Camus - life is absurd, don't commit suicide

Manchester, Vermont                                 (c) Perypatetik
In connection with his interpretation of "The Myth of Sisyphus", the French existentialist Albert Camus wrote an interesting essay on suicide.

Manchester, Vermont                                                     (c) Perypatetik   

Camus concedes that consciousness will eventually recognize habit and thus that life is absurd and has no meaing. This evolution, however, does not entail that one should commit suicide. In fact, on the contrary, it is for exactly this reason that you should continue to live.

Manchester, Vermont                                                               (c) Perypatetik Media

The logic is that either abolishing consciousness or abolishing absurdity entails death. To live is to retain consciousness and absurdity and fight through the struggle between them. This prompts uncertainty. Suicide is settling the absurd, but the absurd cannot be settled. Hence suicide is a mistake.

Manchester, Vermont                                                            (c) Perypatetik Media

The consequences of absurdity are also very appealing: revolt, freedom and passion.

If we were to apply Camus' theory to the independent arts, it should give commercially unsuccessful, ignored creative writers and artists (among others) a reason to not commit artistic suicide. It may seem or even be absurd to produce without any audience, but the end of this state will certainly cost you either your iconoclastic position or your absolute freedom, and the commercial or other form of seeming "success" will crush your passion.

Who would choose that?!?!

Manchester, Vermont                                                                             (c) Perypatetik Media

Furthermore, passion in an age of extremes is exactly what you need in order to gain temporary access here and there to the sublime. Camus may dismiss projects (what he calls ideology) as a means for coping with absurdity in life, but the passion he posits will inevitably feed into a project that provides temporary reprieve from the absurdity. What better way to have this than by chasing the sublime in art.

Manchester, Vermont                                                                                                               (c) Perypatetik Media
Henry Whittlesey


Albert Camus, An Absurd Reasoning.
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