Mythical Madness

In Albert Camus’s essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” he argues that there has been a great misconception in regards to the mental state of the former king of Corinth. Rather than believing Sisyphus to be a miserable being imprisoned by his own fate, Camus notes that this fate might just be his liberation.

Now how might a former king trapped by an eternal condemnation have control over his fate? Well, that’s where Camus points to the part of Sisyphus’ punishment that we might not ponder as much. He claims it is in the, “hour of consciousness” that Sisyphus is “stronger than his rock” (2). That is to say that his descent is not a symbol of his tangible failure, but rather the moment in which his fate belongs to him.

By definition, existentialism as a philosophical principle requires one to assume absolute responsibility over individual free will. And, Sisyphus has accomplished just that. Instead of succumbing to his damnation, he thwarted the gods intentions and became the ruler of his destiny. Just as Meursault rejected the priest’s desire for him to repent on death row, Sisyphus similarly challenges his immortal captors by finding true happiness within his fatalistic condition.

American/Americanized

Come August this year, I knew it was time to crack open the long awaited summer reading book. But this time, instead of writing it off until the last second, I was actually excited to get into the memoir I had chosen. Author Sara Saedi quickly captured my full attention with her memoir, Americanized, in which she takes her readers through her childhood, her angsty teen years, all the way to her adulthood. But more than just simply putting her life story on paper, Saedi emphasized the struggles of living in America undocumented.

Looking back, there are many Benjaminian undertones throughout Saedi’s story. Her life was tattered with binary after binary, even if they weren’t explicit or publicized. As an undocumented family, the Saedi’s lived with the crippling fear of deportation; of being the other, illegal, less than fully human.

Immigration has become an increasingly polarizing and controversial topic in American politics. To many the conversation has become CITIZENS/aliens, a dehumanizing perspective which makes justifying extreme border security and inhumane reform the “best” option. But to neglect the rights of a human being on a basis of legal status, eliminates the possibility of achieving mutual recognition. This mutual state is necessary if we, as a country, are ever to build a healthy perspective on immigration. Saedi brings to light the current flaws in our system for those trying to gain citizenship. With her testimony in mind and Benjamin’s reminder of the necessity of a mutually recognized society, we must evoke change and empower a difference.

Darkenfloxx Dreaming

In a world where prisoners are guinea pigs and love quite literally is a drug, George Saunders explores the daunting realities of life, death, and the ultimate sacrifice.

As Saunder’s story concludes, we are met with a bittersweet end to Jeff’s life, that reveals much more than his mortality. When Jeff decides to release the Darkenfloxx, a deadly, mind-altering drug into his system, his intentions are actually driven by life, not death. Jeff realizes the systematic manipulation and corruption he has fallen into at the hands of “scientist” and “family man” Abnesti. He now understands that the only way to save fellow inmate Rachel, and others from a deadly fate, is by sacrificing his life. We see Jeff’s immediate regret as his, “arm was about a miles down the heat vent,” where he hurled the remote that activated the Darkenfloxx. Jeff indeed had a will to live, but his will to protect others was ultimately stronger.