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Betwixt and Between

I don’t know if you’ve ever read anything by Albert Camus, but he had an interesting philosophical interpretation of the world.

Camus was known to be a philosopher of the absurd. His work poses interesting paradoxes. Is it possible to destroy everything in your life except for your lust for life? Can an atheist long for salvation and meaning? Is it possible to be authentic and principled, yet estranged from societal norms? To that I would add what seems a logical tangent (given his other notions): is it possible to be happy yet accept the absurdity of an inherently indifferent world?

As I interpret Camus’ work, I find it “works” for me to believe that we live in an an indifferent universe, but make meaning along the way. Meaning is the meat and potatoes of life. It is meaning that sustains and nourishes us. So what is meaning? We make a story about meaning (and call something meaningful) when our actions take care of our concerns, or when we think that a situation forces action.

So the task of life is to create robust stories of meaning: even when that meaning is provisional and ephemeral and across generations and geography. We have to make up our stories of meaning, then believe them, and share with others because we are always betwixt and between (l’envers et l’endroit.) Life really is inherently absurd. We make meaning out of our lives in order to make the world a little less absurd, in order to find the happiness and reject those nihilistic tendencies. Meaning sustains us and we are the master storytellers in our own life.

 


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