Only one question

Writing on the impossible, inevitably leads back to Albert Camus:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.


Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of profound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile question. On the other hand, I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.” Opening lines of ‘Myth of Sisyphus’, orig. 1940.

Interesting how the ethical is for Camus a profoundly ontological question, as it is for me.

Albert Camus

The Intrinsic Paradox of Life

There is something intrinsically paradoxical in life. Probably there are more paradoxes, but lately I’ve been struggling with this one, and that is definitely enough for now.

It has to do with this wanting to live. I truly don’t understand where this will comes from. Especially if you live in a world like ours, in which the most one can do to create meaning, is to be helpful, supportive, or any such other rather positive things, for someone else. Someone who is just as average and whose life is just as meaningless as your own. Then what is the reason to help this other person? (Or, for that matter, to bring someone new into this world. Although I get how cute children can be, it is really just another mass of cells waiting to die, and to suffer this meaninglessness in the meantime.)

Of course, the people who really are thinking things through and cannot settle for the enjoying-life-principle as a sufficient reason to live, those people have already taken the one exit-option available. The ones that are still walking around the earth are the optimists, or the pessimist who have settled for the next best thing. It is the Darwinian principle that makes the settlers to continue living, and in a sense it makes the enjoying-life-as-meaning the correct theory.

But this is only the case when life itself has value. And this cannot be proven. Still, it seems wrong to live life merely as a way to fasten the way to Death.

If there is any reason for art to exist – besides the process of making art I mean – than it must be to heal the souls of anyone who is facing this fundamental paradox in life.

Time for some Canto Ostinato, by Simeon ten Holt.