stone face

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus is one of those books, my favorite kind, that has worked on my consciousness for years after reading it. When revisiting certain passages, it strikes me that I had been thinking along these lines to the point that now the words sing to me more than ever.

The gist of the book’s message is to live the most (not the best) by focusing attention on the experience of existence while acknowledging the absurdity of our condition (that we yearn for meaning in a random existence, so we “color the void” with our images).

“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.” Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (p. 121)

When I’m feeling the tragic fate of existence, it is this private victory that I keep in mind.

The Immensity of Randomness

The hoodoos left behind in this amphitheater of erosion wear the costumes and masks that disguise randomness as they sing the chorus about the illusion of essence with labels of purpose so easily shifted by angle and light.

These curtains of erosion hide the absurdity behind them, for I raise my camera and point the lens at what it pretends to capture: eternal formations defining my mortal position more than the immensity of randomness.

This curse of the fixed image (and labels) and its fate as a screen made me think of this interesting observation made by Albert Camus: “In Italian museums are sometimes found little painted screens that the priest used to hold in front of the face of condemned men to hide the scaffolding.  The leap in all its forms, rushing into the divine or the eternal, surrendering to the illusions of the everyday or of the idea – all those screens hide the absurd.” -Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (p. 91)