making an app. Right now, it’s just copy/pasted code from an online tutorial. Nothing original about it. It’d be like me bragging about how you wrote a book when all you did was download The Cat in the Hat to your iPhone.

Edit: What was the “Ugh” for? Why so much loyalty for Apple?

1:32 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Sorry.

As House says, “All parents [fuck] up their kids.”

/bragging

1:34 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: I’d download porn if Jobs would let me.

1:38 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

Jesus! Write “porn” and the next thing you know is you’ve got camel toe Snorg chick. At least she was wearing socks. O_o

1:46 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: I, uh. I know some Java. That’s about it, lol.

1:49 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: I’ll spare you the Geek Flame Wars over whether Android is all that “open” in practice.

But nothing wrong with learning it, even if you start with code-pasting. I’d argue that iOS is the better bet, but knowing either is better than, say, Crackberry.

And, as a practical matter, I have a Kindle Fire for development purposes. But that’s where I’m cheating with Lua instead of Android proper.

1:50 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Hey, gotta start somewhere. Learn one language, and you have the fundamental tools to learn others. They all behave alike; just different syntax.

1:58 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: Download it on your desktop, convert it to mp4, transfer it to your iPad.

Or so I’m told.

1:59 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: The “ugh” is because your first computer experience was a macintosh when you were five. You’ve gone to The Dark Side. Luke, I am not your mother.

2:00 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: I gots no iPad! >:/

2:01 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

But, I gots a job…so…RED COVER!

2:01 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: Funny story: The reason I decided to actually start learning to program is that I took a course out of curiosity and it reminded me of symbolic logic, which I’d fallen in love with the semester before.

2:07 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Symbolic logic was literally my post-college introduction to philosophy. I had a bunch of Crazy Ideas floating around my head, met up with a dude who was already in the program, and as we talked, he pegged me for a natural. So I borrow his symbolic logic book, and realize that I get it.

I soon lost interest in symbolic logic as such. But that was the trigger.

2:08 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@I’m passing for white: To that, I say this.

2:09 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: You’d better lock your door like right now.

2:18 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: People think philosophy is just a bunch of stoners talking about how the universe is actually made of cotton candy, but our taste buds are just too unsophisticated to realize it.

I had to explain to one of my roommates last semester, like, THREE times that my girlfriend (who is majoring in philosophy) had actual homework to do. He kept saying, “I thought all you had to do was read,” to which I replied, “Yes. A lot. Then you have to write ten page papers about why Sartre should have had his head examined.”

2:21 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: And to that, I say…

Because modern Macs are Unix under the hood, I’m running a server-compatible LAMP system on my laptop: Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP. This allows me to fully program and test websites on my MacBook Pro, which I then upload to a beta or production server when ready — with no changes in code. (I have, for example, a fully programmed test Stinque site running WordPress on my laptop.) And because modern Macs are popular among geeks, there are nice tools like Coda available for managing program files.

You can do something similar on Windows. But it’s a bit of a pain.

For that matter, using Parallels I also have Windows XP, 7, and the 8 Preview on my laptop — so I can also test websites in Explorer and Win Firefox/Chrome before taking them live. You can run Windows on Mac, but not the other way around.

I try to avoid the Platform Flame Wars. But as a practical matter, Macs are very professionally friendly.

2:25 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Me, in college:

“Well, if Determinism is false, then I do have Free Will as advertised. But if Determinism is true, then thinking I have Free Will is part of my fate. Case closed.”

I had to travel a few miles to get from there to here.

2:26 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: (He can’t game on a mac.)

2:28 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: That’s always been The Exception: There’s no Mac Alienware.

But PC gaming? Still? I thought everybody moved to Xbox.

2:37 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

Kids these days. They play online games on servers from Korea or something where they get gold and shit, everybody is a mage or something, people have bots digging for gold. Fooly Cooties or something. Livestreaming. Shit I’m too old (read: lazy) to get.

