Monday, May 10, 2010

Sisyphus, in Fact

It all starts with “no pain, no gain.” That is the modern version of the Fall. Eve is tempted by the fruits of motivational therapy, by the coaching movement, which attempts to remind people of what they already know. The bottom is falling out of the dollar and the Euro, but Western man is confronted with the reverse of doomsayers. No doubt there will be someone reading the most updated version of The Power of Positive Thinking or the millionth edition of The Road Less Traveled as space ship Earth, long freed from the gravitational pull of mother sun, is finally swallowed up by a black hole. The problem with all these motivators, with their dumbed-down view of brain structure, is that they’ve made free will the knight in shining armor against fate and destiny. It is unlikely that too many of the current crop of career coaches have read Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life. Freud said dreams are the royal road to the unconscious, while late night infomercials tell us real estate is still the royal road to quick money. Where does Lear fit into this scenario? How does one break the news of imminent dissolution to the motivational speaker who offers you a host of powerful-looking chaps to solve all your tax problems, if  you can only get to them before the IRS gets to you. No motivational speaker, no coach is going to take “the rest is silence” for an answer. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and “he who hesitates…” and the famed “one day at a time,” which is the mantra of the recovery movement, are used to counter the human urge to give up. Yes, Sisyphus kept trying to push his rock up the hill, like Atlas, who stands opposite Saks Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Mr. S, keep at it! Maybe that is why Camus called his philosophical treatise The Myth rather than The Fact of Sisyphus. Better yet, Sisyphus, in Fact.


  1. I do see a direct connection between "one day at a time" and "we must imagine Sisyphus happy"

    Our comprehention of the agony of sisyphus' task and that of the suffering addict is fundementally the same - the belief that this suffering will go on forever. This mental anguish is almost always far worse than any current circumstance. "One day at a time" is not an illusion used to hold our horror at bay. It is a reminder for us to recognize the truth in each moment and keeps our suffering in perspective.

  2. I basically agree. Let's look at it as a time problem. Essentially eternity is the illusion and the notion that any condition is interminable is highly grandiose. The day at at time makes astrophysical sense, in that finitude is really the name of the game and hello to you my friend. SP

  3. SP=screaming pope


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.