(Note: Reviewing old journals the other day I found this entry, written over two decades ago! I still stand by it; I have not changed a word.)
If there is a basic futility to life—I know this sounds old hat existentialist, but beyond all reading, all study, we who refuse to live unexamined lives must discover, experience it for ourselves—if at bottom all activity, identity, even creativity, is void and possessed of no inherent teleology or worth, then not only must we impute our own purposes to things but we must take each existent only for what it is and no more; each existent must be its own teleology, its own self-responsible context within the whole, its own and no greater dance of light and shadow. This goes for all existence from God to a piece of dog shit.
Not does it exist but how it exists—how we exist—is the issue, and the issue in the context of worth—our worth, chosen and imputed—amid meaningless or emptiness. The issue in the spirit of the last sentence of Camus’s essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, where he says (I feel a bit silly quoting what’s become an old saw—for me at least—but it is one of the lines most indicative of our century’s spirit), “One must imagine Sisyphus happy” (Sisyphus being a man condemned to an eternally futile task), not because happiness is an obligation cast on him as yet another burden of being but because he has seen that the attitudes of his viscera are more to him than the abstract illusions of the universe. And those attitudes have not been dictated to him but discovered by him; they are his responsibility, his creation, ultimately his life and meaning.
Such happiness may indeed be absurdest of all spiritual responses. But not only is it at least his, for what it’s worth it keeps him form committing suicide. (Incidentally, Camus’s other famous statement is that suicide is life’s only truly serious philosophical problem.) And you could add as an afterthought, it keeps him singing, or at least with potential to sing.
Take away my suffering, you may as well take away my heart. Take away my heart, you have taken away my chance to penetrate illusion and add a few beats to the rhythm that transforms this world.