Fifty years after Camus

Albert Camus died fifty years ago today. His first impact into my life was with The Myth of Sisyphus which took the myth as a metaphor for life and demanded that the prime question which must be answered first is “…whether life is or is not worth living.” The answer? Life is a pointless Sisyphusian task but still suicide is not the answer: “The struggle itself…is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Each of his works open up more and more depth. Even now when I have lost the desire for the existentialist darkness Camus still gets to the point of it all. Quickly and ruthlessly. The Stranger (together with the Myth) taught us that there are always options and Caligula shows that madness is necessary for people to realize system failures. His notebooks are filled to the brim with ideas, short cryptic notes and twitterlike entries among depth and concrete tips.

To write is to surrender. The art requires giving up some things. Write on. An effort that always bears fruit, of one kind or another. A question of laziness of those who fail. (Tranlated from my Swedish translation of his Cahiers 1935-1942)

In closing a quote from Albert Camus’ speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957

Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death.

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