(He’s about to flame the shit out of me.)

2:40 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

Oh dear God in heaven, haven’t we been punished enough? Besides, he’s wrong. He writes happiness but means joy. Quel douche.

My computer doesn’t let me see a lot of videos. It doesn’t think I’m worthy or something.

Be that as it may, on to weightier topics: I attended musical theatre on Broadway yesterday for the first time in some years. Me and the matinée ladies.

Has everything been forgotten?

In the theatre where I sat enraptured by Dreamgirls, I witnessed the worst, most inept perf by a star in a musical since Jill Haworth lowered the bar in Cabaret. Instead of the handsomest man in New York the script claimed him to be we got a portly, middle aged man sweating his way through embarrassingly bad dances that gave new meaning to routine. Act I had me praying for a terrorist attack. Not a big one. An IRA attack, like the ones we knew in London. Just enough to make them stop and give me an excuse to flee the theatre. A nice big bang in Shubert Alley. Anything not to have to look at the ghastly sets and costumes any more. As it was I was forced to endure the endless, cheerless ‘high-jinks’ till the plot finally threw in the towel and let us all go take a piss but not before said ‘star’ forgot the lyrics and started laughing at another actor.

I had to go back because I was there to see a dear friend who had arranged my ticket ($145, thank you very much). I’m happy to note that Act II was a slight improvement as they gave the plot over to some people who actually know how to be in musicals (my friend conspicuous among them) though not until we’d had to sit through yet one more inexplicable dance routine performed by 6 men and 6 women who deserved better than being all-purpose happy-villagers. Speaking of which, given that the director/choreographer is a woman I found the extent of the show’s misogyny truly perplexing. However, after a half-hour of something approaching pleasure the plot had to be wrapped up which entailed yet more mirthless mugging and the appearance of a costume so astonishingly ugly I honestly thought it was going to figure in the resolution: a sort of deus ex mackintosh. As far as I can tell they were aiming for the airborne fizz of Palm Beach Story but instead of Taittinger we got Diet 7-Up in plastic cups. As the final curtain fell I felt humiliated to ever have been upon a stage ever in my life and called my agent to cancel an audition scheduled for next Tuesday. If anyone asks me what I do I’ll tell them I’m a professional vivisectionist: anything other than admit to a glancing connection to musical theatre.

Though I must admit to being touched by the organized frenzy backstage as the dressers rushed to prep for the evening show, the cast ran out to get something to eat/go to the gym/take a class, etc, everyone infused with that air of being engaged on some extremely important endeavor that seems peculiar to musicals.

It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever seen – or even been in (I’m remembering one particular ‘show’ that was so bad that if I couldn’t actually turn my back on the audience I stood behind other actors so I could pretend to myself that I couldn’t be seen. Thank God for technique) – but it’s one of the more discouraging spectacles I ever witnessed. Off-hand, the only thing I remember hating more is the original Evita which, dreck though it is, was at least put on the stage in a masterful manner. The same cannot be said for the farrago at the Imperial.

2:41 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: All good points. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that I’m not a PC lover, nor am I a Mac hater. MOM is the one who starts this crap 90% of the time.

I don’t think Macs are pointless. I just have no reason to invest in one over a PC, especially since I’m familiar with Windows. And yeah, I like the odd PC game here and there. I want to get Diablo 3 but a) neither of my computers will run it, and b) always-online DRM is bullshit.

All I’m trying to say is that my mother really has no reason to hate PCs as much as she does. Like. I say I want a phone that runs Android and I get a “Booo” from her. Because Google sucks and Apple rules. They both suck, if you ask me.

2:42 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: 2/10

2:46 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick:

Here’s a surefire recipe for a sparkling, spirited and totally intoxicating musical cocktail: Take two-time Tony Award® winner Matthew Broderick (The Producers) and three-time Tony® nominee Kelly O’Hara (South Pacific), give them a songbook of the greatest American standards ever sung, stir things up with a cast of bootleggers, chorus girls, playboys and politicians, set them loose in a glorious Long Island mansion in the rip-roaring 1920s — and let the fun begin.

