An Absurd Conversation (Part 1)

What does it mean for something to be absurd?

In philosophy, the concept of absurdity refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any due to apparent meaningless or chaos. This idea is most closely associated with existentialist philosophers such as Albert Camus, who argued that life is inherently devoid of purpose and that this emptiness compels us to create our own meaning.

In the context of work, as mentioned in the article from absurdistchronicles.com, it means acknowledging the repetitive, often monotonous nature of our jobs – a cycle of tasks that can feel as meaningless as Sisyphus rolling his boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down again. But rather than despairing, embracing the absurdity of work means finding our own meaning and purpose within these tasks, creating our own sense of fulfilment.

So, when something is referred to as absurd in this philosophical sense, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ridiculous or illogical. Instead, it encapsulates the dissonance we sometimes feel between our quest for meaning and the seeming indifference of the universe. It’s about grappling with the paradox of trying to find purpose in a seemingly purposeless world.

Source: “The Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus

Is this why societies that don’t place a high value on work, getting ahead, etc., seem to be ones in which people are generally happier than societies which do value such things on a higher scale?

The perceived happiness of societies that do not place a high value on work or getting ahead could be attributed to several factors.

Research, as mentioned on CNBC, indicates that freedom is a significant factor in determining well-being. In societies that don’t prioritize work as heavily, there could potentially be more freedom for individuals to shape their lives in ways that bring them personal fulfillment beyond their careers.

Moreover, societies with high levels of mutual trust, as noted by St. Louis Today, tend to be happier. In societies where the pressure to get ahead or outperform others is less intense, people may find it easier to develop trusting relationships because they are less likely to view others as competitors.

Another aspect to consider, as Brookings Institution suggests, is that while money alone doesn’t buy happiness, meaningful work does. If societies that don’t place a high value on work and accomplishment allow individuals to engage in meaningful work that contributes to their communities, this could also enhance happiness levels.

Finally, an article from Harvard Business Review suggests that happy workplaces are beneficial for both employees and employers. Therefore, societies that prioritize work-life balance, job satisfaction, and happiness at work over mere productivity or wealth accumulation might have happier citizens.

In conclusion, societies that do not place a high value on work or getting ahead might indeed be happier because they emphasize other aspects of life that contribute to well-being, such as freedom, trust, meaningful work, and job satisfaction.

Indeed. I made this website because everything seems absurd.

That’s a truly fascinating approach. Embracing the absurdity of life can lead to unique insights and creative expressions. Absurdity, as we discussed earlier, refers to the conflict between the human search for meaning and our inability to find any inherent value in the universe. This perspective has been a wellspring for many artists, writers, and philosophers.

Your website, absurdistchronicles.com, could serve as a space for people to explore this concept, exchange ideas, and find solace in shared experiences. It could feature articles exploring the absurdity in various aspects of life, art inspired by absurdism, and discussions on how to navigate life with an absurdist perspective.

Remember, the goal isn’t to cultivate a sense of hopelessness or nihilism but to encourage individuals to create their own meaning and find joy, fulfillment, and humor in the inherent absurdity of existence. After all, as Albert Camus said, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

One must imagine Sisyphus happy only if Sisyphus must push the boulder as the gods decreed. What if Sisyphus shrugged?

Ah, your question delves into a fascinating philosophical thought experiment. If Sisyphus shrugged, refusing to push the boulder, it would fundamentally alter the essence of his punishment and challenge the very concept of absurdity.

In Camus’ interpretation, Sisyphus’s punishment is not merely the physical act of pushing the boulder but also the mental torment of knowing that his labor is utterly pointless. The happiness Camus imagines for Sisyphus comes from his acceptance of this absurdity and his decision to find meaning in the struggle itself.

If Sisyphus shrugged, essentially rejecting the task set before him, it could be seen as a form of rebellion against the imposed absurdity. He would be asserting his agency, choosing not to participate in a meaningless endeavor. This act in itself could be seen as a creation of personal meaning, a different form of rebellion against the absurd.

However, it’s worth noting that in the myth, the gods specifically designed Sisyphus’s punishment to be eternal. A refusal to push the boulder might not free him from the cycle. He could still be trapped in an endless loop of defiance and inaction, which could be considered another form of absurdity.

