by Thomas James Gray
Albert Camus was a goalkeeper but apparently in his spare time he also wrote about stuff. I’d heard a rumour he’d written that God was dead, a claim that made me gulp down my hot tea too quickly and go ‘phwaaa?’
He was quoting Nietzsche of course but the point had hit home. God had died. How very un-omnipotent of Him. According to Camus we are all Sisyphus pushing our rock up a hill for eternity, doomed to monotony & strife. Brilliant.
This sudden realisation of the absurd made me spontaneously crow like a cockerel. ‘Why not?’ I thought to myself. ‘After all, nothing means anything or even matters. Might take a poo in my pants or get one of those massive disks in my bottom lip’. I toyed with the idea of just collapsing to the floor, shutting down and giving up. Those around me would be utterly perplexed at my irrational behaviour, dumbfounded even. They’ll think I’ve locked-in syndrome or something but all the while the joke’ll be on them, the idiots. I could snap out of it whenever I pleased but why bother? I don’t want to be pushing rocks up hills. A-no-thank-you.
But then I reasoned.
There were positive outcomes to my existential angst & also to Camus’ worldview. Firstly, pushing rocks up hills is a sure way to get buff. Fact. Secondly, it’s an outdoorsy lifestyle which obviously can only be a good thing & thirdly I’ll have climbed a mountain, an achievement that’d provide a wonderful sense of accomplishment. And imagine the view? Suddenly the absurd’d become the sublime. Nice.
Moreover, Camus didn’t specify that we had to be pushing the same rock up a hill (I don’t think). We could gather them at the summit. And seeing as everyone else is doomed to the same fate & seeing as there’s only a certain amount of mountains on planet earth, it stands to reason that several ‘pushers’ would be assigned to the same mountain thus allowing for a sense of camaraderie & the basis of a community with a shared vision & purpose. This was Sisyphus’ real torment; isolation. Unlike him, we could join forces and cut hunks out of our collected rock & begin to establish mountain-top dwellings, beautiful stone palaces even – after all, we do have eternity remember. We could then slowly connect our growing city with other mountain dwellings through a system of rope bridges and, for example, and keep in mind I’m spitballing here, trade slaughtered mountain goats & their wool for jewels mined from other mountain communities. The adventures and pitfalls we’d experience on our journey to the top would only motivate us to continue our uphill struggle in anticipation of the embellished re-telling of these experiences with our fellow citizens. These stories, told round the fire, would create an oral tradition & a culture specific from mountain to mountain. As societies grow, different jobs’ll appear. For example, some will become explorers travelling to distant mountains and returning with exotic, mysterious goods & regaling us with tales of foreign lands.
But what about our descent? Again, Camus didn’t specify. As far as transportation goes, I for one quite fancy zorbing. Or possibly paragliding. But of course one could ski, mountain bike, zip-wire or whatever really.
My point is that all The Goalkeeper seems to have done is describe a metaphorical state of nature in suspension. He failed to take into account our creativity & habit of making the most of our lot (he may well not have done to be fair – I haven’t actually read any of his stuff in years).
Anyway. Roughly speaking, Albert Camus’ description of life is 50% uphill struggle, 50% relaxation and purposeful activity. Sounds familiar. C’est la vie.