Skip to main content

Weariness




Suffering is the origin of consciousness
Dostoevsky



"In itself," says Camus, "weariness has something sickening about it."

Weary men all look the same as they all look ugly. It becomes a matter of profound indifference whether one is young or dying, a solitary or a lover, a rich king or a laborer, a man of faith or of vices. No, aside from death, the other great equalizer is weariness. And the two--death and weariness--are two paths leading to the same direction: Nothingness.

Camus says that weariness is the beginning of the absurd: "Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life," he says, and we understand him very well. Being tired, to be sure, is an experience that is gone through on many levels. The taxi driver goes home at dusk, with knees trembling from a whole day's driving, and the overheated engine only mirrors what he feels. Sweet sleep, which was the only thought that saved him from the insanity of blindly going around in circles in the city, all of a sudden seems bitter when he remembers that he would have to do it all over again in a couple of hours by the time he lays down on a bed that's too small. So he keeps awake for a while, swatting the mosquitoes that hover around him, in order to delay going back to the circle. He breathes heavily and lets out a pregnant sigh. This weariness is no longer solely of the body; this is the herald of consciousness.

The body can only get tired if what animates it is also tired. By itself, the body just goes through what it usually does, its duties, its dumb functions. But to be tired means you have already recognized that you cannot see a reason behind the grand show that your body stages. Then suddenly you realize that it was indeed a show all along--an act you do not direct. And then, for Camus, "It happens that the stage sets collapse." And when the lights betray their false luster, when the backdrop of everyday life fades into a nauseating indifference, you are lost in a world that you could no longer understand, finding yourself a stranger in an abandoned kingdom.


***

Everyday weariness comes and goes; all one needs to do is rest. When "one is tired," one just usually "turns in early," "calls it a day" or takes a "break" or a "vacation"--anywhere would be fine to just escape the run-around, anywhere else but here.

This evasion is easily done and understood: all that useless passion, directed to earn some vague ideal (happiness, success, fame and fortune, etc.), when they stop short of their goals, or when such goals are not reached or already lost beyond one's immediate horizon, these passions are suddenly struck by vanity. What was once clear to my mind--my duties and responsibilities, my dreams and aspirations--when they steal away from me, or more so, when I accomplish them, when they no longer help me but already suffocate me: this is when the worm in man's heart slowly eats him away.

The vanity of all my aspirations: I was yearning for happiness and but it is that same yearning which burdens me. What then is all this for? "What profit has man from all the labor which he toils under the sun?" (Ecclesiates 1:2).

But one can always rest after a day's labor; this is why the calm of night is always anticipated with hope. The night with its mute darkness is able to neutralize all those impossible acts accomplished during the day; it hides to forgetfulness what transpired and offers the consolation of another beginning. The silence of the night is necessary to a man's heart: if it were not for its calm hand, it would be impossible for anyone to live the Babel of our days. The nights teach us to forgive ourselves; and rest is such a mercy.

This rest from everyday frenzy is what Camus calls recovery. And his word is more up to the point. Recovery entails being lost, straying from the path, stopping--but getting back on one's feet, in the way that we recover from a punch or a sickness. Recovery brings us back to the quotidian, the normal, to what is expected from us. For Camus, this means going back to unquestioned everyday existence.

But what is more, recovery, unlike forgiveness, teaches us to forget: in the same way that when I am healthy I forget what it felt to be sick, when happy I forget what it meant to be melancholy, when in love I forget how I could have been alone. Thrown back into the dizzying days of duties and responsibilities, and stretched out before love and life, I all of a sudden recover from that weariness which almost pushed me to question everything and from that nothingness which placed me in question. In recovery, I forget the absurd feeling and casually say, "It was nothing."


***

Not everyone recovers, however, and this inability to forget and get back on one's feet is what interests me. Try as much as they can to evade their burdens, those few who experience a different kind of weariness cannot find that respite of the soul and silence of the heart--no matter how far away they try to go, no matter how long their vacations may be. Because it is no longer a question of time and place, nor of those everyday acts which take their toll on us; no, such a weariness, so difficult to pin down and understand, is already a weariness without an object, that is, a weariness with no cause.

Weariness without object or cause--no longer an exhaustion of the body or of the mind--is already weariness of being. And like a shadow, my being follows me everywhere I go. Or better: tired and anxious, eclipsed by the dark light of the nothing, I become only a shadow of myself, forever running after my being because I was condemned to be.

How to rest from this existential weariness? How does one hide from that which never sets? Is one then condemned to the eternal labor of being like immortal Sisyphus?

Of course there is killing one's self. But that's too easy when the point is to stand at the edge of the horror of the abyss.

Comments

  1. whoever author who wrote this blog, let me just say, you are not alone. noboday's alone.. always take care...

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Fields of Amorsolo

The first National Artist in Philippine history, referred to warmly as the “Grand Old Man of Philippine Art,” Fernando Amorsolo (1892–1972) still stands today as a looming figure in Philippine art responsible for being one of the artists who helped define what we up to now visually imagine as essentially Filipino. The images of rural life, of golden fields below clear blue, blue skies; the smiles of farmers which diminish their weariness as they plant, harvest, and winnow rice;most especially the iconic figure of the Filipina maiden working in the fields—the beloved dalagang bukid--; these, I believe, even after generations of Filipino painters since Amorsolo, have remained in our hearts and memory. Amorsolo did what great masters do for their country: bestow upon it its own icons, represent its native beauty, that is, to give its people and lands an identity and a face. There are, however, as many intentions for art as there are works of art. And these intentions will always remain in…

[Payapang Daigdig]

Written by Pat Nogoy, S.J.

Payapang Daigdig Felipe de Leon, Sr. 
Ang gabi'y payapa Lahat ay tahimik  Pati mga tala      Sa bughaw na langit 

Kay hinhin ng hangin Waring umiibig          Sa kapayapaan          Ng buong daigdig     
Payapang panahon    Ay diwa ng buhay Biyaya ng Diyos       Sa sangkatauhan
Ang gabi'y payapa Lahat ay tahimik Pati mga tala Sa bughaw na langit  
Pati mga tala           Sa bughaw na langit


The gift delivers Being/being Jean Luc Marion

There is something about the night.
The blanket of darkness hovering the other half of the day sparks ambivalence. Everything is the same in darkness—fear, joy, pain, triumph, doubt, glory, sorrow. Identities recede unto the vast anonymity. There is a pervading anxiety where existence slips into nothingness. One is never certain what to make out of darkness; maybe that is why the night shakes us because we never know. One cannot avoid imagining a something that is greater, higher, mightier, (even sinister) that lurks (hence the power of ghos…

A Love Sooner than Later

BROWN PENNY William Butler YeatsI whispered, 'I am too young,' And then, 'I am old enough'; Wherefore I threw a penny To find out if I might love. 'Go and love, go and love, young man, If the lady be young and fair.' Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny, I am looped in the loops of her hair. O love is the crooked thing, There is nobody wise enough To find out all that is in it, For he would be thinking of love Till the stars had run away And the shadows eaten the moon. Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny, One cannot begin it too soon.

*
One cannot begin to love too soon--conversely, one should not love too late or in life's demise. That waiting for the "right time," or the "right person" to love, what are these but the cries or sighs of an unready, even tired, heart? One becomes ready only when one begins to understand love slowly (or again), and one understands love progressively when one, simply, performs the act of love. Love, like mos…