Feeling Human


In the Myth of Sisyphus, a man named Sisyphus was in the underworld, and lied to the gods saying that he needed to go back to Earth in order to punish his wife for not preparing his body correctly after death. After the gods sent him back to Earth, Sisyphus spent his time enjoying life as a human. The gods noticed that they had been tricked by Sisyphus and decided to punish him with the physical and mental strain of pushing a heavy stone up a mountain only for it to role down as he reaches the top.

Camus argues that while this is supposed to be a torture, it really would be making Sisyphus happy. This argument is considered absurd until you dive deeper into why pushing a stone up a mountain for eternity could ever be a good thing; “the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over”(Albert Camus) honestly sounds awful. Camus states that the physical act of touching the stone and the feeling of struggle in Sisyphus’ body would be enough to give him a sense of the life he wanted back. It made him feel human in the underworld, which is all he wanted in the first place.

I agree with Camus’ argument that this punishment for Sisyphus isn’t really a punishment. I agree that, yes, having the feeling of touch and feeling like being on Earth for someone who always wanted to live would make them somewhat happy. However, Camus also argues that Sisyphus was able to turn his punishment into an everyday task and be content. The only way he was able to live out his punishment in the underworld for eternity was by accepting the absurdity. By acknowledging that the punishment is the way the afterlife is going to be, Sisyphus was able to not be punished.

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