Are you having fun yet?

2:51 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: They both suck, if you ask me.

You win!

I certainly have my strong preferences, but if you get mired in Fanboy Adoration, you lose perspective about where Your Hero falls short.

Same with politics. Mac/Windows and iOS/Android sound a lot like Team Blue/Team Red. Some days I get Techmeme and Memeorandum confused.

2:51 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: Fun? It’s as much fun as a cup of cold sick.

2:59 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Total mischaracterization. I have a preference. I like to give you a hard time. You like to give me a hard time. That’s the way of the world.

Google sucks?

3:00 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@nojo: SEGA killed the fanboy in me when they stopped making game consoles. True story.

3:02 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: Darn you for getting me into the Up series. I’m afraid to watch more. (It is good–just–sad?)

3:03 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: Oh, SEGA. First color hand-held. Can’t believe Gameboy won. Betamax vs. VCR

3:06 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOVjr: That better not mean what I think it memes.

3:09 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: It keeps getting better. We’re about due for another installment.

3:09 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: I was a little too young back then for me to be able to say this with 100% certainty, but my guess is that the Game Gear failed because it didn’t have the same quality of games that the Game Boy had. I mean, I don’t know that it had any games that have achieved Classic status. The Game Boy, though? Kirby, Pokemon, Link’s Awakening, Tetris. . . .

3:10 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

Maru turns Five, Motherfuckers!

3:15 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: Does Junior PM get slapped? Ever? And maybe a haircut? Really, I can’t watch because I’m attached to the squatter kid.

3:21 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: Junior PM? You mean the hoity-toity one who doesn’t appear much? The squatter kid became quite a celebrity. There are also some magical transformations. I’m not telling what happens. It’s completely addictive and the most extraordinary story of class in Britain I know. Beyond that it’s about being human and living life. They’ve made plans to keep going till the group is all dead.

3:25 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: I’ve only seen 21 in its entirety and part of 28.

Glad to know Squatter Kid made it. I can watch it again.

Yeah, Junior PM is one of those three sots who went to the same school. He said that working class folks could afford to send their kids to prep schools if they sold their livers and kidneys didn’t buy “smart” cars.

3:32 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: You should try to see the first two if you can. The London the kids live in is the city I knew; dirty, cold, and shabby from the war.

3:34 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: Sorry — I’ve seen up to part of 28. Started at the beginning.

The park they took them to after the zoo and party looked kinda dangerous, like, someone is going to put an eye out dangerous. The kids from the children’s home started building a house. I wanted to cry.

8:28 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@JNOV: Welcome to the working class. But srsly, it gets better and more astounding as it goes on.

8:31 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: I’m in love with the squatter.

8:35 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: Wait. “Shabby from the war.” It was 1968! I’m not doubting you–I’m just shocked. The Marshall Plan money–where did it go?

9:43 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

The war ended in 45. I was born in 49. I remember playing in the streets of bombed out and abandoned houses in 57? I remember the bombed out hospitals. It took 20 years or more for the city to start to recover. There was Festival of Britain in 52 and the swinging London in 67. Meanwhile it was frozen bedrooms and shillings in the meter.

11:39 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: I’m going to see Follies in two weeks here in Los Angeles. I’ve never seen it. The reviewer in the local fishwrap ran out of positive adjectives to describe the show. Apparently it’s the NY cast except for Bernadette. BTW I saw Bernadette in Gypsy a few years ago on a night when she had a cold. She was heartstoppingly good.

11:49 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Dodgerblue: It’s a glory of the western world. You will plotzs. I saw the original. The trouble is the incredibly boring book. But then the music starts and it’s all glory.

One of Michael Bennet’s masterpieces of musical staging.

11:58 pm • Thursday • May 24, 2012

@Benedick: Wowzer!

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