In the end, whether Sisyphus pushes the boulder or shrugs, the key point remains the same: It’s up to the individual to confront the absurdity of existence and create their own sense of purpose and fulfillment.

This seems to be what Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, in the film, Groundhog Day, chose; at least, at first. He realizes his lot is to repeat every day without his efforts amounting to anything since his clock is reset each day.

The movie indeed provides an interesting exploration of the concept of absurdity.

In the beginning, Connors is frustrated and even despondent about his situation. However, as the film progresses, he begins to find meaning within the repetition. He learns to play the piano, helps townspeople, and eventually falls in love with his producer, Rita, played by Andie MacDowell.

Connors’ journey can be seen as a metaphor for finding personal meaning in a seemingly absurd and repetitive existence. Just like Sisyphus, Connors finds a way to be happy in his predicament, not by shrugging off his task, but by engaging fully with it and finding ways to derive satisfaction and growth from it.

So, “Groundhog Day” actually aligns quite well with Camus’ philosophy of embracing the absurd and creating our own meaning.

How did the film end?

“Groundhog Day” ends on a hopeful note. After living the same day over and over again, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) eventually becomes a better person. He uses his knowledge of the day’s events to help the townspeople, improve himself by learning new skills, and win the heart of his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell).

On one iteration of the day, he fully opens up to Rita about his situation, and they spend the day together with Phil treating her with genuine kindness and respect. They fall asleep together, but instead of waking up to the same day, Phil awakes to find that it is finally February 3rd – Groundhog Day is over.

The film concludes with Phil suggesting to Rita that they live in Punxsutawney, the town where the Groundhog Day is held, indicating his character transformation from a self-centered and cynical man to a person who appreciates life and values others.

The ending suggests that personal growth and change are possible, even in the most seemingly absurd and repetitive circumstances.

The resolution in the animated film, The Point, by Harry Nilsson, is along these lines as well.

Indeed, the animated film “The Point” by Harry Nilsson offers a similarly profound message about finding meaning and acceptance in a seemingly absurd world.

“The Point” tells the story of Oblio, a round-headed boy living in a land where everyone and everything has a point. Oblio is considered an outcast and is banished because he doesn’t fit the norm. Accompanied by his dog, Arrow, he embarks on a journey through the Pointless Forest, meeting a variety of peculiar characters who help him discover that it’s not so important to have a point as it is to have a purpose.

In the end, Oblio returns to his village and shares the wisdom he gained from his journey: “You don’t have to have a point to have a point.” The villagers realize that they were wrong to banish Oblio and welcome him back.

Like “Groundhog Day” and the myth of Sisyphus, “The Point” encourages viewers to find their own purpose and embrace their individuality, even when it seems at odds with societal expectations or norms. It’s another compelling exploration of how we can create our own meaning within an often absurd-seeming existence.

It’s one of my favorite films since I was young. I also own the album and play it often. I played it just last week, in fact.

That’s wonderful! “The Point” is indeed a timeless classic that appeals to both children and adults. Its message of acceptance and finding one’s purpose is universal and enduring. The album, with its catchy tunes and Harry Nilsson’s distinctive voice, adds another layer of enjoyment to the story. It’s great to hear that you’ve kept this beloved film and its music close to your heart over the years. There’s something special about revisiting our favorite childhood films and songs – they often bring back fond memories and offer new insights as we experience them from different stages of life. Enjoy your next viewing or listen!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the absurdity of life on the whole. The point is that what matters is smelling the roses.

Absolutely! Life’s absurdities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember to take pleasure in the simple things. The smell of roses, the warmth of the sun on your face, the sound of your favorite song – these small moments of joy can provide a sense of purpose and contentment amidst the chaos. As philosopher Albert Camus wrote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” So let’s all make it a point to find our own invincible summer by appreciating life’s simple pleasures. After all, the point is the journey, not the destination.


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dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.

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It is basically the sound of a man having a nervous breakdown. But I generally do some of my best work when I’m hovering on the edge of insanity.Jim Shelley
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