Monday, February 20, 2017

Rock Pushing

1942 was the heyday for French existentialism, which seems an appropriate time for the French to question their existence and responsibility in an irrational universe: the insanity of the German occupation, persecution, and mayhem in what seemed to run (for a very short time) as a well organized machine--which would have magnified the absurdity.

Last night, after reading again, Albert Camus'* The Myth of Sisyphus,** I have been contemplating the pushing of that boulder up the hill. Camus writes that when the boulder rolls back down the hill, it is in that moment of Sisyphus' contemplation, that he, Camus, is most interested in. "That is the hour of consciousness." That space of decision and determination is Sisyphus' choice to take control of his absurd curse. In getting behind the rock and heaving it back up the hill, "We must imagine Sisyphus is happy."

Determined to stay aware of our new presidency's thoughts and actions, but to keep the information balanced, I followed on twitter: Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. Great information can't be conveyed completely in little squirts of opinion, but it is a kind of pulse I can keep my finger on.

Last night, I hit the wall. Our president's tweets are exacerbating, along with his cabinet's defense when asked certain questions about his policies. I've tried to rely on the primary documents, listening to what the players actually do and say instead of what the naysayers say. In my fed-up state, I unfollowed all the tweeters, even though Hillary Clinton's tweets have been positive and upbeat.

A strange thing has been happening in the library and classroom of my mind. In the early morning hours, when I am in a somewhat conscious state of sleep, my mind has been rationalizing, teaching, and seeking understanding. The myth of Sisyphus became the frame from which a new understanding emerged. Like Sisyphus, I have been placed in a world of torment and futility with a task of rolling a boulder up a hill--in this case the boulder is politics. In that moment of contemplation, deciding to push the rock up the hill or not, or whether to stay privy to politics is a decisive moment. In my decision to disregard the political venue of twitter, I've walked away from the task. When enough people refuse to participate, refuse to deal with the burden, that is when politics run rampant into absurdity; it is when heads of state gain too much power and tip the scales of democracy. A democracy consists of Sisyphus-like people who are willing to roll that darn rock up a hill to make sure we stay a democracy.

Will I get back on the twitter feed of the president, the past president and one-time president contenders? No. Not for now. The fight and the fighters can be as absurd as the reason to fight. There are other ways to protect democracies, I just have to find the best way to roll my rock up the hill.

* Jean Sartre, Simone de Bouvier, Albert Camus were the best known French existentialists.

The Myth of Sisyphus,**There are many versions of Sisyphus' condemnation from the gods. Essentially, the King of Corinth was punished horribly in the afterlife because he loved life more than he loved the gods. His doom was to push the boulder up the hill, watch it roll down, and push it up again in an eternal cycle. His curse is often compared to the drudgery of life--and so it seemed again this morning as I contemplated whether to get out of bed again, and start the routine all over again. In that moment when I decided to pursue life, I was also determined to add some spice to this day, so I could dance, skip, and laugh while pushing the rock.