you, being all gracious and all, are probably smiling, indulgent -- "she'll just spend a little extra time thinking things out; she won't just blurt a bunch of bleeecccckkkkk all over this nice, clean space." you, being all gracious and all, would be wrong.
i cannot sleep longer than ten minutes at a time. funny, though, were i unaware of the length of time i'd slept, i would not feel so bad. sometimes i wake from that short snooze feeling remarkably refreshed, only to toss out a string of curses upon realizing that nine or eleven minutes, only, have gone by. but i get REALLY weirded out by how often the interval is exactly ten minutes. creepily consistent.
it's those darned spasms. i almost wrote "doggone." glad i caught that!
i can see why fred hates me at times like this. not that he says that he hates me, or even acts that way. he just hates to be around me. he rushes off. he fidgets, weight on the left foot -- shift -- weight on the right. plus, i thought i told him to throw those damned holy, gray, shapeless, permanently stained, ugly sweat pants away. but there they are again, swaying in countermeasure to his fidgets, mocking me.
it is 10:49 and he is supposed to be at church with the militant lesbian existential feminists by 11 am. plus, he needs to make an emergency purchase at the lone alp's lone ace hardware store. did i say "needs"? so i threatened to permanently leave the drawbridge up should he fail to bring home some double-sided, industrial strength tape to secure these blasted new area rugs in the bedroom... so i threatened to give buddy the freakishly large kitten a mohawk shave if that tape did not make its way into the manor by this afternoon...
like i said, fred hates me at times like this. losing his pants and the liberty of his free time. gaining a bald cat.
the other day, i was following a french journalist on twitter -- he's "embedded" in françois hollande's campaign -- and he was tweeting hollande's remarks at... was it a book fair, book store, a publication launch? i don't remember. anyway, hollande, in an efffort, i guess, to sound "literary," compared himself to sisyphe...
oh, wait! just because i am not editing myself doesn't mean i cannot "source" what i write. duh.
okay, so here is the foundation for what just popped into my seizing, altered, tired head:
où est donc le fil de ma pensée? oh, yeah. i suppose a good number of us secretly compare ourselves to sisyphe, but i am pretty sure most of us hone the reference, and really are claiming some sort of kinship with the absurdity of his destiny -- you know, that rock, that hill, over and over, and over, again.
because how many of us really remember the life that king sisyphe chose to lead prior to zeus' coming up with his exquisitely painful punishment? he was a murderer, a rapist. plus, he tended to murder those to whom he owed a measure of hospitality, "travelers and guests." of course, he tended to rape those to whom he was related, like his niece. of course, none of that, not even his fratricidal intentions, were what put him on that interminable relay for which most of us know him. no, he was given the stone to push up the hill by persephone, as his due for tricking her into believing a bit of nonsense about his wife and blahblahblah.
sisyphe thought he had cojones, that he was downright gutsy, outsmarting even zeus. most everyone else considered him a hubristic hack.
life in myth land ain't all it is cracked up to be.
so, yeah, we all know about the futility of certain tasks, like making beds, washing clothes, working for a paycheck. it's when the annoying minutiae expand to include major categories, like, oh... life itself, that we invoke sisyphe's destiny. yeah, we're like that guy! condemned, consigned, fated to repeat a task that was stupid before it began. meaninglessness, squared. meaninglessness, to the infinite power!
anyway, i haven't been able to stop wondering what Hollande meant, exactly. he purposefully dissected sisyphean destiny from the cautionary tale, saying that what he recognized in himself was the king's behavior, his tenacity and perseverance. how strange. given the relative sophistication of french politics (relative, i mean, to the u.s. republican presidential candidates, in this pre-convention period of 2012), this personal appeal to greek mythology is comparable, i'd argue, to romney's "trees in michigan" speech that ended with a reference to his wife's predilection for cadillacs.
i'm just like all of you, they are saying.
it's a shout out to an audience that has the weight of the world on its back. that doesn't know where the money for the next bill is coming from, that almost doesn't care anymore, but still, would not dare fail to pay. it's an appeal to the hubris of our nature, to its very wrongness, and it's a lamentation that a zealot's love for life, and life's simple, fine things, is not protection enough from the perverse punishments of the universe.
or maybe these career politicians are just probing, poking, trying to quote some cultural common ground -- sisyphe, citation of a shared culture -- michigan's trees and cars, the same.
no one else seems to be very taken with holland's remarks, maybe because they don't have the time, or maybe because they don't wake every nine to eleven minutes. the journalists present that day, however, jumped all over Hollande's allusion, because it does *jar*, doesn't it?
forced to redress, required by the press to explain, hollande amplifies and complicates, saying that he sees, in sisyphe, "la persévérance, de l’engagement, de la volonté humaine, de la ténacité."
experienced politician, he turns absurdity on its head, and adds:
Même quand on arrive au plus haut, il faut toujours penser que rien n’est acquis, rien n’est fait. Même dans l’après-victoire, tout doit être un recommencement. Toute victoire appelle après un nouveau combat. Le combat politique est un combat sans fin. Et moi, je suis un combattant.he paints the nicest picture of eternal torment, don't you think? nice save, françois.
so we can just rewrite the pains of destiny, recast it as something else. sisyphe's destiny, like hollande's future, does not depend upon the details of their pasts. sisyphe has to hope and believe, every time, every trip up the hill, that this is it, this is the last one.
because this is my life, this is worthwhile.
because hollande came to the myth of sisyphe like most do, through camus, "il faut imaginer sisyphe heureux."
and because we all know that this is really a post about camus... why haven't i put it out there. why do not i open as camus did, famously: “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide"?
mostly because i cannot fathom "revolt" as camus presents it, nor feel, any longer, enough satisfaction in "engagement." how amusing and ironic, but how infinitely lacking in sufficiency, is it, that my rock and hill should be the very act, itself, of facing my fate?
i am no philosopher, it is clear. between sartre bellowing about the cartesian cogito and camus' smarmy "I revolt, therefore we are" ["je me révolte, donc nous sommes"], between the positing of revolution versus rebellion, is this stupid idea of not messing with absurdity itself, the only solid construct they both share...
oh god. editor! editor! come quick, editor!
let me try and save myself, here, something probably best accomplished by permanently lifting my fingers from these keys. camus would have me relishing my task, redefining the punishment of hubris as facing and living with the absurd, which he posits as suicide's solution. sartre, poor man, flounders about, totally engaged, and therefore inconstant. people love to point out that, at his sad end, he converted to messianic judaism [perhaps courtesy of secretary benny levy], a stance i don't find wholly inconsonant with his prior "engaged" atheism. as WCW would say, "so much depends..."
on the other hand, camus' stringent admonition against attempts to remake the world make me want to jump off the nearest cliff.
writing this has proved enough of a distraction that i've made it safely to 1 pm, when it is now safe to take another 10 milligrams of baclofen. yes, "so much depends..." on imagining sisyphe happy.