back. Camus expresses, “This discomfort in the face of man’s own inhumanity, this incalculable tumble before the image of what we are, this ‘nausea’ … is also the absurd.” As we pursue the impersonal and the asinine, grasping blindly for meaning and identity where there can be none, we become inhuman like the universe surrounding us, and in our reflection, we recognize that we are nothing but a collection of atoms destined to die. We have no soul, no love, no dreams. No motive acts behind our lives but the fear of death that wills us not to succumb to despair - to suicide. This realization is the confrontation with absurdity. We cannot even know if the values and passions dear to us are genuine or dependable. As Camus argues, “No code of ethics and no effort are justifiable a priori in the face of the cruel mathematics that command our condition.” Even if we want desperately for our values to hold true and to consistently embody our virtues, reality will disappoint us. Our projects may end in failure; we may harm those we wish to help; we may sabotage our moral compasses. Our existential desires strain against absurdity but cannot surge past it. And above all stands the absurd certainty of death, which ensures that “All the pretty speeches about the soul will have their contrary convincingly proved.” Because existence is ephemeral, morality and fulfillment are destined to disintegrate before the creeping sands of time. Therefore, we cannot surrender our consciences to the “spirit of nostalgia” that deceptively promises the familiar comforts of human values and hopes. We can only throw ourselves at the absurd and attempt to reconcile it with our need for happiness and achievement. The answer to “Why?” now appears more elusive than ever. Shall we lay ourselves limply upon the ground and wait to die, or shall we continue to struggle in vain for answers that remain maddeningly insoluble? At the crossroads between life and death, neither choice seems sensible. But Camus warns us against resignation and the specter of suicide that looms closely behind. They are tempting choices in the face of insurmountable absurdity, but not honorable or happy ones. Camus maintains that only by accepting feelings of absurdity can we affirm the value of living - value that, in spite of absurdity, always holds true. He writes, “There can be no question of masking the evidence … It is essential to know whether one can live with [the absurd] or whether, on the other hand, logic commands one to die of it.” We must continually embrace the absurd and trudge forward in defiance of it. “Being able to remain on that dizzying crest is integrity,” he declares, “and the rest is subterfuge.” To Camus, no character embodies this existentialist spirit as completely as Sisyphus, the tragic figure from Greek mythology who is condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a mountain for eternity. Each time he approaches the peak and may at last enjoy fulfillment, the boulder slips and rolls back down. His work is truly meaningless, and his immortal existence is reduced to an endless, infernal misery that promises no reprise, not even in death. Through his punishment, Sisyphus perpetually encounters the absurd. The gods, like the universe and the march of time, are indifferent to his suffering. No matter what values he ascribes to his life, no matter how much effort he exerts, no matter what hope he clings to, his work is invariably worn down to nothing. How does Sisyphus overcome the despair that must accompany such a hopeless situation? Critically, he does not seek to escape absurdity; he embraces it lucidly. Camus expresses, “I see that man going PAGE 36 VOL. 1, NO. 1 ZEITGEIST