Saturday, December 13, 2008

A fundamental question

I turn now to Camus, but through the medium of filmmaker Lance Hammer, who won best director at this year's Sundance film festival for his film Ballast. In his philosophical analysis of suicide and the absurdity of life, Le Mythe de Sisyphe, Camus declared that "[t]here is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy". Ballast features a character named Lawrence who is shut-down by the suicide of his brother and seeks a reason to go on living. In an interview in Cineaste, speaking of Lawrence, Hammer says:

"Every human being should consider why we think about suicide. [Camus'] myth of Sisphyus comes to mind. I think it's important to understand it. We need to understand how it works, and we need to embrace the very dark side of existence. Only then can you have any chance of experiencing joy. And though my characters may not become forever joyful, they will be able to recognize beauty and recognize the beauty of being alive"
Camus himself wrote in the The Invincible Summer, "Live to the point of tears".

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