Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sisyphus


Sisyphus, according to Homer, was king and founder of Corinth, or Ephyra as it was called in those times, who scorned the gods driven by passionate desire to outwit them. His crowning deception of the gods came close to his death, when Thanatos personally came to claim him for the underworld. Sisyphus pretened to be intrigued by the handcufs which Thanatos posssed, convincing the sprit to show him how they worked; Thanatos did so on himself. Thus Sisyphus had captured the spirt of death keeping him chained within his house for days, because of this the order of things was severely out of whack, soldiers could be hacked to bits but be back in camp for dinner. Hades, unimpressed with an empire that didn't expand, sent the god of war to free Thanatos and sent Sisyphus to the underworld for eternity. But the cunning Sisyphus had another trick up his sleeve. He conviced his wife to throw his body into a public square, thus he complained to Persephone that he hand't been given proper funeral rights and no coin with which to pay Charon and cross the river Styx. Persephone granted him leave of the underworld. But upon being delievered from the eternal darkness into the light Sisyphus was overwhelbed with the beuty and pleasure of the world, he revolted against the gods by denying death and the aphorism of the natural order, death consummates life. He remained in the light for quite some time but even he could not fight off the inevitable and was cast down into the underworld where his indiscretions caught up with him. Sisyphus was then sentanced to eternal labour and meaningless labour at that, accumulating into nothing. The task, according to some versions of the myth, was pushing a rock up a mountain only to have it fall back down upon reaching the apex; he then would descend down the moutain to start his toil again. Camus sees the myth of Sisyphus as an allegory for the human condition, Sisyphus and "his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted towards accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth". According to Camus what is tragic and Heroic about Sisyphus is his conciousness of the absurdity of his existance and instread of commiting sucide he asserts his liberty and passion in the act of revolt. He gives the absurdity a subjective meaning by affirming his passion in his rebellion and thus "he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock".

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Modified extract from a lager piece "The Absurd Hero and the Ruthless Critic", written late 2004 or early 2005.

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